Thursday, November 12, 2009

Friends of 1776 Holiday Wish List

With Christmas and all the other celebrations just a few weeks away, a lot of people think about gifts, friends, family, travel … I hope a lot of pleasant things.

Friends of 1776 isn’t going to be left out.

So I’ve prepared a short list, what else, for your consideration and approval. Please add your personal wishes to our Web site. We are interested.

Let’s start with a few gift suggestions, books and movies / DVDs. (All citations appear at end of post.)

Obviously, a lot of books are available of interest to Friends of 1776. Many have been mentioned here before. Some are quite long, well-researched, quite scholarly. They may not be so easy to read. They often have excellent notes and bibliographies.

Here are the selections: Berkin’s A Brilliant Solution, on the formation of the American Constitution, and Kitman, The Making of the Prefident 1789, a very humorous, irreverent retelling of Washington’s first Presidential campaign. You can obtain these books with confidence that they will make good gifts.

Selecting movies / DVDs was more difficult. There is not all that much out there. I had to stretch our interest quotient quite a bit. Keeping in mind that perennial favorite, HBO’s John Adams, in conjunction with the original book, McCullough’s John Adams, three movies are suggested. All have broad appeal, lasting interest, and excellent production.

One is Amazing Grace, the biography of the British abolitionist William Wilberforce and his decades-long struggle to finally end British slave trade. In the United States, it affected how we conducted our slave trade for decades longer.

Another is that stunning remake of The Last of the Mohicans, with Daniel Day Lewis, set at the time of the French and Indian War (1757), which defined the colonies as geographical areas. This war was the foundation of our independence only twenty years later.

That bright, patriotic musical 1776 brings out effectively the many differing attitudes about independence at the 2nd Continental Congress. There was no uniformity of opinion. This movie also hints at the danger facing those who considered independence at all. This movie would make a nice gift for all ages and backgrounds.

For holiday travel, a popular pastime, consider the following: a trip to scenic Virginia, touring the homes and lands of important men in our Revolution, in addition to those of the Founding Fathers. It’s significant that of the first nine presidential terms, eight were filled by Virginians!

Now for some wishes of longer duration. Many military campaigns of our Revolution had unique locations, strategies, and outcomes. Not all were victories by any means. I would really wish that Friends of 1776 was the sponsor and organizer of a military history lecture series for the American Revolution. Of course, lecturers from the Pentagon, West Point, the Department of Defense, etc. are very welcome. But we don’t need t be greedy. Here in the proximity we have the huge Marine base Camp Pendleton and there’s plenty of talent there!

When was the last time you were in a bookstore and you really could talk books with the seller? In a book chain, are you kidding? If you have such a store, treasure it, because economic forecasts for these are always dismal.

How about a wish-bookstore, “U.S. History in Print”, well-located, smallish, its owners not dependent on it for their living expenses, or else this store will fail. But millions of well-pensioned retirees are entering the market now, so the time may actually never be better.

I don’t recommend locating and competing with an academic bookstore; students do not have money for buying books, not even for those they have to buy. I’d rather locate it in a smaller city a little off the beaten track. That’s where you’ll find browsing interest, time, and money!

Hopefully, U.S. Constitution Day (September 17, 1787) will be considered as a national holiday (as already suggested in a previous post).

A very personal wish: that Friends of 1776 holds an annual meeting, maybe around George Washington’s birthday, with lots of input, good company, and probably a speaker. All of our Founding Fathers, with very few exceptions, were very active in social activities, and I see no reason why we shouldn’t copy them.

And as a final wish, in this world today, a lot more freedom and democracy, and a lot less poverty and illness.

It’s going to be 2010.

It’s time. – Renata Breisacher Mulry

History Holiday Gifts 2009 - Shop early and Save


A Brilliant Solution: inventing the American Constitution. Carol Berkin. A Harvest Book, Harcourt Inc. 2002. 310 pp.

The Making of the Prefident 1789. Marvin Kitman. Grove Press. 1989. 358 pp.

Amazing Grace. 2007. Michael Apted, Director. Movie.

The Last of the Mohicans. 1992. Michael Mann, Director. Movie.

1776. Released in 1972. Peter H. Hunt, Director. Movie.

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