As part of my summer homeschooling curriculum, I had Neil write a speech. The date was December 1, 1776, one of the darkest periods for American revolutionaries, and as a colonist, he had to make a speech to his fellow colonists to either continue fighting for American independence (the patriot argument), or whether to throw in the towel and acquiesce to British rule (the Tory argument.) He chose to be a patriot, a side history supports. So to make it interesting, I took the Tory side, and wrote a speech telling my fellow countrymen we needed to go back to being British citizens. I have to admit, after studying the American Revolution, I felt kind of sad for the Brits. Most of their fighting men were poor, desperate, mistreated conscripts, and while the British had some foul leaders, like Bloody Ban Tarleyton, they also has some stand-up guys like Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne, and John Andre. In the end, we got a great country, and all they got was crotchety old Benedict Arnold–and if that isn’t a booby prize, I don’t know what is.
Since Neil thrives under competition, we made it a contest as well. Once we wrote our speeches, we’d present them to Peter, who’d tell us whose argument was more persuasive. Neil knows I love to write opinionated pieces; he’d never done this before, except once as an exercise in third grade. But he also had the advantage of knowing how Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine had made the same kind of argument before him. He worked even harder than me on his speech, and when we were done, we were so excited, we went straight to the office to give our presentation instead of waiting until evening. Neil insisted we keep our speeches a secret from each other.
I went first. Peter characterized my speech as the “No Blood for Tea” speech: you can read it here. I just checked my information and found out the upstart son of George III was named George, not Edward, but I was speaking to a bunch of Americans, so no one caught it (or cared.) Neil went up and gave a speech I’ll characterize as the “Live Free or Die in Slavery” speech: you can read it here. I’m quite impressed with his ability to make a persuasive argument: did I point out he’s only 9?
Peter did choose one of the speeches as the winner, but when I told Neil I was going to put the speeches online, he asked me to have other people weigh in one how they liked the speeches to. So, we present, you decide–and let us know, in the darkest days of 1776, would you have gone with the Tory or the patriot?
Wow! Those were amazing speeches. Carolyn’s is very logical. Neil’s is very passionate. I can’t believe he’s only 9. I gotta go with Neil’s. Of course hindsight is 20/20 so we know how things turned out. This would not have been an easy decision 231 years ago.
Furthermore, we have very skilled riflemen, who could get a general at 300 paces. We can surely win if we unite; but divided, we fall into slavery.
Is it really fair for a professional writer’s words to be judged against her nine year old son? Would it make me a traitor to vote for the child’s speech over my friend’s?