This Fourth of July: Words to Remember from the American Revolution

Detail of Washington inspecting the captured colors after the battle of Trenton by Percy Moran,…

Detail of Washington inspecting the captured colors after the battle of Trenton by Percy Moran, c. 1914. (Library of Congress)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

The American Revolution was a squalid, miserable affair for the winning side. While the British were able to, for a time, have their pick of house and harvest in New York City, the Patriots often didn’t have so much as shoes.

Existence was even more wretched for those taken captive. This account, recalled in the rather obscure History of Long Island (1839), comes from one Alexander Coffin, held aboard the notorious Jersey (the British prison ship, not the state):

I soon found that every spark of humanity had fled the breasts of the British officers who had charge of that floating receptacle of human misery. . . . Many of the prisoners, during the severity of winter, had scarcely clothes sufficient to cover their nakedness . . . we were fed (if fed it might be called) with provisions not fit for any human being to make use of; putrid beef and pork, and worm-eaten bread. . .

Another account survives from Captain Jabez Fitch, who was taken prisoner in 1776 and did 18 months on the ships. In this passage — transcribed, to the best of this writer’s ability, from Fitch’s manuscript — he recalls a fellow captive who,  

after he was taken and stripped . . . [was positioned] as a mark for them to shoot at for diversion or practice, by which he [suffered] two severe wounds, one in the neck and the other in the arm.

He lived, briefly, but his captors went on to “destroy him” and hundreds of others by means of starvation.

Fitch’s account was logged from a time when victory was far from certain. Yorktown was five years away. What on earth could have motivated these colonist-soldiers, and all who would join, to keep going?

Thomas Paine’s immortal words, from The American Crisis pamphlets beginning that same momentous year, help explain the case (in part, one of sheer survival) as it was made at the time:

America will never be happy till she gets clear of foreign dominion . . .

There are cases which cannot be overdone by language, and this is one. There are persons, too, who see not the full extent of the evil which threatens them; they solace themselves with hopes that the enemy, if he succeed, will be merciful. It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice . . .

Howe is mercifully inviting you to barbarous destruction, and men must be either rogues or fools that will not see it. I dwell not upon the vapors of imagination; I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as A, B, C, hold up truth to your eyes.

“I dwell not upon the vapors.” . . . Indeed, pity the sap who might enter any rhetorical ring with Thomas Paine. More to the point, these writings serve us a powerful reminder: American independence — with it, the country we have today — was never a sure thing. It took the collective will, wisdom, wit, and warfare of thousands to accomplish. It took the cooperation and faith of generations to uphold. This weekend, as we celebrate this occasion, we should contemplate not only this historic mobilization of national spirit, but all that has gone right since — even with our current angst over the uglier parts of the American story and the attendant legacy of racism.

As our own Rich Lowry points out:

The Revolution didn’t devour its own. Its leaders died in their beds. At the end of long lives, sworn political enemies John Adams and Thomas Jefferson struck up a respectful correspondence, and both died on July 4, 1826, still honored 50 years after the Revolution.

When the country’s politics factionalized after the war, no one was guillotined or exiled for his beliefs. Instead, the profound disagreements between the two sides played out in battles in the newspapers and at the ballot box.

And, ICYMI, Mr. Cooke reflected recently on his decade in America, seeing a story that is still an overwhelmingly positive one:

There is nothing at all wrong with our bitching and moaning all day about the government or the culture or this or that; indeed, as citizens, that is our right and our responsibility. But it is a great sin to do so absent context, and the reality is that Americans who are alive in 2021 have won the grand prize in the cosmic lottery.

And it all started with what Paine, years after publication of his above call to arms, happily declared “the greatest and completest revolution the world ever knew.” In that closing message, he spoke to the opportunity ahead:

To see it in our power to make a world happy — to teach mankind the art of being so — to exhibit, on the theatre of the universe a character hitherto unknown — and to have, as it were, a new creation intrusted to our hands, are honors that command reflection, and can neither be too highly estimated, nor too gratefully received.

