Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

From Perilous Seas to Western Journalese

Today's History Lesson...across the sea & into the frontier

With each day comes the opportunity to relive from whence we came by stepping back in time and turning the pages of history. WAIT! Don't you dare yawn and don't touch that dialDo not leave this page simply because of a misconception that history is boring. History is who you are and what you are yet to become. It is your yesterday, today and tomorrow.

This Day in History: September 16

Two of many events that occurred on this day in history are today's focus of attention. The first represents the crossing of hostile seas as ferocious winds and sickness befell a journey to the New World. Another signifies the frontier movement from the east coast to an area once considered worthless desert in the territory of Oklahoma.

The year: 1620
Aboard the Mayflower, 1620

Close your eyes and let your mind venture away from the modern amenities of the 21st century. Become totally absorbed in the despair of the 17th century that has its roots in London, England. Focus on America being discovered but not colonized. Plague, tuberculosis along with other urban pestilences, lethargy, fear and sadness ruled daily life. Heads were turned, eyes opened wide with visions of the virgin soil of America becoming the images of hope and promise. 

With ships already having sailed to the New World, the time had come for permanent settlements in America. The ships of this day and age to set sail across the Atlantic were merchant ships whose cargo was normally wine and dry goods, not people traveling as passengers. However, time had come for travelers to venture beyond the shores of England. On September 16, 1620, the Mayflower is finally on its way after two failed attempts sailing along with the Speedwell. On this journey, the ship carried 102 men, women and children passengers. This would be its only trip to New England. Since the cargo was the passengers they all had to live in the dark, cold cargo decks below the crew’s quarters. They all carried the same visions in their hearts and minds: beginning a new life on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

The distance from the departure point in Southampton, England to Boston, MA, is 3236 statute miles (equal to 2812 nautical miles). The entire sea journey for the Pilgrims took 66 days. There are 1584 hours in 66 days. The ship, therefore traveled at a speed of 2 miles an hour. An average person can walk 4 miles an hour. Distance at sea is designated in nautical miles. One nautical mile is approximately 1 1/2 statute miles. Sea speed is designated in knots. One knot equals 1 nautical mile per hour. Using sea terms, the average speed of the Mayflower, traveling across the cold, wet Atlantic, was 1.77 knots. [Excerpted from The Mayflower at Sea: 1620]
The Mayflower battered by Atlantic storms. Painting by Mike Haywood

 Could you have survived Sixty-six Days at Sea under such grueling conditions?

Now, jump ahead in time to the year 1893. It has been 273 years since the Mayflower set sail for America. Settlements flourishing in New England now had heads turning and eyes focusing on not crossing the Atlantic Ocean but venturing westward cross country to stake their claims to the best acres of land once belonging to Native Americans. By this time, America was in the grip of the worst economic depression it had ever experienced becoming one of the factors that swelled the number of expectant land-seekers that day. News had traveled fast for the communication capabilities and journalese of the day painting lush green pictures of the American West. Many would be disappointed. There were only 42,000 parcels of land available - far too few to satisfy the hopes of all those who raced for land on this day in history.

Feel the rush! 

Close your eyes and void your mind of any mode of travel other than by foot, on horseback, by carriage or covered wagon. That's it! Nothing more, nothing less. Hone in on the excitement of venturing into a new frontier where land was waiting for the taking. All you have to do is stake a claim...the hard part is getting there...alive! Time is counting down as last minute preparations are made with everything being checked and double checked right down to the last wheel and axle. Ten minutes. Five minutes. Three minutes...two...one...At precisely 12 noon on September 16, 1893, a single gunshot (some sources report a cannon's boom) signals the beginning of a mad dash as more than 100,000 land-hungry pioneers on horseback, in carriages and covered wagons race into the Cherokee strip of Oklahoma. This would become the largest land run in history.

Painting by Robert Lindneux in 1942 commemorating
the suffering of the Cherokee people under forced removal.
(Image Credit: The Granger Collection, New York)
While excitement abounded on this day and while you walk among the footsteps of history, there is also sadness that taints the images portrayed on this day. Stripped of their dignity, the Cherokee people became victims in one of the saddest episodes of our brief history. Whether man, woman, infant, or young child, all were taken from their land, herded like cattle into makeshift living quarters with minimal facilities and food, then forced to march overland to a destination neither of their choice nor free will. This led to the death of 4,000 Cherokee who died during the brutal overland march known appropriately as the "Trail of Tears."

The American Indians are a spiritual and proud people who did not deserve the treatment they received. They suffered at the greed of the 'white' man. Savages? Maybe so to a certain degree. All in how you perceive what one should do in order to preserve a way of life. Savagery remains existent today as the cruelties of terrorism and war still permeate our planet.

On Trail of Tears:

But their land, located in parts of Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Florida and Tennessee, was valuable, and it grew to be more coveted as white settlers flooded the region.

“I fought through the Civil War and have seen
men shot to pieces and slaughtered by thousands
but the Cherokee removal was the cruelest work I ever knew.”

—Georgia militiaman who participated in the “roundup” of the Cherokee Indians