The First Two American Revolutions: By a Partial, Prejudiced, and Ignorant Historian
Here is the beginning of a non-fiction piece I wrote for a series of history books for kids. I tried to write (as I always do) as if I were just talking to the reader and explaining things in the most entertaining way possible.
It ended up being rejected because it was too funny for serious history, apparently. This pretty much convinced me to continue writing fiction instead, so I could leaven history with humor as much as I want.
Anyway, this has been languishing on my computer (or series of computers) for nearly 25 years.
I am editing and fact-checking this to self-publish at some point.
Hope you don't mind the funny bits.
The First Two American Revolutions:
By a Partial, Prejudiced, and Ignorant Historian
In Washington Irving’s story Rip Van Winkle, the lazy, henpecked hero, Rip, wakes up from a nap on a mountainside with no idea that he has been asleep for twenty years. When he picks up his mysteriously rusted flintlock and returns to his little village, Rip finds everything strangely altered:
Instead of the great tree that used to shelter the...little...inn of yore, there now was reared a tall naked pole, with something on the top...like a red night-cap, and from it was fluttering a flag...a singular assemblage of stars and stripes—all this was strange and incomprehensible. [Rip] recognized on the sign, however, the ruby face of King George...but even this was singularly metamorphosed. The red coat was changed for one of blue and buff, a sword was held in the hand instead of a scepter... and underneath was painted in large characters, General Washington...The appearance of Rip, with his long, grizzled beard...and the army of women and children that had gathered at his heels, soon attracted the attention of the tavern politicians...a[n]...old gentleman...demanded 'what brought [Rip] to the election with a gun on his shoulder, and a mob at his heels, and whether he meant to breed a riot in the village?' “Alas, gentlemen", cried Rip, somewhat dismayed, “I am a poor, quiet man...and a loyal subject of the King, God bless him!" Here a general shout burst from the bystanders—“A tory! a spy! hustle him! away with him!"...It was some time before [Rip] could be made to comprehend the strange events that had taken place during his torpor. How...there had been a revolutionary war...the country had thrown off the yoke of old England—and...instead of being a subject of his majesty George the Third, he was now a free citizen of the United States." – Washington Irving
When Rip Van Winkle left his village (probably around 1763) to go hunting and nap in the mountains, virtually nobody in the American colonies wanted to break away from Great Britain. In fact, most colonists proudly thought of themselves as Englishmen. At that time, the idea of independence would have astonished and outraged many of the very people who later led the effort to bring independence about. Of course, for the one third of the American population who eventually changed their minds and decided that independence was desirable and necessary, this was a long, drawn-out process. No wonder that Rip , who had slept through the whole American Revolution, found these “instant” alterations in his world to be baffling. If he'd been wide awake, however, he might have been more than just bewildered.