Thursday, January 05, 2006

Mister Ed's History Lesson

Fresh from imploring the Nation's most influential blogger to "kiss [his] entire ass," Mister Ed Morrissey demonstrates that his knowledge of American history is, to be charitable, nonexistent.

Special Ed argues that he is the Cheeto-stained descendant of Patrick Henry, who, Ed says, was merely a flatuent chickenhawk, much like Ed himself. Writes Ed:

"Of course, that slur [chickenhawk] would be ludicrous to use on Patrick Henry. Instead of picking up a gun and commanding an army, Henry relied on his better skills and went into politics and rhetoric [sic] to fight for freedom. He urged the armed uprising as one of the leading pundits of his age [sic], from his seat in the Virginia Assembly and as governor of the independent Commonwealth of Virginia. His proclamation for liberty or death did not mean that he intended on grabbing his pistol and run out [sic] into the nearest battle he could find.

Or maybe it did:

The incident began on April 20, 1775, a day after the Battle of Lexington and Concord, an event with some parallels. Lord Dunmore attempted to remove the gunpowder where it was stored in a magazine in Williamsburg, Virginia to an armed British ship in the James River. Dunmore saw rising unrest in the colony and sought to deprive Virginia militia of supplies needed for insurrection. The Second Virginia Convention had elected delegates to the Continental Congress. Dunmore issued a proclamation against electing delegates to the Congress, but did not take serious action. Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" speech at the Second Convention and the accompanying resolution calling for forming an armed resistance made Dunmore think "think it prudent to remove some Gunpowder which was in a Magazine in this place.".... Dunmore gave a key to Lieutenant Henry Colins, commander of H.M.S. Magdalen, and ordered him to remove the powder.

On the night of April 20, royal marines loaded fifteen half barrels of powder into the governor's wagon before they were discovered. Local militia rallied to the scene, and riders spread word of the incident across the colony....

As word of the incident spread, militia from Hanover, Albemarle, Orange, and, under the advice of George Washington, Fredericksburg, began to move on Williamsburg. These militias learned of the events in Lexington and Concord at about the same time they began to march. The Hanover militia, led by Patrick Henry, reached Williamsburg first, arriving outside of the city on May 3. That day Dunmore's family escaped to the H.M.S. Fowey and the governor sent a request for reinforcements to Boston.

For several days, a standoff ensued. Henry waited outside Williamsburg with between 150 and 500 militia while Dunmore threatened to destroy Williamsburg and have the Navy fire on Yorktown if there was an attack. Carter Braxton negotiated a resolution to the Gunpowder Incident by agreeing to have £330 in royal funds transferred from the accounts managed by his father-in-law, Richard Corbin, Deputy Collector of the Royal Revenue in Virginia, as payment for the powder. The militia left, and Henry joined the rest of Virginia's delegation at the Continental Congress.

More here and here.

So Patrick Henry did pick up a weapon, did lead an armed militia, and did engage a well-armed enemy. Not to mention that he faced a serious risk of death or physical injury in retaliation for his rebellious speech.

True, Henry never faced death by choking on a Ring Ding while beating off three Romulan warriors in online fantasy battle, but times were different then.

Give Ed ignorance, or give him death. Just don't bother him with facts.

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