Here’s a little parlor game I like to play with those of the historical persuasion…
When and Where Did America Begin?
A survey by Jonah Begone
That’s the question: When and Where Did America Begin? I am not explaining it or defining my terms any more than that. “America” is what you make of it, and so is “begin.” You decide.
It’s a multiple-choice question. Given that I’m being indefinite about my terms, it’s required for me to present lots of choices. Here are your choices:
1. When it was created by God and/or shifting tectonic plates in the far distant past.
This answer is for literalists both atheist and God-fearing.
2. When the ice age migrants walked onto North America from… wherever.
For literalists who require human activity.
3. Vikings vs. Skraelings, c. 1000.
A nod to the possibility that the first white men here may have been Scandinavians.
4. When the Irish monks got here, c. 1000.
A nod to those of the Emerald Isle.
5. Where Columbus made landfall in the late 1400’s.
Perhaps the most traditional answer.
6. St. Augustine, Florida, 1565.
The oldest continuously-occupied European-established city in the United States outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
8. Jamestown, Virginia, 1607.
The English get real serious about settling here.
9. Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, 1620.
The Pilgrim Fathers and all that.
10. Jumonville Glen, Pennsylvania, 1754.
Where George Washington fired on some French and began the French and Indian War, which led to the War for Independence…
11. Lexington Green, Massachusetts, 1775.
“The shot heard ‘round the world.”
12. Independence Hall, Philadelphia, 1776.
We declare… For those interested in a symbolic answer.
13. Yorktown, Virginia, 1781.
Where the British surrendered in a world turned upside down.
14. Versailles, France, 1783.
Nations decide by treaty that the Revolutionary War is over.
15. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 23, 1788.
The Constitutional Convention adopts the U.S. Constitution. For the legal-minded.
16. Appomattox Court House, April 9, 1865.
For those who think that America properly begins after the Civil War.
17. On the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri, 2 September, 1945.
For those who think that America properly begins after the Japanese surrendered. Appeals to modernists.
18. Max Yasgur’s farm, Woodstock, New York, August 18, 1969.
When Jimi Hendrix played the Star Spangled Banner. An answer old hippies might like.
I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer.
Okay, perhaps that last one is just plain wrong…
The intent is to cause you to think! I do it occasionally. One answer per person, please. Have fun.
And the result, as surveyed by 193 members of the Internet browsing public, is...
Nobody beats God.