WASHINGTON-ROCHAMBEAU REVOLUTIONARY ROUTE, NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL

W3R, Newsletter No. 69, August 14, 2011,

Editor Hans DePold, Bolton Town Historian, Depoldh@gmail.com

https://www.connecticutsar.org/about/rev-road/newsletters

Since 1998-2000, our goal is the stewardship of the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail (W3R NHT) that passes through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland Virginia and DC, and the elevation to a higher level the quality of heritage preservation all along the route. This newsletter tries to represent the point of view of the patriots who respected Washington and Rochambeau, the ones who, if alive, would be working with us to honor them today.

The Battle of Rose Farm

Bolton CT is having a weeklong event August 21 – 28 on the Rose Farm, French Camp 5. The entire schedule can be found at: http://bolton.govoffice.com/index.asp?Type=B_EV&SEC={1FBA8759-67A8-44D4-95C9-5CC0002A4EE1}&DE={D34E3EC3-1D62-434D-A8F2-3F8A0869DA77}

On August 27-28th 2011, a major re-enactor encampment of 18th century troops, artillerymen, dragoon horsemen, camp followers, Native Americans, craftsmen and merchants will converge at this site to provide a major living history event. Over 300 participating living historians will portray camps from the French, American, British and Spanish armies of the time in an event that is open for the public.

Commission Chairperson Sandra Pierog announced the Bolton Heritage Farm (Camp 5) Commission is putting on this admission-free event all week and David Loda is pulling together the troops. See Dave’s web site and click on the topics along the top: http://davidloda.wordpress.com/

Benedict Arnold became a British officer and actually led an attack at New London, Connecticut trying to belatedly divert the march of the French in 1781. The French army was large but was spread thin like a string across the countryside. Had the British attacked them during their march on the W3R it could have been a disaster for the American Revolution.

Dave Loda explains his concept for an imaginary battle that could have occurred in Bolton CT. “I created the battle as a fictional event, as Bolton was only a campsite, not a battlefield, and we did not want to give people the impression a real battle took place here. That’s why we named this alternative history battle after a 20th century family owner of the farm, not by an 18th Century term. Arnold’s attack and the reason behind it are fairly well known, especially in Col Ledyard’s memory.”

America depended particularly on her allies the French and the Spanish. Dave wants to open people’s minds to the critical situation and what could have happened. “Remember, in doing an alternate history battle scenario we want to get the public to think about the international dynamics and factors that influenced what really did happen by looking at it from a what could have happened perspective. This is a more involved and sophisticated approach to teaching history than simply reenacting from a history book, and has proved effective in a number of graduate level programs. I’m merely applying it on a different scale.”

This may be the first Revolutionary War re-enactment in which Spanish troops participate. The Regimiento Fijo de Puerto Rico that defended San Juan from the British siege of 1797 will be participating with the American, French, and British re-enactors. Puerto Rico could eventually become the 51st state and as a Protectorate of America we already share our histories. Dave explains, “The Spanish, like Clinton, never came to Bolton…. but could have. Spain declared war on Great Britain in 1779 in support of France and provided significant amounts of money to finance the Revolution. I want our State’s Latino population to know that… our common history.”

Here is Dave’s imaginary scenario for the Battle of the Rose Farm 2011. “It’s June 1781. Sir Henry Clinton, the British Commander-in-Chief in North America, looks out from the deck of HMS Centurion with satisfaction. Long Island Sound is filled with British transports and warships. The annual reinforcements from Europe have arrived on time, for once, and now he can spring his trap. The French army under Rochambeau is scattered across New England, making its way to New York from Rhode Island in slow stages. The General smiles. He knows if he can strike inland quickly he can cripple the French army before it can unite with Washington’s main force. France could never send another army to North America. He knew that much from Rochambeau’s intercepted dispatches. This blow could end the war at a stroke. He runs his finger over the map once more. The landing and march north would take two days, he thought, so where, he asked himself, will we intersect with the French line of march. He squints at the map and curses his advancing age. “Inman”, he calls to his aide, “Where is this place”? “Bolton,” said the young Loyalist Lieutenant in his unmistakable yankee accent, “Bolton, Connecticut. I know the place well.”

“Good,” says General Clinton, “For there we shall meet destiny, and you shall guide us!”

Jini Jones Vail, Author of “Rochambeau, Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant, A French General’s Role in the American Revolution,” and past Chair of the Governor’s Advisory Commission for American and Francophone Affairs (Connecticut) will speak about her newly released book and autograph copies.

Dr Robert Selig will discuss the research he did for Connecticut to document all the French Encampments and the march through Connecticut.

I will talk about some of the Bolton Revolutionary War artifacts of the Mark Sutcliff collection and a French knee buster discovered by Len Matyia hidden in Oliver White’s Tavern when he restored the tavern. I will also talk about the historic farmhouse and will sign copies of our two latest Bolton history books.

