Donald Trump’s 4th of July Speech Has Forced Me to Revise the Syllabus for My “Age of Hamilton” Course

It was this part of the speech that forced me to rethink my entire understanding of the American Revolution:

Here is what I wrote on Facebook earlier today:

Students in my “Age of Hamilton” course this Fall will be learning how Hamilton, as Washington’s “right hand man,” aided the great general in the takeover of colonial airports at Newark, White Plains, and Boston.

We will also spend a few class periods discussing how Hamilton convinced Washington that control of Morristown Municipal airport was absolutely essential for the protection of the Continental Army’s headquarters during the Winter of 1779/1780. (I think it is worth noting that most courses on the Revolutionary War will not give students this kind of in-depth of analysis. The role of the small Morristown Municipal Airport does not often make it into U.S. History survey textbooks or even some of the best specialized textbooks on the Revolution. Before I started writing this post, I went to my bookshelf and picked-up books by Gordon Wood, Robert Middlekauf, John Ferling, David Hackett Fischer, and Joseph Ellis and found no references to this important event ).

We will also discuss how Washington and his troops “manned the air” and “did everything it had to do” by traveling nearly 40 years into the future so that they could defeat the British at Fort McHenry on September 13-14, 1814.

One of the more popular songs in Lin Manuel-Miranda’s musical “Hamilton” is “The Battle of Yorktown.” So in this course we will spend considerable time discussing Alexander Hamilton’s role in this important battle. Lectures will focus primarily on how the Continental Army, with Hamilton’s help, was able to remove the feudal lord commonly known as “Cornwallis of Yorktown” from his seat of power.

It’s going to be a great course! Bigly!

11 thoughts on “Donald Trump’s 4th of July Speech Has Forced Me to Revise the Syllabus for My “Age of Hamilton” Course

  1. James: Do you think if Obama’s teleprompter malfunctioned he would say that Washington’s army controlled the airports, manned the sky, and then somehow transported themselves to 1814 at Fort McHenry? The bottom line is this: Once the teleprompter malfunctioned, Trump had nothing in the tank or the brain. There is a difference between him and Obama.


  2. Actually, James, Trump has shown absolutely zero knowledge of American history. So based on his previous attempts to bring up history, I tend to lean toward the belief that he actually doesn’t know when the airplane was invented. What John Haas wrote above is not a petty potshot, it is the logical conclusion one must draw at this point in the Trump administration.


  3. In 2016, both major parties succeeded in nominating their WORST possible candidate. As a result, by November the only choice we had was Cersei Lannister or Benito Mussolini (Remember you have to vote for one!) Anyone other than Trump would have easily beat Hillary, any Dem other than Hillary would have landslided over Trump.

    BTW: I think both Obama and Bush 43 had problems speaking extemporaneously, but took different/opposite approaches to it:

    Bush just kept doing improv and let the “Bushisms” fall where they may;

    Obama went to pre-scripted teleprompter speeches to eliminate the possibilty.

    Just two different men with two different speaking styles.


  4. If true, what does this say about the quality of his opponent in the last election?

    This is why the #Resistance needs the Red Menace excuse. It just can’t be possible that their chosen candidate lost to THAT guy.

    I actually think my favorite know-nothing moment from Trump came during the primary debates, when Hugh Hewitt asked about “the nuclear triad” and it was clear Trump had zero clue. I was waiting for him to say we opposed vicious Asian criminal gangs on sport bikes carrying backpack nukes.

    Btw: I think Obama was/is a smart guy (though if you watch him speak extemporaneously, he’s not nearly as impressive), yet he had a number of beauties for which the press would have crucified Trump. Corpse-men. The Austrian language. The Maldives. But this was all excused (as it should have been, although the Austrian language gaffe is a doozy) because: Our Team.


  5. John Haas,

    Your background Palin anecdote was interesting. It sheds interesting light on the 2008 race.

    Your conclusion, however, is not convincing. You state that Obama really knew that there were fifty states but question whether Trump had knowledge of the historical timing of invention of the airplane. Surely, you can do better than that, .John. ✈️ You may not like Trump; that’s fine, but there is a difference between valid criticism and petty potshots.



  6. Christina,

    So you seem to be saying that Obama gets a pass on his fifty-seven state gaff while Trump does not get a pass on the airport remark because, “He just reads and ad libs….”. If you were more objective, you would view both errors as incidental. If any of us were recorded for twenty-four hours, no doubt most of us would suffer a few oral slip-ups. It is no big deal if Obama did it or if Trump did it.

    You asked, “Don’t you think he should know American History?” Answer: Yes, but an insignificant misstatement during a long speech hardly shows if a politician passed or failed his high school and college history examinations.

    Again, if the DEMs want to defeat Trump, they need to focus on his policies rather than desperately grasping at the humorous little mistakes all politicians are going to make. This will be especially true if gaff-prone Joe Biden is the nominee.


  7. That actually got a lot of attention. Sarah Palin was desperate to tap into that energy: “Couldn’t talk about that. Couldn’t talk about Obama’s lack of knowledge and job experience and the things that he said like America had 57 states, things like that. In the campaign, Greta, this is important for Americans to understand. I was not allowed to talk about things like that because those elitists, those who are the brainiacs in the GOP machine running John McCain’s campaign at the time said that the media would eat us alive if we brought up these things.”

    One difference is that a lot of people understood that campaigns are mentally exhausting–you answer questions 18 hours a day–and anyone messes up. They feel pretty confidant Obam knew how many states there are.

    I’m not sure anyone, even his supporters, is at all certain Donald Trump knows when airplanes were invented.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. President Obama was exhausted when he made that 57 state mistake, he was speaking off the cuff, and he readily and wryly admitted the error. Trump SHOULD know better than to credit George Washington with the invasion of an airport. The sad, sick part of this is that he doesn’t know. He’s genuinely thick, like sour pudding. He just reads and ad libs and thinks you’re even more stupid than he is (which may be true, but if I were you, I wouldn’t admit to that). Don’t you think he should know American History?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Surely the anti-Trumpers can do better than this manufactured story. Didn’t Obama once refer to the “fifty-seven” states in one of his oral gaffs? It was no big deal. We all make inconsequential verbal mistakes.

    Here is a prediction. If Trump’s opponents can do no better than highlighting issues like this one, Trump’s electoral vote total will be greater than it was in 2016. At least the Clinton campaign was astute enough to focus on his genuine failings.


  10. It would be interesting to compare the remarks as prepared (FOIA?) with the remarks as delivered. President Trump apparently stumbled on “named George Washington” by inserting the word “after” and then further stumbled … (an alleged teleprompter malfunction, perhaps?)

    Perhaps we might recall the role that presidential speech writer Jon Favreau played in making Donald J. Trump the man he is today …


  11. It would e fun if Trump agreed to an interview and was simply asked, “Tell me what you know about Douglass, The Great Frederick Douglass”.


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