Reading Room Archives
John Dickinson in 1774 as “very modest, delicate, and timid”? Adams, who previously met with Dickinson during the proceedings of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, was much more complimentary, saying, “Mr. Dickinson is a very modest Man, and very ingenious, as well as agreeable. He has an excellent Heart, and the Cause of his Country lies near it.” It seems that Adams became miffed when Dickinson was tasked to rewrite Adams’ “Petition to the King” and found that Dickinson had moderated Adams’s more aggressive language. Hence, he was “timid.”
William Shakespeare’s plays have been performed in many ways. They’ve been translated into nearly every language on Earth and at least one “alien” language (Klingon). Sometimes they have undergone serious changes. Legal requirements forced cuts and alterations, and in some times and places they’ve been banned altogether. He wrote about all aspects of human life, and rulers and censors haven’t always appreciated his candor.
forgotten founders.” One almost forgotten figure is George Mason (1725-1792) of Virginia.
John Adams described Connecticut’s Roger Sherman as “that old Puritan, as honest as an angel, and as firm in the cause of American Independence as Mt. Atlas.” Late in life, Patrick Henry remarked that Sherman and George Mason were “the greatest statesmen he ever knew.” Thomas Jefferson, who was often at odds with both Adams and Henry, shared their admiration for Sherman. He once pointed Sherman out to a visitor and noted “[t]hat is Mr. Sherman of Connecticut, a man who never said a foolish thing in his life.”
American Revolution and a remarkable woman who took the call to arms personally. Her name was Deborah Sampson, and she is recognized as the only pensioned female veteran of the American Revolution. True to her name, which takes inspiration from the great female leader of Israel in the book of Judges, Deborah was a fearless military leader who accepted great personal risk to see the American mission succeed.
Continental Congress makes John Hancock, not George Washington, the correct answer. Known perhaps more for his oversized signature on the Declaration of Independence than anything else he did, Hancock, a wealthy Boston merchant, played a pivotal role in procuring American independence and in Massachusetts politics for two decades in the late 1700s. Only Robert Morris did more to finance the American Revolution, and few other patriots would have lost as much if it had failed.
John Marshall (1755–1835), the fourth chief justice of the United States. Yet in a strange way, his outsized reputation, built on the brilliant eloquence of his groundbreaking interpretations of the Constitution, has obscured as much as it has revealed about his true greatness. In the hands of scholars who attempt to account for Marshall’s achievements, he has become a shapeshifter, molded and remolded for others’ agendas, and the real Marshall has been largely lost to view. In what follows, I will try to explain this, but first the reader needs a character sketch.
Richard Henry Lee was born at Stratford Hall in Westmoreland, Virginia, on January 20, 1732. At age 16, Lee moved to Yorkshire, England, for his formal education at Wakefield Academy. In 1750, when he was 18, both of Lee’s parents died; he returned to Virginia in 1752 to help his brothers divide the family’s estate.
Plato or Descartes, and there are two sorts of answers I usually give. One is that, for better or worse, their ideas set the stage for debates that are still engaging, or raised questions that defy easy answers. The other is that, unlike in physics or chemistry, it’s not the case that the newer stuff is the truer stuff. It’s certainly possible that some 19th-century thinker was trying to refute an argument made by an 18th-century thinker, but failed. Aristotle isn’t necessarily wrong about ethics just because he is writing earlier than Jeremy Bentham. Maybe there are valuable insights in the thinkers of the past.
Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, The Marquis de Condorcet, usually referred to simply by his title, or sometimes as Nicolas Condorcet. Sometimes called “the Last Witness of the Enlightenment” or “the Last Philosophe,” he was also a pioneer of the emerging social sciences.
Thomas Jefferson. Inscribed on the red crust was a favorite mantra of Jefferson’s: “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”
Declaration of Independence, he is remembered as a crucial part of American History: the last of the “Founding Father” presidents. Beyond the doctrine named after him, Monroe is also known for presiding over the Era of Good Feelings, and increasing the geographic boundaries of the United States, while remaining ambivalent of the government’s power to do so.
Mercy Otis Warren ought to be more highly regarded.
Inception: it is an action-adventure movie that centers around the notion that men, in the near future, can dive into dreams and interact with the dreamers in their dream, or in the case of the theoretical "inception", they could plant an idea which the thinker thinks is his own. The scene where two characters are talking about breaking into the dream of the wealthy heir of a corporate super-power in order to plant the idea to "break up his father's empire" follows:
Patrick Henry was born on May 29, 1736, in Hanover County, Virginia. He tried his hand at running a store at 15 but was unsuccessful. In 1754, at age 18, he married Sara Shelton and was given 6 slaves and 300 acres of land as a dowry. Although he tried hard to build a successful plantation, he struggled to grow tobacco at a profit, and in 1757, his farmhouse burned down. But Henry did not give up on trying to make something out of himself. Following the loss of his farmhouse, he managed a tavern for his father-in-law while studying to become a lawyer.
diarist Samuel Pepys got up in the morning and headed out to Charing Cross to spend a pleasant day with friends andto see Major-general Harrison hanged, drawn, and quartered;
Mary Wollstonecraft published her famous work The Vindication of the Rights of Woman. To this day, this work is considered one of the origin points of western feminism. While Wollstonecraft enjoys great continuing fame, few people know of the American woman who wrote a trailblazing treatise on sexual equality over a decade earlier in 1779 and published it 1790. Her name was Judith Sargent Murray, and she is a political thinker worthy of reconsideration within the context of the Founding era. While scholars of the Founding era often turn to the likes of Abigail Adams as an early American feminist, there is perhaps no better example than Murray, who herself asked, “Is the needle and the kitchen sufficient to employ the operations of a soul thus organized?”