Come to Bolton and witness General Clinton’s destiny.

This fall each state W3R group should again begin work on legislation for their state and for the NPS

Thomas Jefferson said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization it expects what never was and never will be.”

Widespread ignorance of American Revolutionary War history is the most easily recognized symptom of today’s polarization and the troubling decline in popular knowledge of fundamental American principles that have been the basis of American liberties, America’s economy, and America’s ability and willingness to liberate oppressed peoples. At the root of all the economic problems facing our nation is ignorance of the principles of liberty that define the American free enterprise system and ought to inform our politics and policy.

The American Constitution was the first in the world to protect the rights of individuals, minorities, and states by limiting the power of the central federal government. It was well understood from earlier democracies that in a democracy of three persons, two persons could create and pass laws to legally expropriate and redistribute the wealth or labor of any third person. In fact under English colonial law the ruling majority had already democratically classified some minority peoples as goods to be bought, used, and sold. It started as bondage for not paying one’s debts but it evolved quickly into slavery.

Thomas Jefferson to P. Dupont in 1816 wrote; “The majority oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundation of society.”

James Madison in the Federalist Papers, Feb 5, 1788 wrote to the Massachusetts Convention, “but as a just government protects all alike, it is necessary that the sober and industrious part of the community should be defended from the rapacity and violence of the vicious and idle. A bill of rights, therefore, ought to set forth the purposes for which the compact is made, and serves to secure the minority against the usurpation and tyranny of the majority.”

In 1824 Thomas Jefferson the founder the Democratic Party also wrote (note in Tracy’s Political Economy, 1816), “To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.”

The American Revolution was led by the educated, sober, and industrious founding Fathers. The French Revolution unfortunately suffered usurpation and then the tyranny of the majority evidenced by the rapacity and violence released on France by the ignorant, vicious, and idle who took control for the “Reign of Terror”. Americans pledge allegiance to the Republic for which America stands because that is what the Founding Fathers intended… a Republic. The American Constitution was designed for a Republic specifically to limit central federal government power and the potential tyranny of a majority because the vicious and idle could, if they pleased, decide to contribute nothing of value themselves and essentially enslave the industrious and sober as the failed Eastern European communist regimes tried for almost fifty years. Every powerful dictator in the last century rose to power with a majority and yes they were usually vicious and idle wearing “brown shirts”, “black shirts”, “red” scarves, and often in military fatigues. They all immediately sought to change their national constitutions just as Hugo Chavez of Venezuela recently did to increase his power and eliminate his term limit.

The National Park Service (NPS) employees are the stewards of America’s historic and natural heritage. That is their mission. If we Americans are to have education concerning our heritage we need to have the mission of the National Park Service funded. Likewise, each state has agencies with historic, cultural, and natural heritage responsibilities. And the W3R NHT has an important historical education mission, which also preserves our historic and natural heritage.

As you know Representative Pam Sawyer started the successful legislation in CT in 1995 to identify the encampments and route of the CT portion of the W3R NHT and we got the funding 1998-2001. Rep. Pam Sawyer said she would sponsor legislation next year for a Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism study for how CT would like to see the W3R national trail implemented and administered. This time we anticipate support from the original W3R groups plus conservation and hiking groups. The study would be spread over a few years. We will start planning a kick-off meeting by the end of October and write a draft proposal by Christmas. Pam said she would introduce a Connecticut bill next year. Every state on the W3R NHT needs similar legislation to fund their state agency… the one that will be the state focal point for the W3R. We should try to share ideas for the legislation. Hopefully each state W3R group knows which state agency will coordinate the W3R NHT for their state. It could be an environment group in some states.

Similarly each state W3R group needs to establish their state congressional champion to support funding for the NPS for the administration of the W3R NHT. In 2000, our CT. Congressman John Larson was our champion for the NPS W3R NHT study bill that passed unanimously that year. Now we need a NPS W3R NHT administration bill. Every state on the W3R NHT needs to begin these activities or the W3R NHT will slowly fade away for them. If there is going to be any more economic stimulation we need it for truthful American heritage education and there is none better than getting the W3R NHT project that we started in 2000… up and running and educating.

The NPS Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail gets federal funding exceeding $1million per year. We need to agree on a realistic achievable single number for the NPS that all the states support. We need our US-W3R organization to advocate and coordinate these critical legislative activities. We need to begin action soon to be ready as the economy recovers. Getting the W3R NHT enacted into law was just the beginning. We still need to make it a living history. The encampment this August 27-28th 2011 is an example of a living history where visitors can engage actors who bring their characters back to life.

Expanding the mailing list

Please let others know about this CTSSAR W3R website and have them send us their e-mail address so they can be informed quickly about what we are doing.  Send you email address to depoldh@gmail.com.