American History: Classic or dud?

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My university's American History courses kick off with War basically. We have to seperate courses dealing with expansion of Europe abroad which deals mostly with Asia, Africa and South America. Also one entitled New Nations of North America that deal with The French, English, Spanish and Dutch colonization. Yet not one lecture about the Acadians amoungst those intro courses.

Mr Noodles, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I'd start with Martin Luther. Or perhaps Mesoptamia. I guess it depends on whether you consider the study of American history the study of a place or of a culture ("traditions" imply the latter; how exactly are we "crowded in" by any of the American Indian traditions? We destroyed them!)

Kris, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

My A-level course began with all the silliness around the creation of the constitution, and ended at Japan's surrender in 1945. Well, I think it did, I left the 6th form before the end, and by not taking the A-level exam I probably did about as well as those who did. I would usually say that it was the fault of the pupils for being thick, but in this case it was an amazingly dire teacher who was only promoted to head of history because he was good at controlling Year 8. In the year above mine NO-ONE passed the exam, and my year only managed two decent passes. The secret of success? Only teaching about a fifth of the course and only giving a very brief version of that which he did teach. But what do you expect from someone who was, er, 'very popular' with the Year 11 girls?

DG, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

ten years pass...

Map’s Hidden Marks Illuminate and Deepen Mystery of Lost Colony

For centuries, the Tidewater coast of North Carolina has held one of early America’s oldest secrets: the fate of more than 100 English colonists who vanished from their island outpost in the late 1500s.

Theories abound about what happened to the so-called Lost Colony, ranging from sober scholarship to science fiction. Some historians believe that the colonists might have been absorbed into American Indian tribes. Other explanations point to darker fates, like disease, an attack by Spaniards or violence at the hands of Indians. The wild-eyed fringe hints at cannibalism and even alien abduction.

The shroud of mystery may finally be lifting. The British Museum’s re-examination of a 16th-century coastal map using 21st-century imaging techniques has revealed hidden markings that show an inland fort where the colonists could have resettled after abandoning the coast.

The findings, announced Thursday morning, bring into focus a puzzle that has long fed the feverish curiosity of historians, archaeologists and amateur sleuths. Folklore has flourished over the colonists’ fate, including that of the first child of English descent born in the Americas, Virginia Dare.

And the findings point to new mysteries. The analysis suggests that the symbol marking the fort was deliberately hidden, perhaps to shield it from espionage in the spy-riddled English court. An even more tantalizing hint of dark arts tints the map: the possibility that invisible ink may have marked the site all along.

James Horn, vice president of research and historical interpretation at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, cautioned that the Lost Colony had not been found. But the findings do provide the clearest marker yet for future archaeological excavations, which, if successful, could pinpoint where the settlers went.

“It’s a pretty amazing piece of evidence from a source that has been staring us in the face all along,” said Mr. Horn, who joined historians with an organization called the First Colony Foundation to announce the findings.

The discovery came from a watercolor map in the British Museum’s permanent collection that was drawn by the colony’s governor, John White. Hoping to establish a New World foothold for the English, White took the settlers to their original location, Roanoke Island, just inside the chain of barrier islands known today as the Outer Banks.

It was the second English settlement on North Carolina’s coast, but it was the first to include civilians, among them wives, sons and — within weeks of their arrival in 1587 — White’s newborn granddaughter, Virginia Dare.

White returned to England for supplies, but an attack by the Spanish Armada delayed his return for three years. When he did return, the settlers had vanished.

Over time, the colony has spawned endless speculation and mythology, with Virginia Dare as its face. A 1937 Postal Service stamp featured her image as a baby. Time magazine included her among “top 10 famous disappearances,” along with the Lindbergh baby and Amelia Earhart. A flavor extract company based in Brooklyn bears her name. A vampire killer loosely fashioned around her story appears in a horror series.

In the past there had been hints as to where the settlers might have gone — White himself made an oblique reference to a destination 50 miles inland — but no solid evidence had surfaced.

Even White’s map, which was included in a 2007 British Museum exhibition, appeared to hold no clues. But two small patches layered atop the map intrigued Brent Lane, a member of the board of the First Colony Foundation who was helping research the site of an American Indian village.

Mapmakers in the era often used the patches, overlaying new paper atop old to correct mistakes and repair damage. Mr. Lane speculated that one of the patches could mask an Indian village.

The British Museum agreed to investigate, and it used infrared light, X-ray spectroscopy and other imaging techniques to look beneath the patches. The larger patch, which was the focus of Mr. Lane’s curiosity, indeed appeared to show a correction to coastal topography.

What lay under the second one stunned Mr. Lane. The patch hid a four-pointed star outlined in blue and filled in red, according to the British Museum’s report. The patch also covered a smaller, enigmatic marking, possibly a second settlement.

To historians, the star where two rivers emptied into Albemarle Sound probably represented a fort or the intended location of one, and its discovery greatly increases the likelihood that the colonists retreated to the spot.

“I and one or two other people in London were the first people to see this thing in 425 years,” Mr. Lane said.

It was the first time that the British Museum had tried to determine what lay under a patch, as White’s maps had been mounted on backing until the 2007 exhibit, said Kim Sloan, a curator in the museum’s department of prints and drawings.

And faint markings atop the patch, which historians had largely overlooked, did not match the paint. A museum scientist concluded that a “possible, if rather romantic, explanation is that these lines could reflect the use of an ‘invisible’ ink” like lemon juice or milk, which becomes visible with heat, according to the report.

“We haven’t been able to discover exactly what it is,” Dr. Sloan said. “We can’t say for certain that it was a deliberate use of something like this, but it’s a possibility.”

All of which only deepens the mystery, said Karen Kupperman, a colonial history scholar at New York University. She called the finding “very, very interesting.”

“To my mind, the most interesting question at this point is why were the patches put on, and who put them on, and when,” she said.

Vini Reilly Invasion (Elvis Telecom), Friday, 4 May 2012 03:37 (five years ago) Permalink

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