Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Podcast Episode 55 - The Men Who Would Be Washington, Part VI

As Christmas, 1776 approached, it sure looked like the cause of American liberty was going to find a lump of coal under the tree.

The British had taken New York and had George Washington's army on the run. They had a massive force pointed right at Philadelphia, the American capital. The Continental Congress had placed their hopes in one man to swoop in and save them.

And it was NOT George Washington.

This gave General Charles Lee the idea that he could be the man of the hour, and then take George Washington's job away from him.




Sources

Ellis, Joseph J. “His Excellency: George Washington.” Alfred A. Knopf, 2004. 

George Washington’s Mount Vernon. “The ‘Indispensible Man’: Would the Revolution Have Succeeded Without George Washington?” Retrieved September 23, 2022 from https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/the-revolutionary-war/was-washington-the-indispensable-man/would-the-revolution-have-succeeded-without-george-washington/ 

McBurney, Christian M. “Kidnapping The Enemy: The Special Operations to Capture Generals Charles Lee and Richard Prescott.” Westholme Publishing, 2014. 

Papas, Phillip. “Renegade Revolutionary: The Life of General Charles Lee.” New York University Press, 2014.

 

Monday, October 24, 2022

Podcast Episode 54 - The Men Who Would Be Washington, Part V

1776 was a great year for Charles Lee. He had overseen the defensive preparations in New York, Virginia, and North Carolina. The British didn't attack those places, which Charles called a win. He successfully led the defense of Charleston, South Carolina against a British assault, which he also put in his win column. 

Then he was ordered to New York, which was under serious threat from the British, and where he would be, for the first time in his Revolutionary War service, under the command of someone else. 

This wasn't one of Charles's strong suits. But his luck was holding, and he was greeted in New York as the savior of the cause. 

George Washington's luck, on the other hand, was pretty bad. The British had him trapped between a massive army and navy, and the Continentals were suffering major setbacks. Plus, he had to listen to the cheers of his men when the most battle-tested general in the army showed up. 


But George's luck was going to change come December. He was going to have a great Christmas. 

Charles Lee, on the other hand, was not. 

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Podcast Episode 53 - The Men Who Would Be Washington, Part IV

Brand new Major General Charles Lee was looking pretty darn indispensable in the early days of the American Revolution.

After the British abandoned Boston, their next move was unclear. The Continentals believed that the next attack would either hit Canada, New York City, or the Southern colonies.

It is worth noting that new General Charles Lee was appointed to each of these commands. He became the early Revolution's troubleshooter.

And there was a lot of trouble to shoot.



There were British Loyalists, runaway slaves, poorly equipped and trained Continental militia, and civilian governments who didn't seem to realize that the British were about to rain hell and damnation down on them.


 

Friday, October 14, 2022

Podcast Episode 52 - The Men Who Would Be Washington, Part III

If Charles Lee was alive today, he would be considered a master networker.

That guy knew EVERYBODY.

As we’ve seen in prior episodes, Charles was pals with a few kings and kings-in-waiting like Stanislaus of Poland, Frederick I of Prussia and his son, future king Frederick Wilhelm, as well as Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II. He wasn’t a fan of King George III, but still managed to get a meeting with him.

Like any modern-day Wall Street capitalist on the make, Charles Lee could ALWAYS get the meeting.

With all these movers and shakers on his side, Charles was a front-runner for one of the top jobs in the upcoming war with Britain: Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. 




But there was ANOTHER fellow who also wanted the job, and he was willing to overlook the fact that Charles still owed him fifteen bucks from that time he and his dogs mooched at Mount Vernon and made Martha mad.   



Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Podcast Episode 51 - The Men Who Would Be Washington, Part II

Major General Charles Lee was a complainer.

It didn’t start when he joined the Continental Army in 1775. Charles was predisposed to crabbiness. His father was a British major general and his mother was descended from landed gentry. He was the youngest child, and the only son to survive to adulthood. A place of stature had been carved out for Charles, and he meant to have it.

He pursued a career in the British Army and served in the colonies during the French and Indian War, where he met George Washington and Thomas Gage. When the war was over he went adventurin', getting into duels, hanging out with kings, and sticking it to the Ottoman Empire, which is always a good idea. 



But his complaining, about his superiors in the army and THEIR superior, King George III, meant that England was a bit too hot for Charles. So he and his little dog went to America to see what kind of trouble they could get into. 

Which in part meant, just maybe, being appointed commander of the Continental Army instead of George Washington. 

 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Podcast Episode 50 - The Men Who Would Be Washington, Part I

Was George Washington truly America's indispensable man? 

John Adams thought so, and lots of later historians agreed. Washington had the qualities the country needed at the time - dignity, gravitas, and integrity. He was perceived to be above the kind of petty squabbles that would doom the newborn republic. 

But things very nearly didn't go his way. After his defeat at the Battle of New York in 1776, the war, and with it the Revolution, was nearly over. 

Had Washington not managed to get things back on track, there were a few other commanders who would have been quite happy to take the top spot. 




Washington saved the day with a couple of surprise wintertime attacks, but things had a way of turning against him. 

1777 saw a string of British victories, except for one smashing battle won by the Americans. The only problem - George wasn't the general who won the victory. 

Uh oh. 


Sources

Ellis, Joseph J. “His Excellency: George Washington.” Alfred A. Knopf, 2004.

 

George Washington’s Mount Vernon. “The ‘Indispensible Man’: Would the Revolution Have Succeeded Without George Washington?” Retrieved September 23, 2022 from https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/the-revolutionary-war/was-washington-the-indispensable-man/would-the-revolution-have-succeeded-without-george-washington/




Saturday, September 17, 2022

Podcast Episode 49 - The Most Dangerous Man In America, Conclusion

I’m trying to figure out who REALLY killed Huey Long.

Don’t worry. Your favorite history podcast hasn’t suddenly turned into a true crime show. Neither has this one.

We know who actually pulled the trigger: Carl Weiss, aged thirty. He was a quiet fellow who loved art and music and math and had gotten his medical degree in Paris. His wife Yvonne had recently had a baby. She was the daughter of Benjamin Pavy, a judge that Huey Long was forcing out of office. Huey claimed that the Pavy family had “coffee blood,” which is just the kind of racial slur you think it is. Huey had also fired Yvonne’s uncle, a school principal, and her sister, a third-grade teacher.

It could very well be that Carl Weiss, a student of art and history, saw himself as a modern-day Hamlet avenging his in-laws’ honor, knowing that when it comes to getting rid of dictators, there are very few options. Mostly one option.

But if this was a true crime podcast, which I hear are super-popular (just wait till I get to the trainwreck that is the Kennedy assassination) I would have to speculate that Carl Weiss might just have been the patsy, the tip of someone else’s spear.

Because there were lots of people who wanted to kill Huey Long.




Huey was killed by an assassin's bullet. His last words were "God, don't let me die. I have so much to do."

He died on September 10, 1935, but his political machine controlled Louisiana politics until the 1960's. His son served in his father's Senate seat from 1948 to 1987. 

His legacy in Louisiana lives on. 


Sources

White, Richard D. “Kingfish: The Reign of Huey P. Long.” Random House, 2009.

 

Wikipedia, “Huey Long.” Retrieved September 17, 2022 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huey_Long