Friday, July 3, 2009

"Rabbit and rye lands"— to be ploughed by rabbits tethered to a pocket-knife

That's a funny image. I found it in an old book on Google books describing lands in England in 1776 in the region of Norfolk. More later...

Have a Coke. Coke has granted money to the National Park Foundation and the NPF has granted money to OVTA. We are using the money to further educate the school children along the trail this year and to get them outdoors to walk and run and exercise their bodies along with their rights.

Thank Goodness there is Coke. We feel like that in summer, even though NC is the home of Pepsi, given the heat of the midday - thank goodness for cola of every kind in summer.

This morning I explored one of my favorite blogs, to see what was up and found a side reference to Coke of Norfolk, Earl of Leicester. This is the REAL "thank goodness there 1s Coke". Looking all over Bing to find out about him, I found nothing except the description of his acquisition of the Earldom. So, I referred to Google Books which I often do to find the items published in previous centuries and found a book which I think was published in 1841. Coke of Norfolk turns out to be one of the most important men in the history of the US and he was British.

So, in preparation of July 4th here is a new news story about the situation in Britain in 1782 according to Coke of Norfolk and His Friends By Anna Maria Wilhelmina Stirling, granddaughter of his favorite daughter and it is essentially an oral history written down apparently in 1841 and published in 1912. It is very important.

First of all as a friend of George Washington, there was apparently correspondence between them concerning agriculture. He became famous in his homeland for his knowledge of farming and is said to have saved two countries. (Note, the condition of the lands he acquired as rabbit and rye lands) He must have been opinionated as he did have detractors who said of course he was not the father of all the brillant ideas in spite of his massive success in Norfolk.

However, a profound statement from this book from 1841 explains: Those who suggest theoretical improvements in agriculture are many, and those who have the courage and the patience to risk testing the utility of such theories and of enforcing their adoption by means of practical experiment are rare, and it is they who usually represent the great benefactors and leaders of their fellow creatures.

This is so true even today. There are plenty of new ideas and new methods, but if men do not act to test, discover, refine and implement them, what good are the ideas? So, it is up to you to act and to create and to do whatever it is that has inspired your interest. No one will do it for you. Write that book. Organize that team. Save that historical resource. Just do it.

And secondly, we need science! We need experimentation along with the conceptual notions. We can not abandon the study of pure science in favor of the applied- that is the unknown just because it is unknown in favor of what is known just because it is known. We so need both! Ideas tested, whether success or failure, as well as ideas implemented.

Okay, back to the revolution...

Coke of Norfolk was in the house of commons in 1782. From this Google book: On February 22nd, 1782, General Conway moved that an address should be presented to his Majesty to implore him to listen to the advice of his Commons that the war with America might no longer be pursued.

The debate on this occasion lasted till two in the morning, and the motion was lost by a minority of one (I93-I94).

A second motion, similar in substance, but couched in less definite terms, met with better success. But the crucial question remained indeterminate — whether the King could be forced to acknowledge the independence of the revolted colonies. Unless this were so, unless the independence of the United States were openly ratified by England, it was universally recognised that anything in the nature of a treaty was merely temporising with the question at issue ami that a fresh outbreak of hostilities was ultimately inevitable. As Fox pointed out later, when the preliminaries of peace were discussed, to sign a treaty with the Americans on the footing of independence, and to make no mention of independence — " was a difference .that he thought of the most dangerous nature to the public ; — and what," he urged, " would the other Powers think if they heard that the independence was not finally recognised, but remained dependent on another treaty, the conclusion of which was at best problematical ? "

The whole question, therefore, turned on that one issue — Could the King be forced into giving a decisive assent to the wishes of his people ? and, primarily, could the House be forced into agreeing to an address which made such a reply imperative ? To all previous addresses the King had returned an answer which avoided committing himself to any definite statement. What hope could be derived from his reply to the address on General Conway's second motion : " You may be assured that, in pursuance of your advice, I shall take such measures as shall appear to me to be most conducive to the restoration of harmony," etc. ? *

It was requisite that an address should be framed which boldly stated the point at issue, in terms which left no loophole for evasion or procrastination.

The position of affairs being thus, Mr. T. Keppel relates that it was Coke who at length brought forward the motion in the House that the Independence of America should be recognised. [Energetic minority at work!]

AH realised then that the crucial moment had at length arrived, the moment which was to determine for all time the relation between the Mother-country and her Colonies. All other discussions had been playing round the real dilemma ; and the Tories, aghast at the conclusion which now hung in the balance, refused to divide.

All night long the House sat. Robinson, the Whig whipper-in, and the whipper-in on the Tory side, both stationed themselves at the door of the House and allowed no one to go out. The dawn still found them sitting, weary, determined, anxious : each side hopeful, each side fearful of the crisis upon which hung the peace of Europe and the fate of two great nations.

At 8.30 the end came. The House divided. Amid breathless silence the result was announced—177 Noes against 178 Ayes.

A ringing cheer went up from the ranks of the Whigs ; Conway had been defeated by a minority of one, Coke had succeeded by a majority of one. The result for which Fox had laboured indefatigably during nine long years was at length achieved; the Independence of America was secured.

The Tories were overwhelmed at what they considered the ignominy of such a conclusion, the Whigs triumphant at what they viewed—not only as a long-delayed act of justice—but as the only policy now possible for England to adopt. Yet all—Whigs and Tories, and the country at large—alike experienced an overwhelming relief at the prospect of the peace which was at length assured.

