“Your pork and beans must be out of a can.” (Elinore Rupert, Part 12)

Blazing campfire at night
Image credit: James Owen on Unsplash

I crossed a ravine with equal frequency, and all looked alike. It is not surprising that soon I could not guess where I was. We could turn back and retrace our tracks, but actual danger lay there; so it seemed wiser to push on, as there was, perhaps, no greater danger than discomfort ahead. The sun hung like a big red ball ready to drop into the hazy distance when we came clear of the buttes and down on to a broad plateau, on which grass grew plentifully. That encouraged me because the horses need not suffer, and if I could make the scanty remnant of our lunch do for the children’s supper and breakfast, we could camp in comfort, for we had blankets.

In today’s letter, Elinore sets out to hire some help, and ends up being a big help herself. She also educates Mrs. Coney about the proper cookware for a camp-fire breakfast.

“…She gave him a dose of morphine and whiskey.” (Elinore Rupert, Part 11)

Sally Hemings’s Quarters (image credit: monticello.org)

Someone On The Internet said, “Studying history will sometimes make you feel extremely angry. If studying history always makes you feel proud and happy, you probably aren’t studying history.”

I must be doing it right!

I had forgotten that Elinore was born and raised in the antebellum South, but she reminded me with her Christmas letter and racist party “game.”   As I was trying to figure out a way out of recording it,  I remembered why the American Revolution became more interesting to me.  It was because I learned more about the Founding Fathers in their full humanity, and not as demigods in bronze and marble.  You’ll be glad to know that there are no demigods in this episode.  Only fallible human beings. 🙂

Additional Reading on the Founders, slavery, and the African Americans mentioned in the episode:

The Founding Fathers on Slavery (battlefields.org)

James Madison and Slavery (including Billey) (princeton.edu)

Thomas Jefferson and Slavery (monticello.org)

Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings (monticello.org)

James Hemings (chef) (monticello.org)

Benjamin Banneker (whitehousehistory.gov)

Letter from Benjamin Banneker to Thomas Jefferson (archives.gov)

Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Banneker (archives.gov)

Phillis Wheatley (poetryfoundation.org)

Phillis Wheatley and George Washington (gilderlherman.org) 

Letter from George Washington to Phillis Wheatley (loc.gov)

“Such a snowstorm I never saw!” (Elinore Rupert, Part 2)

Image Credit: N.C. Wyeth, Letters from a Homesteader

September 28, 1909

Dear Mrs. Coney,—

… it was still snowing, great, heavy flakes; they looked as large as dollars. I didn’t want to start “Jeems” until the snow stopped because I wanted him to leave a clear trail. I had sixteen loads for my gun and I reasoned that I could likely kill enough food to last twice that many days by being careful what I shot at. It just kept snowing, so at last I decided to take a little hunt and provide for the day. I left Jerrine happy with the towel rolled into a baby, and went along the brow of the mountain for almost a mile, but the snow fell so thickly that I couldn’t see far ….

Sincerely yours,
Elinore Rupert

In this second episode of a multi-part series about Elinore Rupert, the author and her daughter Jerrine venture out into the great wilds of Wyoming.  When their explorations take a scary turn, a new friend helps them find their way.

The letters of Elinore Rupert are in the Public Domain.

“His Intelligence from the Enemy’s Camp were Industriously Collected…” (Mini Episode: James Armistead Lafayette)

James Armistead Lafayette (image credit:  Virginia Historical Society)

“This is to certify that the bearer by the name of James has done essential services to me while I had the honor to command in this state. His intelligence from the enemy’s camp were industriously collected and most faithfully delivered. He perfectly acquitted himself with some important commissions I gave him and appears to me entitled to every reward his situation can admit of.” — Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, 1784

In the spring of 1781, General George Washington sent the French general, the Marquis de Lafayette, to Virginia to thwart the advancing British army.   An enslaved man by the name of James Armistead responded to the marquis’s call for spies.  Serving at the table of British General Charles Cornwallis, Armistead overheard valuable information that helped the Americans win the Revolutionary War.  Armistead was eventually granted his freedom for his service.  Once a free man, he added “Lafayette” to his name.

This episode is dedicated to Belmont Station Elementary’s fourth grade classes, who studied Virginia history this year.  You are STARS!

Recommended Reading

Young listeners to today’s episode might enjoy Black Heroes of the American Revolution.