Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Non-Fattening Pandemic Pastimes

In order to stay sane during this pandemic, I've started taking another look at great reviews of my books. I figure that 1) this cheers me up and, 2) it isn't fattening.

Here is one of the first blurbs I received for A Buss from Lafayette, about five years ago.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

HAMILTON CF Jensen: The Battle of Monmouth!

Ev’ryone attack!




What are you doing, Lee? Get back on your feet!

But there’s so many of them!

I’m sorry, is this not your speed?!

Ready, sir!

Have Lafayette take the lead!
—Hamilton © 2015 by Lin-Manuel Miranda 

After they occupied it the winter of 1777-8, the British departed Philadelphia, apparently en route to New York City. Washington decided to attack the rear of the British column. Lafayette was originally supposed to lead this attack. Once it was decided that a larger force would be sent after the British, however, General Lee insisted he should be in command because of his “seniority.” Lee's forces caught up with the British column at Monmouth, NJ.

After his initial attack, Lee prematurely ordered a retreat, which outraged Washington. (Witnesses said his furious oaths nearly took the leaves off the trees.)

Lafayette, on the other hand, distinguished himself at this battle. (After this, Lee was courtmartialed and never served in the Continental army again.)

Brave Lafayette stood ready to command our troops that day.
But General Lee took precedence, so led the battle fray,
Then messed it up completely when he ordered a retreat,
And all thought Lafayette should have been in the driver's seat.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

A Rosy Problem for Lafayette

In my research for A Buss from Lafayette, I learned that during his Farewell Tour of the U.S. in 1824-5, he had a constant problem: everywhere he went, people gave him flowers. At times, the carriages he rode in were filled with them. When this happened, he and his entourage would look for places where they could dump the flowers out of view of the people who had given them to him.

Here's how my main character, Clara, describes what she witnesses in A Buss from Lafayette:

I sat up in the water to peer through the woods toward the road. A six-horse stagecoach soon pulled partway into the woods and came to a stop. Perhaps the horses need a drink of water, I thought, puzzled.

But instead of someone unhitching the team so the horses could drink from the brook, someone inside started throwing things out the coach windows. Brightly colored things. Red and yellow and white and pink and . . . Why, they are roses! Hundreds of roses! I thought. Those men are throwing roses into the woods. What on earth is going on?

A Buss from Lafayette © 2016 by Dorothea Jensen

When he came to New Hampshire in late June of 2025, the roses were in full bloom in the state, so many of the flowers presented to him were roses. Below I am posing with New Hamphire roses in full bloom in my back yard during the last week of June 2020. I could have given General Lafayette quite a few roses if he came by my house today - as he actually did on June 27, 2020.

Here is how I imagined Lafayette describing what usually happened as he went through this or any other of the states he visited:

“Sir?” I called, covered in confusion as much as I was in brook water. “Why are they throwing these roses away?”

He laughed. “It is a bit of a guilty secret, mademoiselle.” His words were slow and deliberate. “You see, everywhere I go, people keep giving me roses, roses, and more roses! Whatever I ride in— be it barouche, or curricle, or coach—it is filled to overflowing with them! Because of this, every once in a while I must tell the small lie—that I must make the stop that is necessary—and that I need my privacy. Then I find a secluded nook like this and we cast out all the pretty flowers. Please do not tell anyone. I beg of you.”

A Buss from Lafayette © 2016 by Dorothea Jensen

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Come Into My Parlor

“You must tell us all about meeting Lafayette, Henrietta,” said Prissy, motioning them all to follow her into the parlor and to sit down. “How very interesting that must have been!”

Hetty looked around the room as if in search of the piece of furniture most becoming to her attire, then sank down gracefully on the blue damask sofa. She pulled out a lacy white fan and waved it in front of her face. “La, it was quite wonderful. Such a handsome gentleman! So noble. And so famous!”

                                                         - A Buss from Lafayette ©2016 by Dorothea Jensen

Below is a parlor from a house of that era in Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum set in the 1830s. The sofa isn't blue and probably not covered in damask, but Hetty could have posed on it, don't you think??

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Meet Liberty-Loving Lafayette!

Meet my latest book!

Liberty Loving Lafayette: How "America's Favorite Fighting Frenchman" Helped Win Our Independence

(Available for pre-order now: release date July 14)

If  this video does not play properly on your device, follow the link below!

Cheering Myself Up in Pandemic Time: Woo Hoo #1

In order to cheer myself up a bit, I've started revisiting some wonderful reviews people have written over the years about my books. I then decided to start making what I call Woo Hoos of my favorite bits.