Food for thought, along with the following links, while we consume grilled food for digestion this wonderful weekend.



The Supreme Court just concluded its term on a high note: A Good Day for Free Speech and Free Elections

Maybe the highly complex ranked-choice voting system isn’t a great idea when all voters want is elections with clear results. Witness the New York debacle: New York City’s Bonkers Mayoral Vote Count

Rumsfeld’s legacy is a complicated one. His life and career are no less remarkable. Start here: Donald Rumsfeld, R.I.P.


Dan McLaughlin: Arizona Voting Laws Win as the Supreme Court Clarifies the Voting Rights Act

Rich Lowry: Where’s the Equity for Black Murder Victims?

Rich Lowry: The Absurdly Misleading Attacks on Anti-CRT Rules

John McCormack: Paul Gosar Showed His True Colors Months Ago

Michael Brendan Dougherty: Our Cruel COVID Class System

Jim Geraghty: Just What Is Kamala Harris’s Role in the Biden White House?

David Harsanyi: There Is No Conservative Case for Blowing Up the Filibuster

Kevin Williamson: The Magic President

Howard Husock: The Curious Case of the Wilmington Acela

Alexandra DeSanctis: Garry Wills Is Wrong about the Bishops and Abortion

Andrew McCarthy: The Trump Organization Is Manhattan DA Cy Vance’s White Whale

Andrew McCarthy: Kavanaugh’s Craven Nod to the Lawless Eviction Moratorium

William Cinfini: A 2020 Election Audit Is a Bad Idea for Pennsylvania Republicans

Jay Nordlinger: A blood-soaked party, &c.

Tom Cotton & Ken Buck: When New York Times Fake News Replaces American History

Charles C. W. Cooke: Thank the Lord for Air-Conditioning

Kathryn Jean Lopez: Pride Is a Deadly Sin — and Other Declarations of Independence

Jack Butler: The World Trump Created

Nicola Williams: Women’s Sports Are under Attack

Lastly, here are a couple different views, from Jim and David, on Tucker’s NSA claims.


Joshua Rauh & Aharon Friedman find the U.S.-driven push for a global minimum corporate tax just a wee bit overbearing: The Biden Administration’s Global Tax Imperialism

Space is full of garbage. Alexander William Salter discusses the astronomical task of cleaning it up: Outer Space Is Becoming the Final Junkyard

Iain Murray picks apart Washington’s latest misleading acronym: INVEST in America Act Is a Bad Investment


It’s been a week for film anniversaries. Armond White marks 20 years since the release of the Spielberg-Kubrick creation he dubs the century’s finest: A.I. Is the Best Film of the 21st Century

. . . And Kyle Smith marks 50 years since the release of Carnal Knowledge: The Bad-Sex Blockbuster

Art takes skill. Skill takes dedication. And the Florence Academy of Art is one of the few places in the world so rigorously teaching the basics, to the dedicated. Brian Allen visits, and reports back: Artists Master the Basics at the Florence Academy of Art


New York City’s complete botching of vote tallies in the mayoral primary this week neither inspires confidence nor reflects competence. And it raises some serious questions about ranked-choice voting. From the editorial:

Residents of the world’s greatest city deserve better than this craziness, which may not be sorted out until mid July. Elections should be well-regulated, transparent, decisive, and as speedy as possible. Gothamites are instead dealing with an opaque, confusing, slow-moving monstrosity understood by almost nobody.

Other cities, and Maine, have implemented a similar system. Let them take note: RCV is proving to be a debacle for New York City. Some would argue that the New York City Board of Elections was never a synonym for competence in the first place. And that point is well taken. But the complexity of tabulating votes in this system clearly played a role in this bungle. Elections not only don’t need to be complicated, they shouldn’t be.

Andy takes aim at Justice Kavanaugh’s cop-out this week on the eviction moratorium:

Yeah, the government illegally took their property, but it’s just for another four weeks.