Coke, at the instigation of Fox, at once moved that the address to the King should be taken up by the whole House. By the unanimous voice of his party he was called upon to present it; and to this, supported by General Conway, he consented.

As Knight of the Shire he had not only the right to wear his spurs in the House, but a further right to attend Court " in his boots," i.e. in his country clothes ; which latter privilege, however, was seldom, if ever, exercised. But on this occasion Coke availed himself of it, and appeared unceremoniously before the King wearing his ordinary country garb.

It was an extremely picturesque dress—top-boots with spurs, light leather breeches, a long-tailed coat and a broad- brimmed hat; but it caused the greatest horror at Court, and neither the matter nor the manner of the address was palatable to George III.

One can picture that strange scene—the discomfited King, forced to agree to what meant the failure of all his hopes, of all for which he had so long and so obstinately struggled; the excited Members divided in opinion on the momentous event in which they were assisting; and the man who headed them, that youth of twenty- eight, who alone in that great body of men whom he represented showed himself oblivious to the petty details of Court etiquette— to everything, in fact, save the one thing which he felt that he had come in triumph to claim—a belated act of justice to a long-injured people.

Gainsborough afterwards painted Coke in the dress which he wore on this historical occasion. It is a life-sized picture, said to be the last portrait ever painted by that artist, and which now hangs in the Saloon at Holkham. Coke is represented standing beneath a tree with a dog at his feet, and in the act of loading his gun. The figure is carelessly graceful, its attitude natural, its surroundings rural; yet it suggests something more than the quiet charm of that rural scene. For into the beautiful, disdainful face in the picture Gainsborough has surely put something of the expression which Coke must have borne when he headed the address which announced to George III the failure of injustice and the independence, for all time, of the United States.

Years afterwards, when welcoming an American to the Holkham sheep-shearing in 1821,* Coke referred to that day. " Every one," he said, " knows my respect for the Americans, for their manly and independent assertion of their liberties. I came into Parliament previous to the commencement of the disastrous war which divided the two countries, which, under a mild and wise Government, might have been joined hand in hand, and, thus united, might have bid [sic] defiance to the rest of the world. It may not be known, for I have never mentioned it to my friends in that House, that I was the individual who moved to put an end to that war, and it was carried by a majority of one, the numbers being 177 to 178. I was the only Member out of twelve from this county who voted against the war ; and I thank God for it; I look back with satisfaction to that conduct, and have followed the same principles ever since.

When it was carried, Lord North moved that the debate should stand over till the following day; but Mr. Fox suggested to me to move that the Address be carried up to the Throne. The Debate lasted till seven the next morning, and Lord North, seeing that not a man would stir, at length gave way; and I carried up the Address as an English Country Gentleman, in my leather breeches, boots and spurs. But, would you believe it, the traitor General Arnold, when I presented the Address, stood as near to his Majesty as I am now to the Duke of Sussex—a most lamentable proof of that fatal policy of which we have long seen the evil effects. . . ."

As is well known, General Benedict Arnold was a man of contemptible character, who had first been on the American side during the war, but who, having been brought before a court-martial and found guilty of certain charges which entailed his being condemned to a public reprimand, afterwards in revenge privately espoused the Royalist side, and betrayed to them any secrets of the party to which he still professed to belong. On his treachery being discovered, he joined the British openly, and was appointed Colonel in the British army, receiving payment of upwards of £6000.*

The close proximity to the King of such a man, on such an occasion, was calculated to incense all lovers of straight dealing, irrespective of party feeling; but another fact which specially angered the Whigs was that—owing, it was whispered, to the presentation of the address being singularly unpalatable to the King— public mention of it was subsequently suppressed or minimised in as far as was practicable ;—it will be observed that Coke himself, a few years afterwards, spoke of it as a fact which " may not be known."

On March 6th, 1782, " Sir Joseph Mawbey claimed the attention of the House to what he called an indecent behaviour in Ministers, who always took good care to have inserted in the Gazette every address from every little paltry borough that flattered and cringed to them, but the important Address to His Majesty, to put an end to the accursed American war, and his Majesty's answer to it, had not yet made its appearance ; he therefore desired to know the cause of such neglect."

In consequence, Lord Surrey further pointed out that Ministers had never behaved in such an " indecent manner " as when the Address to which Sir Joseph Mawbey referred was presented to the King, " for when the House went up with the address, who should they see close to His Majesty's right hand, but the most determined foe to America, General Arnold."
In his speech for November 5th, however, when the following Session of Parliament was opened, the King was forced publicly to announce his assent to the decision of his Parliament; and the irony of this act must have been heightened by the knowledge that such a crisis had been forced by the balance of one vote.

On the 25th of January following (1783), the United States were finally acknowledged free, sovereign and independent, and the preliminaries of peace were signed between Great Britain, France and Spain.

Isn't that interesting? By one vote Britain finally agreed to recognise independence and forced the King to act and isn't it interesting that it was not published and the address to the King by the youthful house member was neglected?

Is it of no matter now, because the effect was the same. We gained our independence. Half of Britain was our friend by then, in fact more than half. Despite the strong differences of opinion, the destiny of freedom for America had arrived. There were more struggles as the War of 1812 emerged later, but essentially America was launched and climbing high.

We know this story of one vote because one granddaughter collected her family history. Your turn. Find your rev. war assets and make something out of them.

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