Here's the first one I did:


Yup, definitely a Woo Hoo!

Thank you, David!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Outlandish "History" in Outlander

       Ok. I admit it. I'm a huge fan of the television series based on Diana Gabaldon's Outlander novels. The acting is superb (particularly the two leads) and the story gripping.

        In the season recently aired, however, the show's producers seem to have made a major error in the way they decided to dramatize the Regulators conflict in the Carolinas. When uniformed British troops showed up on the screen, my "suspension of disbelief" crumbled. As far as I can determine, there were NO BRITISH TROOPS involved in that conflict. Not any. All of the combatants of that struggle were American colonists: militias made up of colonists versus the Regulators, who were also colonists. Not a Redcoat to be seen.

         Governor Tryon is portrayed as a powerful official sending in the Lobsterbacks. It is at least implied that the whole Regulator movement was a rebellion against this Crown-appointed governor's unjust laws and taxes.

         Now, please remember that all laws in the British colonies in America were enacted by each colony's assembly. All taxes that had to be paid were also determined by the representatives from that colony sent to this legislature body. The governor himself could not impose any taxes.  Here's something I wrote more than thirty years ago about this.

The Americans and the British government had exactly opposite ideas about the role of these colonial assemblies, however. The King and Parliament regarded these local legislatures as only a practical, unofficial solution to the problem of governing the "plantations". The colonists, however, looked at their legislatures as something more than temporary measures to offset the inconveniences of distance. Among the leaders in the colonies (and in the assemblies) were many educated men who knew all about the rights of Englishmen. (They had read as much of John Locke’s stuff as any other Englishman of the time.) These colonial legislators (and the people they represented) thought of their assemblies as provincial parliaments with the same rights and responsibilities as the one in London starting with a capital P. And, just as the capital P Parliament held the pursestrings and controlled the actions of the King, the colonial assemblies held the pursestrings and effectively controlled their colony’s royal governor. Because of this, the royal governor generally had to act in ways the members of his colony’s assembly wanted him to, or they would not give him any money. 
                                                       - The American Revolutions @ 1990 by Dorothea Jensen

It is my understanding that the Regulators conflict arose from the fact that :

1) The North Carolina Assembly was controlled by the more prosperous, longer-settled tidewater parts of the colony. They therefore passed tax laws that imposed onerous taxes on the less prosperous, newly-settled upcountry parts of the colony, and;

2)  The officials collecting these taxes were corrupt.

So, why did the Redcoats showing up make me see red? I'll tell you why.

1) There was a strong tradition in Britain that no King should have a "standing army," in other words, a permanent army (as opposed to an army raised to fight in a particular war, then disbanded in peace time). A king without a permanent army of his own, needless to say, could not seriously oppose Parliament. Likewise, a royal colonial governor without a "standing army" could not seriously oppose the colonial assembly. Or impose his will on the colonists. Not even the colonists who were the Regulators.

2) It was the British government's sending troops to Boston (and closing the port)  as a punishment for the Boston Tea Party that started major revolt among the American colonists in Massachusetts. (Of course, there were also some left in New York after the French and Indian War ended, but that wasn't done as a punitive measure. Theoretically, they were troops left in place to help protect the outlying colonial settlements from possible further attack. There was no huge outcry at this, but people were not particularly happy to have the British soldiers around.)

So if there were red-uniformed British troops stationed in the Carolinas at the time of the Regulators conflict, I'm certain this would have been a major issue in itself, and not just a routine, "Oh, yeah, here come the many British soldiers stationed here in our colony" kind of thing.

But it was most upsetting to see this, as it muddies the whole issue of "taxation without representation." For if Governor Tryon truly imposed a tax and enforced it with British troops, the Revolution might have started then and there.  It didn't.

Having said that, I guess I'm going to have to find what Gabaldon actually wrote about Alamance, and if she specifies Redcoated troops fighting against the Regulators.  I'll let you know what I find. I write historical fiction myself, so I understand that plot pressure sometimes can mess about with the historical facts. (Although I do keep the history in my books as accurate as I can.)

I suspect, however, that the television version might have departed from her description just to make possible the dramatic moment when Jamie (sigh) is forced by circumstance to don the dreaded red uniform against which he had fought in the Uprising of 1745.



P.S. I just checked out Alamance in The Fiery Cross, and so far have found a letter written by Tryon expressing gratitude to the "officers and men of the army" for their support at Alamance. So it's apparently Diana who decided to bring in the Brits! Very disappointing.

P.S. 2 Anyone who can show that I am WRONG about all of this, please do let me know at jensendorothea@gmail.com.