Letter: Remembering history

Aug. 31, 2013 @ 08:28 PM

To the editor:

We will be reminded soon of two Sept. 11 dates, one for the actions taken following an attack, and the other for the inaction taken. But take a moment to consider another 9/11 incident for which we can all be very proud.

In 1776, the United States (as we were now calling ourselves) responded to a request by Lord Richard Howe, the British commander in New York City (who had just run George Washington’s army off the island) for a meeting to discuss “our differences and how the colonies could get back into good graces with Britain.”

Remember this was after we had declared our independence. The United States was unsure whether or not to oblige Howe but ultimately decided to send elder statesman Benjamin Franklin, pugnacious revolutionary John Adams and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina to meet with him. Being from South Carolina automatically meant you were a pugnacious revolutionary.

The meeting was arranged for Sept. 11, 1776, on Staten Island. Imagine the extraordinary courage Adams especially must have had as he had already been targeted for hanging by the British for being a treasonous revolutionary who had sat on the committee overseeing the composition of the Declaration of Independence. The conclusion of the meeting was known by our delegation even before the meeting (no concessions) but a highlight of the meeting (a highlight in American history, not British) was a comment by Franklin that may well be the most audacious retort to an enemy attacker in all of American history.

Howe had mentioned his deep affection for the “colonies” and added “if America should fall, he would feel and lament it like the loss of a brother.” Franklin’s response was classic: “My lord, we will do our utmost to save your lordship that mortification.”

Our current leadership could take some lessons.

Bobby Van Brunt