Mailbag #1

I asked and then you asked! Here are the questions I got from my loyal readers. Some were good, some were bad, and some were quite profane. You people need a therapist or Jesus. Not sure which one.

I did some editing to the questions for clarity, space, and again, because some were filthy. I also changed the names to protect the (not really) innocent. Let’s do this!

Dare in Virginia asks: You can invite 3 people from history to a dinner: they can be from any time periods, but one must be a woman and one must come from a non-western culture – who would you choose and why?

  1. Marquis de Lafayette – if you read this blog at all you know why. I won’t belabor the point.
  2. Isabella I of Castile (better known as Queen Isabella of Columbus fame) – one of the most remarkable women ever who ruled in her own right and very fairly (for her time). I might want to ask about the whole Inquisition thing. Maybe she needed to take that down a notch.
  3. Gautama Buddha – I feel like it would be a real chill conversation.

Pushy asks: If you were going to author a work of historical nonfiction, what would the subject matter be and what would you title it?

I would write a book on Cape Cod Highland Lighthouse. It is the oldest lighthouse on Cape Cod. It was built in 1797 (reconstructed in 1857) and has seen a lot in that amount of time. Bonus: I’d obviously have to make the publisher pay for me to live on the Cape while I was writing it. It’s just the right way to go about it.

Classic Book Nerd asks: I just finished reading “The Scarlet Letter” which takes place in the 1640s in the Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony. My history question is who was coming to the New World at that time? Was it in hopes of making money or was it all to escape religious persecution? And how many unaccompanied women were coming over at that time?

All of the above! We think of the Puritans as the only passengers but there were also non-Puritans as well, who were called “Strangers” because the Puritans were kind of jerks. This is how you get the title of the amazing miniseries Saints & Strangers which everyone should watch. Some people came for religion, others because their prospects were limited back in the home country for various reasons. Oh, and some were just plain criminals.

As for unaccompanied women, it depended on where you were. The first group to land in Jamestown was all men. Often, men would be sent with no women to begin settlement of the land and then women would be shipped in later. The businessmen running these enterprises knew men would need women sooner or later and would send unaccompanied women to settle once a beachhead was set. In contrast, the Puritans sailed as full families in some instances.

The other thing to remember is many women ended up unaccompanied without intending to be. The death rates for early American colonization were shockingly high. That was the bad news. The good news is they tended to remarry immediately if only for survival’s sake. Silver lining?

Jersey Girl asks: Boxers or briefs or pantaloons?

Easy, pantaloons. Do you see how much freedom and room you have in those bad boys?

Jay-Quell-In asks: Colonialism vs neocolonialism- discuss

HNU: If you don’t know, the difference between these two is subtle. Colonialism is the control over a country or culture directly while neocolonialism is indirect involvement. For example, we all know Great Britain had a colonial relationship with the U.S. before the Revolutionary War. We were called “the colonies” after all.

Neocolonialism is harder to come up with an all-encompassing definition. Bigger nerds than me still argue about it. You can say the U.S. uses this method by having smaller countries dependent on our financial aid. You can even say the proliferation of McDonald’s is an example of neocolonialism. I say it is also an example of the human craving for really good French fries.

A Catholic (ironically) asks: FMK (google it if you want, I’m not writing it all the way out)— Marie Antoinette, Catherine The Great, Anne Boleyn.

HNU: You have to marry Catherine the Great for so many reasons. She was very intelligent, and she never had her exes executed when the affair ended. Well, if you don’t count her first husband. Marie Antoinette was extremely shallow and would probably only be entertaining for a short while. As for Anne, she most likely had the worst personality of the bunch and she wasn’t even known as a great beauty. She’d have to go.

Brownie asks: If you had to experience one of the natural disasters you’ve read about, which one?

I assume I would be able to live through it, right? The Great Lakes Storm of 1913, also called the White Hurricane, would be my pick. 90 mph gusts of wind on the Great Lakes in November and numerous acts of heroism. It would be a sight. Plus I love the cold.

Argumentative asks: My friend was having fun at an 80s concert and said she would rather be living in the 80s then now. I told her she was being ridiculous. My history question is, objectively, I’m right, right?

If she said 80s music is better than now, she may have had a point. But living in the 80s again? You win in a landslide. Remember cable back in the day? Sure, you went from 7 channels to 60 but they were grainy 90% of the time. There was barely any internet! You had to go find an encyclopedia Britannica just to argue with your drunk uncle who swore the Confederacy won the Civil War! Not to mention the amount of time needed to get the right amount of hairspray in your ‘do.

Now? Amazon. Air conditioning is the norm. Hairdos are only stupid sometimes instead of completely ridiculous all the time. The knowledge of the world is in your pocket at all times. It’s not even a discussion. Punch your friend. (Don’t actually punch your friend.)

Thanks for all the questions! Keep them coming!

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