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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Gore Vidal, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Henry VIII

I learned more about 19th Century US history by reading Gore Vidal novels than I ever did in any history class.  Granted, I spent 5 years in the English school system, so I can probably tell you a few things about the Monarchy that I learned while at Cangle County Primary School, in Haverhill, England. During that time, I didn't learn any American history, nor did I learn how to play basketball (much to the chagrin of Coach Lou Underdown, later while at Arnold Junior High School), baseball, or American football.

Anyhow, several years ago, I picked up Gore Vidal's book "1876" - which is an historical novel set in, you guessed it, 1876.  The backdrop to it all is the presidential election of 1876, between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes (my favorite, useless, President). Tilden won the popular vote, but Hayes wound up winning the Electoral College, and thus the Presidency, after Florida's (and Louisiana's and South Carolina's and Oregon's) leaders initially declared Tilden the winner of the State, only later to change it to Hayes.

WHOA, that sounds familiar!!!

So, this led to the "Compromise of 1877" , effectively the end of Reconstruction, and four years of a useless Presidency (WHOA, that soun..... - never mind).

Not trying to bore you with useless facts, instead I'm just saying that I love learning history when it is set out in an interesting way, the way Gore Vidal did when he wrote those types of novels.  Sure there was a fictional story in the forefront, but the historical facts he wrote about were accurate.


My wife and I have been watching "The Tudors" lately - we are almost finished with season one.  Looks like it is going to end with Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and his marriage to Anne Boleyn (apparent harlot). Also, he was craaaazzzyy, and a horndog.

It's pretty interesting, but some of the historical facts didn't ring any bells with me. So, I did some reading, and am finding that a bunch of the facts relating to ACTUAL HISTORICAL FIGURES are pure, made up crap.  I guess they are just used to make the series more exciting?  I don't mind them playing loose with a little obscure history, but they are making up relatives of Henry who didn't exist, historical marriages that never happened, and events that never took place - relatively important events.

I think Gore Vidal would be shaking his head. "smh" is what he would tweet, probably followed by "lol".

Sorry, no refunds on the time spent reading this.