July 4th. Woo, hoo.

It’s July 4th, Independence Day. Reading the news usually depresses me. But I managed to find good news in a couple of unlikely news stories.

Today I read an article by Niko Koppel in the New York Times titled “A Country’s Past Is Unearthed, and Comes into Focus.” It’s an article about an archaeological dig at 190 High Street in Philadelphia, right next to the home of the Liberty Bell, a mansion that was the home for presidents George Washington and John Adams when the federal capitol was still in Philadelphia. I knew that George Washington had slaves, but I didn’t know that he went to such great lengths to hold on to them….

Early efforts to end slavery in Pennsylvania resulted in the passage of the Gradual Abolition Act of 1780, which allowed Washington, as a citizen of Virginia, to keep his slaves here for six months, at which point they were entitled to freedom. But Washington circumvented the Pennsylvania law, Mr. Lawler [a historian with the Independence Hall Association] said, by rotating the slaves across state lines…. Link.

Yuck. I already know that many of our presidents have feet of clay, so I suppose it’s good for me to remember that the trend began with George Washington. On the positive side, it’s good to know that Pennsylvania passed abolition legislation as early as 1780.

Even better, the news story reveals that two of Washington’s slaves were able to escape from that presidential mansion in Philadelphia. Let freedom ring!

Then I turned to the arts section of the paper, where I read an appreciation of Beverly Sills, the opera star who died on Monday. It’s sad that Sills died, but I loved reading about how she appeared on TV in the 1970’s with comedian Carol Burnett and popular singers Eydie Gormie and Dinah Shore — and how the four of them argued about who was who’s best friend. Beverly Sills not only had a gorgeous voice, but she helped the TV-viewing public realize that “high culture” was a whole lot of fun….

Watching Ms. Sills schmoozing with her friends on television, hearing her sing comic duets with Ms. Burnett one moment and lyrical Donizetti arias the next, had a major impact on American culture. Millions of viewers who had assumed that opera was an elitist art form for bloated divas pretending to be lovesick adolescents experienced little epiphanies before their television sets…. Link.

What a great moment for America, as American-born and American-trained Beverly Sills showed both the intellectuals and the average TV-viewer that Art Is Fun. Makes me proud to be an American.

One thought on “July 4th. Woo, hoo.

Comments are closed.