Thursday, November 20, 2014

A lot can happen

I thought it might be a hoot to spend some time reading about the years leading up to the first Thanksgiving from the perspective of folks on the other side of the pond, so I pulled a few crappy old English history books off the shelves.

From pages 137-8 of A Manual of English History by Edward M. Lancaster (American Book Company, New York) comes this about Utopia:
Thomas More-- From the prophetic pen of More appeared a work entitled "Utopia," or Nowhere, a satire on the times, especially the reign of Henry VII. Utopia was an ideal commonwealth which an imaginary companion of Amerigo Vespucci, deserted on the American continent, found somewhere in the midst of the wilds. It had wide and clean streets, comfortable houses, a system of public schools in which every child received a good education, perfect religious toleration, and universal suffrage, though with a family, and not an individual ballot; and the sole object of government was the good of the whole people, and not the pleasure of the king. Had More's pseudo-voyager but wandered to the American continent a few centuries later, he would have found his model "Utopia" a real as well as an ideal republic.
(My emphasis)

Utopia was first published in Latin in 1516. It was first translated into English in 1551, about 20 years after the start of the Reformation in England-- and More's execution in 1535-- and 70 years before the Pilgrims landed. The text from which that passage comes was first published in 1905.

A lot can happen in a few centuries can't it?

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