Founding fathers through a new lens

One by one I found the heroes of the US founding father myth crumbling under the weight of their own identities. I was reading Howard Zinn’s view on the development of American colonial rebellion against the British.

There went John Locke, Sam Adams, John Adams, Tom Paine. Dare I read on? One by one I learned about their place in the social-political structure, their motivations, and the self-identities that drove them.

The poor were siding with the British, turning to them for help against the elite, moneyed Americans. For the elite in the colonies to gain freedom from Britain, which would allow them to concentrate financial and political power further, they needed the support of the unmoneyed, unpropertied, unemployed masses.

It is a curious feeling to realize that the stories of the founding fathers might have been myths constructed to present the idea that we Americans were all together in opposing oppression by the British, that in fact, oppression might have come from other Americans in a different social-political class. But when you consider their interests and their motivations, suddenly the right of America to rebel does not seem quite so pure or clear-cut.


2 thoughts on “Founding fathers through a new lens

  1. From our youngest age, we enjoy stories and fairy tales. At some point, we wake up, if even for a little while, and notice that we’re watching lights on a movie screen in our mind. We can choose to suspend belief a little longer, or we can choose to stay awake.
    However, most of those who are enjoying the movie don’t want someone shouting out the plot or character’s defects. So, these folk tales continue to be retold and still many people believe them.
    This seems to have been the case in human nature for generations.
    I wonder if it will ever change.


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