Stillwater News Press

Local Columnists

July 1, 2014

View from the country 07-02-14

War for Independence facts

Curriculum in the schools has changed so drastically that many pupils are not aware of the circumstances leading up to and including the War for Independence.

I checked with middle school pupils, high school pupils, high school graduates and adults (many college graduates) and found that few of them knew much about the War for Independence. When I began to write about the War for Independence, I found out that some of the things that I just knew were right were wrong. I used encyclopedias for fact-finding.

It’s surprising how many youth didn’t know what country we fought against. One said Europe. Several pupils knew about the Boston Tea Party, but they thought American Indians threw the tea overboard.

Three or four of the students thought “Taxation without representation” meant that we had to pay taxes to the government today and didn’t have any say-so about what the taxes were used for.

Most of them (including me) thought that Paul Revere hung two lanterns in the top of Old Boston Church to warn the Continental Army that the British were crossing the river. In fact, Paul Revere thought of that plan and enlisted three colonists who were seeking freedom from England’s rule to carry out his plan IF he was shot or captured as he crossed the river and rode his horse to warn them. He wasn’t.

When I asked which came first, the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, very few youth or adults got it right.

And most thought Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Not so! After he drafted it, it was revised and edited to its present form.

There was one general who served both the Continental army AND the British army during the War for Independence. Benedict Arnold was planning to surrender West Point to the British and his plan leaked out. He joined the British army and rose to the rank of general.

One high school senior said that George Washington crossed the Mississippi River to attack the British army. No, Delaware River.

One adult knew that one of the reasons the Continental Army won many battles was that the British soldiers advanced in open country in straight lines, making them easy targets for the Continental army whose soldiers used what we would call guerilla tactics, shooting from cover, shooting from long distances, sniping.

The final peace was signed in Paris, France.

Marjorie Buchanan is a lifetime resident of rural Pawnee County. She is a graduate of Oklahoma State University.

Her great-grandparents made the run into the Cherokee Strip from Stillwater. She encourages responses to her columns at or to P.O. Box 4, Pawnee, OK, 74058-0004.

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