Unsolved History: Reel History & Massacres

 DATELINE:  Crockett & Crispus

Massacre Boston Massacre

The old muckraker TV documentary series used highest technology to examine traditional history stories. For three seasons it provided some gems of research, original and incisive.

In the first season, Unsolved History tackled two major icons of American history:  Davy Crockett and Crispus Attucks on separate shows. You could not go against political correctness more than to try to tarnish the reputations of these legends.

Crockett died at the Alamo, and Attucks was killed in the Boston Massacre. One fought to the end, and one led the American Revolution. Unsolved History said, “Not so fast.”

Each contributed to building the American character of hero. And, Unsolved History questioned the notion that Crockett did not fight to the end but was executed like a criminal by General Santa Ana. Attucks, a former slave, did not lead the unarmed protestors against the British and was not the first man killed in the American Revolution, but a background figure.

The controversies, as always, were always hosted by resident historian Daniel A. Martinez, on the spot, glossing the facts.

Testing a Mexican officer’s manuscript as witness to the end of the Alamo and using satellite imagery to verify the Mexican army’s route to the Alamo, you had an interesting use of science.

In Boston, they re-created the acoustic noise of gunfire in a riot with studio sound systems and fired replica British muskets at melons to determine bullet damage. Paul Revere’s famous print is quite inaccurate.

In both cases, you had an unpopular notion that the Mexicans and British were not completely the bad guys but acted as people under duress.

Host Martinez goes a long way to suggest the heroes are not lessened by determining a different angle to their stories. And, it is fascinating business to see how science changes the past.

 

 

 

 

American Frontier Builders, Episode 3

 Andrew Jackson (w/Trump hair no less)!

 Andrew Jackson with Trump hair

DATELINE: Live Free or Die

If this documentary is to be believed, Andrew Jackson had less hair than Donald Trump. It simply is untrue.

In this episode, future president William Henry Harrison parlayed his racist hatred of American Indians into a political career. He capped off his military life, allegedly saving the American frontier in Michigan and Ohio during the War of 1812.

History Channel’s brilliant series Men Who built America: Frontiersmen continued to impress with another episode.

Though massacres by native Americans of women and children came as a result of massacres of Native American women and children, the winners write history. In the southern territory, another homicidal racist leads the charge: Andrew Jackson.

What comes out of a new generation of American frontier heroes is a defining moment of national character. You can look far beyond the Last of the Mohicans and Fenimore Cooper’s early stance that typifies Boone and Crockett. The real development at this point was a brand of American hero that still resonates.

Rugged individualists, tough guys, hard-drinking, smooth talking trackers and rough-necks were the start of the Sam Spade/Mickey Spillane macho men of America. You could find two more emerging here:  Andrew Jackson and Davy Crockett.

They met and worked on the military battle for New Orleans and Mississippi during the War of 1812.

Crockett became appalled at the genocidal racism of Jackson against Native Americans—and they became bitter opponents for the rest of their lives.

Using their brawling sense of Americanism to beat the British the latest subjects Jackson and Crockett become, like Lewis & Clark, men who had differing reactions to diverse populations that made up the burgeoning nation. Jackson wanted ethnic cleansing for his slave-owning friends in the cotton industry.

Jackson’s racism was far worse than that of Harrison, but they enabled that sort of destiny to thrive. Harrison wanted badly to eradicate Tecumseh as a step in his pure American road to the west coast. Pan-America meant there could be no Pan-Tribal Native world. Jackson wanted to remove all Indians.

Put aside your notion of Charlton Heston as Meriwether Clark and Andrew Jackson. Drop your memories of Fess Parker playing Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone in our mythical Hollywood history stories. This series has re-enactors who are not stars, nor even close to titan size, but the stories are big.

That’s the difference between the 1950s movies and TV and today’s cable channel history documentaries. This time Andrew Jackson is missing his Trump hair-do, but viewers may recognize the typecast.