The following are excerpts from a few of my mother’s history essays written when she was eleven years old. They sound so incredibly familiar to me – not because I learned the same ”facts” but because they’re put together with a string of bits and pieces of information to tell stories that basically don’t make a lot of sense. I think I must have inherited my mother’s defective history gene! How else do you account for finding history confusing and tedious. Well, besides poor teaching and biased points of view, and a lot of very subjective thinking which we were expected to accept as the truth. I always wanted to add my own take on things. I think my mother might have been into that as well.
Thanksgiving Day is a very old festival. The Hebrews kept it as the Feast of the Tabernacle. The Greeks kept it in memory of their God Demeter. They brought fruits and little pigs. The Romans kept it in memory of their God Ceres. The next to celebrate it were the Pilgrims. After leaving their own country they sailed to Holland. This was done so they could keep their own religion which the king was persecuting.After reaching the coast of the United States they had to endure many hardships. Their first building was a log church. But in a few years they reaped a very bountiful harvest. Governor Bradford thought they should have at least one day to thank God and have a large feast but the people wanted a week so it was decided they would invite their troublesome neighbors, the Indians. This was a very busy week. The men were sent out to hunt while the women baked. The children gathered fruits such as grapes and wild berries of different varieties.
Then the day came at last, and also the chief and his bravest warriors, all dressed in war paint and feathers. There were so many people that they spread the table outside under some trees. The food soon disappeared. The Indians could stay only three days. They had a very pleasant time playing games and enjoying themselves in every way possible. Before leaving they smoked the pipe of peace. The Indians never disturbed the Pilgrims again.
Edith Cavell came from London over to Belgium to be a nurse in the year 1900. When the great war broke out the officers thought perhaps she would be of some use and they were not mistaken for she became a great help in the hospital. After the capture of Mons and Namur many of the Germans became fugitives. She had many of the enemy in her hospital too. Now she would help the fugitives escape. If they did not get away the enemy would kill them. Many of these fugitives tried to escape to another country or hide. Many of the farms contained a number of these fugitives who were hiding. Edith Cavell was an earnest worker in this work and many fugitives escaped death with the help of her.The enemy saw many of their prisoners were escaping so they sent a spy over to the hospital. The spy was supposed to be a fugitive. Edith very fondly offered the spy (not knowing that he was a spy) a place of safety. The spy went back and told all this.
She was arrested on August 15th, 1915. She was not allowed to see any of her friends. Her trial came off on the 7th of October. She was allowed to have a lawyer to speak for her but as he had never seen her before he gave little assistance. They condemned her for helping many fugitives escape. She owned up, but said “If I did not, they all would have been killed.” But no one would help her. She was shot the following morning.
This gave many countries who had not taken an active part in the great war new courage. They fought and won. She was a very good woman because she gave her life for the life of other people. The people thought so much of her that they called one of their mountains Edith Cavell.
In 1763 the Treaty of Paris was signed and this meant all the land except two islands were to be handed over to England. So Canada fell into the hands of the English after the seven years war. The people in England were paying for the damage done so they thought they would make the people in Canada pay for the damage so they put a tax on mail and letters. The thirteen colonies south of the Great Lakes said they would not pay it. Then they put it on the exports and again they said that they would not pay it. They expressed themselves independant and became the United States. But why did not the 14th colony, Quebec, join with them?
A governor was sent out to govern Canada. He was Guy Carleton. He thought since the people in Canada were French they ought to have laws to suit the French so he made some. The boundaries of Canada were to be Michigan, Ohio, Labrador, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. The French used the feudal system of holding land. But they used the British Criminal Law because it was not so cruel as the French. The French were of the R.C. faith. One mistake they made was they had no legislative assembly which gave the people a hand in the government. They sent their laws to England where they were read and found alright. When these laws were put into force the French were very much contented and had no desire to leave Canada. This was all due to Guy Carleton’s good knowledge.
So there you go. Thanksgiving, Edith Cavell and the Treaty of Paris, in a nutshell. Any questions?
(Not even about the boundaries of Canada??) (Or how the French became once again discontented and the Indians reverted back to being a tad troublesome?) I guess those are lessons for another day.