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Memories of the 28th Century

Myths of America

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The U.S.A. Is a land of competing myths and myths that shift over the years. The myths also vary by region and with ethnic identification. Even at the beginning, there were two completing myths about what the U.S.A. was, or should have been.

Early on it was a matter of who one was. The merchants and thieves wanted independence, so they could run things as they wished, while the farmers, professional, and settled people people wanted set rules. But the Enlightenment was new, and many people loved the concepts of free and independent thinking without authorities getting involved, so the independence movement moved, and it won.

Then the questions of how to rule the new country became foremost. Some people wanted government that would tell them, while others wanted to tell the government. The Enlightenment view that people should make their own decisions won, but most people weren't ready. So laws were piled on laws. But the question of slavery was still open, except in Massachusetts where slavery was abolished in 1783.

Initially, the regional divide was between educated people who knew how to live (or so they thought), and the plebes, who needed instruction. The division between plebes and patricians goes back to Roman times, but the same issue existed earlier. And the same division still exists. It is interesting that there was a flip on that matter, and the Enlightenment thinkers who initially favored independent thought decided a few decades later that the plebes needed direction. The issue didn't come to a head until Andy Jackson and his ignorant friends

Rather than going over every shift in the shape of the myths, let's fast forward to the present. A few days ago, the U.S. Congress with the agreement of the president set into law the myth that slavery in the U.S. Ended on June 19, 1865. That myth has been popular among African-Americans for years, but it is based on myths, rather than facts. The myth assumed that the emancipation proclamation had the force of law, but we all know that it was grandstanding by Lincoln, who was trying to get the support of Black people. Then there was the story that some Yankee military officer was telling the truth to some Black people in Galveston about them being free. The slaves in the U.S.A. Were freed by the Thirteenth Amendment, and that was ratified on December 6, 1865, except in Massachusetts, where the slaves were freed in 1783. I don't know the details of what went on in Galveston, but I strongly suspect that the Black people there were conned into something, and that con has continued. And that has been added to a collection of myths that are popular with some people now.

Related myths include that individuals are incapable of living their lives without directions from the top, so there are many laws that regulate personal behavior. Unfortunately, neither side of the divide is clear or consistent. Some people with insist on individual rights in some matter, but want to follow religious authority on other matters. So we have people who know that the right to bear arms is for all people, but they insist that women can't control their bodies.

It is even stranger that a country that is explicitly nonreligious mentions god in various documents, mottoes, etc. The mentions of god are meaningless, because they do not specify which God, but they do not belong on money and elsewhere, and religious holidays certainly do not belong on the calendar. But now we have a nonreligious mythological holiday on the calendar. I would rather get rid of all holidays, but this one isn't as bad as explicitly religious holidays.

But here in Massachusetts, we should memorialize the end of slavery. When I looked up the cases in the hope of finding a date when slavery was banned, I was disappointed. The Quock Walker case was the defining case, but the decision did not run to all other slaves immediately. Slavery was not legal, but it wasn't banned, but in the 1790 census there were no slaves in Massachusetts. If we wanted a holiday, then the final decision in the Quock Walker case probably would be the day, but I haven't found that date, yet. The best Date I have found is the date of the final trial in Walker vs Jennison; that was April 20, 1783. I do not know whether that was the date of the decision, or what. If I find the report in the SJC, then I will look, but for now 4/20 haws more meaning in Massachusetts.

There is a lot more to the myths of America, but this is enough for now.

“The exact point at which slavery ceased to exist in Massachusetts is unclear. Furthermore, whether slavery existed "legally" in Massachusetts is also questionable. The colony's Body of Liberties expressly forbade slavery except for war captives, indentured servants, and as punishment for a crime.”