Write to your congressman . . .

I find myself once again apologizing for my long absence.  I ended up getting a TAship for the first half of summer quarter at the last minute, and between that, ballad work, and dissertating, I haven’t had much time to spare.  I did, however, make it up to my parents’ place for the fourth of July weekend and had a good time, which was much needed after weeks of hard mental labor.  There is something very refreshing about taking a break from writing about the British by celebrating not being one.

I’ve been chugging away at my dissertation, but I thought I would share with you something I found that is not related to my dissertation.  It is a letter in the CSPD for 1652-3, sorted with the documents from March 25 [1652/3].  It followed a defeat at the hands of the Dutch the previous November for which Appleton was largely responsible.

Capt. Hen. Appleton to —, M.P. for Hull. The disaster befallen the commonwealth in these southern parts will be rung in your ears long before the receipt of this, but that the truth may appear, I have written it to the Council of State, and fearing lest it should miscarry, I enclose a copy to you, as burgess for the town of Hull, of which I am a member, and desire you will see it delivered. I am loth to burden any man, but I am sure if Capt. Badiley, with his squadron, had come to my relief, we should have gone away victors, notwithstanding the blowing up of the Bonadventure by her own powder, and the firing of the Sampson by the Dutch fireship. If I could have had my will, the Leopard would never have been surrendered to the Dutch, although no hope of saving her was left, for I would have blown her up, but was restrained by my own company, in doing which they put my shoulder out of joint. As divers members of Parliament can testify to my readiness and former good service for the State, I beseech you to move for my enlargement, that I may appear to give an account of my actions.

What I perhaps find most interesting about this letter is that he thought his best recourse was to write his MP.  I find myself wondering if this was a more common practice or just the act of a desperate man.  Unless accompanied by a bribe, would a letter like this have had much of a chance?  However, the letter’s resting place in the State Papers would suggest that his MP, perhaps Sir Henry Vane, was inclined to bring it forward.  Appleton was a fairly well respected member of Hull, so it is also possible that the corporation was inclined to give weight to Appleton’s request.  I’m afraid I don’t have very many answers, as I don’t have the time to look more deeply into this one.  I thought it merited a post, nonetheless.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Write to your congressman . . .

  1. Kay Woll

    The United States is, in fact, a ‘British’ or ‘post-British’ state as your studies of the 1640s and 1650s will have taught you. Look at your constitution with its debts to Harrington and Neville, your states and their legislatures, your counties and Sheriffs – the U.S.A. is profoundly indebted to the English and British. You cannot celebrate not being British without repudiating being American.

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