Saturday, December 26, 2015

OP-ED - America's drunk history, latimes

Consider this a "trigger warning": The following essay may disturb and upset your view of American history, a history mostly written by scholarly types who distill vast amounts of research into erudite narratives. The trouble with their reverence and their gravitas is that they tend to leave out the interesting bits: sex, food and, especially, alcohol.

The effect of drinking on our national story begins with the Pilgrims, a desperate group of scrappy immigrant refugees who landed illegally on Cape Cod, although their charter from King James was for Virginia. They had to land; they were running out of beer.

"We could not now take time for further search and consideration," explained William Bradford, who would become governor of the Plymouth Bay Colony, "our victuals being much spent, especially our beer." If the Pilgrims had succeeded in going to Virginia, perhaps the American character would be slow-moving and gentlemanly instead of feisty, flinty and Yankee.

One of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century — the assassination of President John F. Kennedy — was also affected by a bottle. The Secret Service agents who guarded the president and the first lady, and who rode in the car behind them in the Dallas motorcade, had been out until the early hours of the morning at the local press club and at a free-wheeling nightclub called the Cellar Coffee House. Some had been drinking. Did this impair their ability to protect the president at a moment that changed American history? - Read More at the latimes

America's drunk history


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