The winners get to write the history. That maxim has dictated what we’ve learned in history books, at church or in the stories told time and again through generations. Whether its historical perspective, political correctness gone awry or a long overdue reset, there’s no doubt that some of the historical figures of the past are getting re-evaluated over the last decade or so.
General Robert E Lee, Columbus, Hannah Duston, and Tom Yawkey are some of the historical figures honored in the past who are being re-examined in the present. Outrage addiction is real, and there are plenty of people who look for anything they can find to be indignant about. Some people ignore the realities of the situation people were in at the time, like Hannah Duston’s immediate peril should she be discovered escaping that island on the Merrimack River.
Jeffrey Amherst is a good example of one-time hero being re-examined with the lens of history. There’s no doubt that Amherst was a man of action trying to win the French and Indian War. There’s no doubt that the settlers in the region were enduring atrocities at the hands of the Native Americans allied with the French. But history points out that Amherst is the man that approved giving smallpox-infected blankets to Chief Pontiac’s Ottawa who were wreaking havoc on Fort Pitt and the settlements in Western Pennsylvania.
In a letter to Colonel Henry Bouquet in 1763 Jeffrey Amherst approved of a plan to “to try Every other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race.” in response to Bouquet’s letter asking for permission to “inocculate the Indians”. Biological warfare utilized to eliminate a problem during war. It’s hard to justify the action, but it’s easy to understand if you look at the North American settlers killed and kidnapped over the past 70 years in wars between the French and British. There were horrors on both sides.