An Observation from History

2 Jan

I am not a history expert. I am interested in lots of things but don’t have an expansive knowledge of many things. I am what you might call a casualty of living in the information age.

Anyway, this morning I was reading a letter written at the start of the American Revolution from Eliphalet Dyer to Joseph Trumbull. Dyer, a Connecticut native and lawyer, had been witness to the appointment of George Washington as head of the Continental Army. His purpose in writing was to inform his friend Trumbull of this appointment and to give him a general sketch of Washington’s character. The character sketch is all that we would expect, hailing Washington for his humility and honor and integrity. But within that description I found a very interesting tidbit which reaffirms something I’ve noticed in other Colonial era writings: the seeds of the Civil War are apparent during the Revolutionary War.

Washington was a Virginian, considered a southerner. Dyer writes that Washington’s appointment “removes all jealousies, more firmly cements the Southern to the Northern, and takes away the fear of the former lest an enterprising eastern New England General proving successful, might with his Victorious Army give law to the Southern and Western gentry.” As I read this, it seems to me that Dyer thought it a prudent step to name a southerner as leader of the Continental Army. There was a concern in his mind it seems, even way back in 1775, that a leader out of New England might be seen as a threat by those in the South and West. The lines of division, mistrust and fear seem to have already been apparent before the Revolution began. Another war was simmering on the back burner of the War for Independence.

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