The relationship between the United States and England is an interesting one. Its hard to imagine another country that is as generally dear to Americans as England is.
The relationship between the United States and England is an interesting one. Its hard to imagine another country that is as generally dear to Americans as England is. Certainly, no other is as dear to me. When I was last in England and was asked why an American would invest so much time and energy researching a figure of English history, I explained that many Americans see England as a close relative…for many of us, our “parent country”. Very much in the same way Christians feel about the old testament of the Christian bible (essentially, the “Hebrew Bible”), Americans feel English history is also “ours”.
Like all rebellious teenagers who’ve left home, Americans had a few things we needed to do our own way. But we are still close family. Most Americans have a deep respect for the stoic bravery of the English citizenry during WWII, an admiration for the wartime leadership of Winston Churchill, and an embarrassed discomfort that we didn’t get more forcefully involved in the defense of England sooner than we did. After all, it was our family that was being attacked.
Our ties are not just historical and cultural, either. American laws are based on English Common Law. Our Bill of Rights was derived from England’s. Even in our governance, which is thought so different, there are strong parallels between our congress and the English Parliament, and between the English Prime Minister and our President.
But there is no parallel in America for England’s constitutional monarchy. Given the chaos and shameless behavior of the last decade of our government, it could be argued that America is the poorer for it. Americans today couldn’t be faulted for wishing we had an independent steward of the dignity and moral compass of the country. In some sense, that void has been mitigated over the last 70 years by the adjacent presence of Queen Elizabeth II. Perhaps it will continue to be so by the reign of King Charles III and Queen Camilla.
So today, our congratulations and best wishes to the new king and queen. May their wise leadership be a sound counsel and a proud legacy to us all!
We are on a long trip to the Great Lakes region, and it has been gratifying to see the scale of the recognition of the Queen’s passing here in America. Flags are at half staff in town after town as we drive through. And not just municipal buildings, either. The majority of businesses and private residences with flags are honoring her as well.
Thank you for your dignity and leadership. You were a towering presence in our time. Your namesake would be proud.
This article regards the surprising trajectory of London–one of the world’s great cities, and an international treasure that once suffered a calamitous decline, and spent many decades as an abandoned ruin.
With apologies for being offline for so long, this is the first of four articles that all grew out of what I expected to be a single, quick article about our visit to the “Crown and Treaty” in the outer London town of Uxbridge. Built in the 1500’s as an elaborate private home, this fascinating building still stands, and was the home of the 1645 Uxbridge Treaty Negotiations. In what has become the usual fashion for me, more thoughtful reading of accounts about the negotiations and Sir Richard Lane’s role brought me to details that struck me as unexpected and intriguing–off-topic “threads” hanging from the edges of the story. Such are the entrances of “rabbit holes” from which I have dragged more surprising insights than I’d ever have thought possible. This particular one is about the surprising trajectory of London–one of the world’s great cities, and an international treasure that once suffered a calamitous decline, and spent many decades as an abandoned ruin.
Sir Richard Lane had a large family – 12 children. But as I am discovering, many children did not survive to adulthood in the early 1600’s. Although he had 4 sons in total (Richard, Parvulus, Bryan and one unnamed) only one – Richard – lived beyond his first year. What I have found out about Richard Lane the younger tells a dramatic story, but one that may explain some of the historical obscurity of his father, Sir Richard Lane. I recently discovered the will of Richard Lane the younger, and it appears he was the last in his line to carry his father’s name…
Like any of the great professions, the domain of law is it’s own world within the larger world. Its interesting how often I had looked at the odd notations at the top of each page within Lane’s Reports without realizing what I was looking at…
The “billiards-like” trajectory of progress in this quest continues! Somehow, surprising outcomes seem to regularly come about when one line of inquiry turns up a thread leading down some new path… I’ve been “offline” for a few weeks now because I have been back in research mode – following up on an important new lead I was given by a law professor at the University of Richmond.
One key artifact gives a clear account that a portrait of Sir Richard Lane once existed – a copy of a “catalogue” of the portraits available to visitors of the 1866 Special Exhibition of National Portraits in London. Interestingly, I have recently come across evidence indicating this “catalogue” wasn’t originally planned to be provided by the organizers of the event! If it hadn’t been, I suspect his portrait (and with it any chance of knowing what the man looked like) would have been truly lost to the larger world…
The satisfying thing about Richard Lane as a subject of historical research is that although his early life was one of obscurity, the political drama he was swept into brought about a fair number of useful historical artifacts related to him. Perhaps in the end, those bits and pieces will yield a rich and tangible sense of who he was. But, this isn’t Hollywood – history is about building knowledge based on facts, very much like building a legal case. And sometimes, the facts you need simply may not exist. What can really be known about a man who lived 400 years ago? Who was he really? What was important to him? And if you could have met him, what would he have looked like?
Yes, that’s right. Maybe you’ve heard of him? Our 3rd President and author of the Declaration of Independence? I knew Richard Lane’s sister married a man named “Randolph”, and that some of their sons had helped found early Virginia, but I didn’t expect this… Continue reading “Richard Lane: Ancestor of Thomas Jefferson!”