Base of Frederick Douglass statue torn down July 4, 2020
Opinion: Our nation has uplifted men from the founding fathers, to military leaders, to poets and politicians. We are only now admitting they are not as perfect as American Mythology would have you believe. Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Madison, Jackson, Crockett, Bowie, Lee, Grant, Douglass, and so many other men and women make up the core of “American Mythology.” Myths and stories have grown up around these men and women. Some myths rose in their lifetimes, and some long after the person died. This mythology based on Americans has become a new world mythology where these men and women seem to rise above the rest of us, and they seem untouchable. Webster’s accepted definition of the word Mythology is “a popular belief or assumption that has grown up around someone or something.” When we consider that the various heroes from the founding of the nation through our modern times have elevated men and women and built up popular beliefs or assumptions, we can easily see that America has its own mythology. If you studied the revolution, you will hear stories about how British bullets could not hit Washington. You understand how Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, and Hamilton did not shoot first but shot the tree instead of Burr. If you grew up in the south, you hear about Lee, Jackson, Forrest, and many other heroes of the south. They would have you believe that Lee was the most brilliant military mind to live by all accounts. In the north, Grant, Sherman, and others would seem invincible in their starch defense of the Union. Lincoln was elevated to the most celebrated abolitionist to live. When you look to the west, we have stories of the shootout at the OK Corel, Custer’s last stand, Geronimo, and others. Who can forget the 1950 and 1960s coonskin cap craze where David Crocket, already a mythical character during his lifetime, would be elevated to killing a bear when he was three years old and holding back the entire Mexican army at the Alamo. In most of these stories, the focus has been the positive, right, and heroic aspects of the men and women.
With the age of the Internet, various “history” experts, the broad study and examination of history, we have begun to see that these mythological figures from our American history are often anything except what we were taught or led to believe. Gradually that acceptance has led first to reports, papers, and articles indicating that “nobody” is perfect. Dale Carnegie published the famous book “Lincoln The Unknown.” A careful study of the Emancipation Proclamation will find that it did not free slaves in the Union. The American Mythology has always been careful to avoid the fact that Lincoln’s in-laws owned slaves, and that five slave states were fighting for the Union. It has also been careful to ignore that those slave states in the Union held slavery long after the Emancipation Proclamation. To this day, the Proclamation is debated whether it was Constitutionally legal since Lincoln had no power to change laws. The list goes own. Continue Reading →