Wednesday, October 8, 2014

John Hancock (1737-1793)

John Hancock was born on January 12, 1737 in Braintree, Massachusetts. As a child he was orphaned and was adopted by a wealthy merchant uncle. He attended Harvard College for a business education. There, he succeeded and graduated at the age of 17. When his uncle died, John Hancock inherited possibly the greatest body of wealth in New England.

He lived a lavish lifestyle and was often faced with criticism for it. Eventually, he would become a major figure in the American Revolution. One of those times would be the Boston Massacre where Hancock led the committee that demanded the removal of British forces. He organized many protests against the Tea Act of 1773. He, along with New England legislator Samuel Adams were seen as major loud mouths by the British government.

Most importantly, Hancock became the first representative to sign the Declaration of Independence, a document which stated that the thirteen colonies were independent of British rule, on July 4, 1776. His signature is also the most prominent and stylishly written on the document. Legend says that he signed it that way so the King would not need glasses to read it. Today, the term "John Hancock" is a noun meaning "a person's signature."

In the year 1778, he led 5,000 Massachusetts soldiers in an attempt to take back Newport, Rhode Island. The mission was a failure but he remained popular and after some time, was elected governor of Massachusetts. Hancock was a candidate for the first U.S. presidential election, however, he only managed to receive four electoral votes out of 138. George Washington, of course, was the winner.

John Hancock remained governor until he died of natural causes on October 8, 1793. He was laid to rest at Boston's Granary Burying Ground.

"John Hancock." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 08 Oct. 2014.
"Biography." The Life of John Hancock RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2014.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pequot War

The Great Pequot War of 1637, which was the war between the Pequots and the English settlers of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colony, resulted in England's expansion of land in the Americas. The Pequot were a tribe located in Southeastern Connecticut next to the Pequot (now Thames) and Mystic rivers along with other tribes such as the Mohegan and Narragansett. At first, the relationship between the Indians and the settlers was quite peaceful. They often traded fur and weapons in a fairly just manner, but as the Great Migration began to quicken in pace, more and more conflicts started to arise. There were a lot more Europeans than Pequots and the tension was growing ever so slightly. Like for example, the Europeans' livestock were constantly feeding on the tribe's crops. There was also a lot of confusion with hunting grounds and properties. 

In 1636, John Oldham, who was an English trader, and a group of other colonists were murdered by friends of the Pequot tribe. This triggered the start of the Pequot War that would then last for the next two years. Under the command of Captain John Mason and Captain John Underhill, the English Puritan militia, with the help of Mohegan and Narragansett tribes, surrounded the Pequot village and began to set it on fire. Anyone who escaped would be held captive or shot on the spot. During the war, around 400 to 700 Indians were killed. The Pequot tribe were nearly destroyed. The war ended in 1638 with a peace treaty that was signed at Hartford on September 21. The treaty mainly stated that no Pequot tribe or village were allowed and that if there were any who have escaped they would be known only as Mohegans or Narragansett.

As a result, the defeat of the Pequot tribe tipped the balance of power to the English, instead of the Indians, opening the way to future New England settlements and the expansion of American colonies. Aiden T. Vaughn wrote something in his book New England Frontier: Puritans and Indians 1620-1675 that I believe really explains the major effect of this war and he said, "...there was no combination of Indian tribes that could seriously threaten the English. The destruction of the Pequots cleared away the only major obstacle to Puritan expansion. And the thoroughness of that destruction made a deep impression on the other tribes..." The Pequot were a very powerful tribe; economically and politically. Other tribes often looked up to them and sometimes even envied them. Vaughn was saying that because of the defeat of this very powerful tribe, no other Native American group dared to challenge the colonies again for nearly 40 years, until King Philip's War.

"The Pequot War: A Documentary ~ The History." The Pequot War: A Documentary ~ The History. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2014.
"The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut - 1637 The Pequot War." The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut - 1637 The Pequot War. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2014.
"The History of the Pequot War." Battlefields of the Pequot War The Pequot War Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2014.
"Pequot War." Pequot War. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2014.

Friday, September 5, 2014

What is history?  Can history change?  Is there a difference between history and the past?  How do you learn history?  How do you learn about the past?  What makes something (a piece of writing or artifact) a good piece of information about the past?  What role does bias play in recording, learning, and understanding history?

To me, history is a very important part of life. It shaped my life and the lives of other people living on this planet. Of course, some cases will be different from others, but nonetheless, it's still history. History is made up of the events that have caused your life to be the way that it is today. For example, if the first phone has never been invented, billions of teenagers (including me) would probably have to interact with each other the old-fashioned way--by having a normal conversation face to face... I know, kind of a big deal.

Honestly, I really don't think history can change--at least not the events that happened in it. I do, however, feel that people in the present can change history. Everyone has their own opinion on things and they can just change their perspective on the event to make it seem like what they want it to be. With just a few words and a little bit of persuasion you can easily change a person's opinion. Surely, it also depends on how stubborn that person could be.

I would like to say that history and the past can be two entirely different things. While these two words might sound like synonyms to each other, I believe that there is some kind discrepancy between the two. Mainly, that history is something that can be written in text or in the form of words not only words but also the word of mouth. A family's history could be passed down from generation to generation simply by telling bedtime stories. Students also learn about history by reading textbooks and discussing it amongst each other. The past, however, I feel is more on the personal side. It is something only you have experienced for yourself and that is very special. No one else really knows what exactly is happening except for the people who have lived through it.

I think what makes something a good piece of information from the past are the details. Every artifact will have some sort of marking on it that will determine how old it is or what it's been through. Whether a scratch from a dagger that could only be made in that certain time period or maybe even the type of dirt that is on it, which can tell the location of where it once was. 

People can show bias when talking about their favorite or least favorite movie, right? Recording history is the same thing. History is mainly a subject where people express their opinion on past events. The truth could be clouded by these said opinions. The best thing to do would be to look at as much information as you can on the subject and find a balance between the two.