Stats north of the border

My mother favored the recitation of epic poetry, along the lines of Longfellow’s version of Paul Revere’s midnight adventure in April, 1775, and James Whitcomb Riley’s pre-Daddy Warbucks’ version of the orphaned Annie. Tales of Molly Pitcher and–my personal favorite when I was four–Oliver Wendell Holmes’ “Grandmother’s Story of Bunker Hill Battle” were as common coin in my childhood as the television version of Davy Crockett were in those of many of my peers.

From a point about 10 or 12 years after my introduction to these chestnuts, I did have the cognition to consider that the American Revolution wasn’t the be-all, end-all of watersheds in western history. But, like the alphabet song, it stands as a kind of demarcation of viewpoint.

Living here, of course, places me consciously into the realm of the Loyalist stance on that same event. I’ve come to learn, in particular, about Black Loyalists particularly in Nova Scotia. But–rather like when I tried first to learn to ride English after first learning to ride Western–the description of a Winnipeg Public Library program i read today caused me to sit up and take notice:

Do you have a Loyalist ancestor?” notes that one in ten Canadians do.

The census here, now, happens twice as frequently as in the US. Public agencies aren’t counting beans but do compute activities at a micro- as well as macro-levels with enough frequency to make trend forecasting purty darn close to a science.

But I don’t understand egg cartons. There’s the traditional holder for a dozen. But the alternative is one that holds eight. I’m guessing that that somehow reflects per-chicken production in some allotted time period?


4 Responses to “Stats north of the border”

  1. Marg Says:

    I’m feeling your angst on the other side. I think I need to take an American History course or find a text – do you have a good recommendation? Or perhaps several. OK my high school was several versions of Nova Scotia which when you look at the dates quite justified. And Canadian. And European but not so much the American Revolution, etc. Yes Loyalists and Acadiens and the Plains of Abraham. Is their an objective American History text that one can read?

  2. halifaxing Says:

    Well, there are no objective histories of anything, IMHO. But, yes, I can offer up a couple suggestions that might fill some gaps in US history (and I am betting others reading these will chime in with better options; I know my friends!):

    If you feel pretty secure in how world history flows generally, then take a look at US history through Larry Gonick’s lens (The Cartoon History of the United States, published by Harper, 1991). Stan mack (another cartoonist with a penchant for nonfiction) offers a text concentrating specifically on the American Revolution (Stan Mack’s Real Life American Revolution, published by Harper, 1994).

    When it comes to more traditional texts, I’m partial to Oxford Companions and there is such (both in paper and, if you have access to a library with it, online via a subscription database), called, simply, The Oxford Companion to United States History.

    But why limit yourself? As I said, I’m betting that other readers here are going to pitch you more possibilities! (And thank you for your cross-border companionship. As a child, I had very fanciful ideas about the Plains of Abraham and, when I first saw the place (when I was about 30), I was shocked–so un-Biblical! I’d managed to conflate Canadian and Israelite geographies…).

  3. Bob Says:

    Here are my recommendations on books about the American Revolution:

    Probably the most popular book on the subject is the highly readable 1776 by David McCullough (published in 2005). Another recent book with good reviews is American Creation: Triumph and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic by Joseph J. Ellis (2007). Also, Gary Nash, one our best historians focusing on early America, published The Unknown American Revolution in 2005.

    The “established authority” (in academic circles at least) is still probably Edmund S. Morgan, who put forth two highly important books in the mid-seventies: The Challenge of the American Revolution (1976), and The Birth of the Republic (1977). Morgan also published a more popular retrospective volume in 2004 called The Genuine Article: A Historian Looks at Early America.

    Also, Robert Middlekauff, a prize-winning historian at UC Berkeley for many years, contributed The Glorious Cause: the American Revolution in 1982. And if one is looking for a good short treatment of the subject, I recommend American Revolution: a History by Gordon S. Wood (2002).

    Now whether any of these histories are objective or not, I would have to agree with halifaxing: true objectivity does not exist. But there are degrees of objectivity, and if one wants to explore that subject, one only need become a history major. Participants in history seminars talk about it endlessly.

  4. Marg Says:

    Wow thanks for those suggestions. I’ll see what I can get my hands on at SFPL. This may keep me going for quite awhile. Yes objective history text quite naive notion on my part.

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