That is the only way to read Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s maddening, though mercifully brief, opinion late yesterday, in which he joined the Supreme Court’s three reliable lefties (Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan) and Chief Justice Machiavelli (a.k.a Roberts) in upholding the eviction moratorium. In our editorial last week, National Review called for the moratorium to be ended — which is what four conservative justices (Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Barrett) believe should be done.

Kavanaugh concedes that District Judge Dabney Friedrich was correct in ruling that the CDC lacked legal authority to seize from property owners their right to evict tenants who stopped paying their rent. Yet, he declined to disturb this lawless bullying because it is scheduled to lapse on July 31. . . .

The CDC has gone too far, so why should the Supreme Court abide such lawlessness for one more moment?

Rich questions why the disproportionate number of black homicide victims has not galvanized a movement by now:

The basic picture is that blacks are about 13 percent of the population and half of all homicide victims.

The most reliable figures come from before the current surge in murders. A report from a couple of gun-control groups broke down numbers from the Centers for Disease Control.

In 2019, black males accounted for half of the gun homicides in the United States, or 7,590 of the 14,414 total, with black females accounting for almost another 1,000.

Compared with the 7,590 black males killed in 2019, 2,261 of the murder victims were white males, and 1,955 were Hispanic males. In short, blacks were 63 percent of male gun-murder victims.

The number, as you might expect, is even starker for young black males, ages 15 to 34. They were 37 percent of gun-murder victims even though they are only 2 percent of the population; the rate at which they are shot and killed is 20 times higher than for white males of the same age.

And it bears repeating that Paul Gosar’s association with Nicholas Fuentes is not okay, not in the slightest. From John McCormack, on why:

Late Monday night, a flyer began circulating on Twitter that advertised an upcoming fundraiser hosted by Nicholas Fuentes, a vile racist and anti-Semite, for Republican congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona. “He is really, honestly, hands down the best congressman in America,” Fuentes said of Gosar in a livestream that same night.

A few hours after the flyer for the fundraiser — which Fuentes has reportedly confirmed he is hosting — began to circulate, Gosar responded on Twitter. “Not sure why anyone is freaking out,” he wrote. “I’ll say this: there are millions of Gen Z, Y and X conservatives. They believe in America First. They will not agree 100% on every issue. No group does. We will not let the left dictate our strategy, alliances and efforts. Ignore the left.” . . .

The media and the Left frequently cry wolf about bigotry, but there should be no doubt about Fuentes. He once called a writer a “race traitor” because he “work[s] for Jews.” He opposes interracial marriage and has praised segregation.

“Enough with the Jim Crow stuff. Who cares? Oh, they had to drink out of a different water fountain, big f***ing deal. Oh no, they had to go to a different school,” Fuentes said in one video. “It’s better for them, it’s better for us.”

“I’m getting really sick of world Jewry — that’s what it is! what it is! — running the show, and we can’t talk about it,” he said in another video.



Julie Burchill, at UnHerd: Mental health is a lucrative business

Matthew Continetti, at Commentary: Manchin Goes Rogue

Holman W. Jenkins Jr., at the Wall Street Journal: A New Chance at 2016 Mysteries

Christopher Sanfilippo, at RealClearScience: Is Harvard Sacrificing Science for Wokeness?

Tevi Troy, at City Journal: Donald Rumsfeld, Infighting Champ


Perhaps no genre triggers revulsion like “jazz fusion.” But once you work through these psychosomatic complications, the Mahavishnu Orchestra catalogue has a lot to love. The always-changing ensemble scorches on songs like “Birds of Fire,” but here’s a wonderful deep track included on The Lost Trident Sessions called “I Wonder.” Carried along by a single, briefly pizzicato progression set to an odd time signature, the piece builds into a synth frenzy. And unlike much in the jazz-fusion genre, this has the added benefit of being short. For a slight variation — one with a bit more edge to it — members Jerry Goodman and Jan Hammer performed the same song on their album, Like Children.

Got a tune? Want to share? Send a link to [email protected] Thanks for reading.

*Morning Jolt will be taking the day off on Monday, in honor of the Fourth (on the Fifth).