When I first heard about the above tweet from the White House I admit I thought it a hoax. I mean really? Especially after Trump’s culture wars speech at Mount Rushmore. Then he comes out with this. As a historian I worry about his world view. As a person I worry about his thinking.
From the top:-
Americans did not harness electricity. Many others were involved in bringing this power to useful form. For example Farraday was an Englishman who invented the electric motor.
Ernest Rutherford was a New Zealander who split the atom at Manchester University (England).
As for Telephones. Sir (theres a clue here somewhere) Alexander Graham Bell was a Scotsman who moved to Canada and invented the telephone.
The Internet as we know it today is joint honours. ARPANET is indeed American but the World Wide Web is English thanks to Tim Berners-Lee despite constant American claims a la Gore etc.
The two World Wars are not America’s alone. Hardly much in fact. The US entered the first World War three years after everyone else (France, The British Empire, Japan, Italy and Romania) and were mostly involved in supplying materials, finished goods and money rather than fighting. America was laying itself open to accusations of profiteering. US Troops only entered the field in the summer of 1918. (The war finished in November 1918).
The second World War was also entered late by America, and only after Japan struck Pearl Harbour. (Actually that is fair enough not wanting to get into wars just dont go saying it was all down to you afterwards!) In the European theatre the main contributer to the allied win was Soviet Russia. If we are brutally honest the whole Normandy landing etc was a side show compared to the war in the east. Not that Russia got much thanks.
Wars are probably not a useful point for politicians to raise, as the US has a long history of NOT winning them.
Certainly the US landed men on the moon. That was a terrific effort and a great achievment. Sadly this has been overshadowed by various administrations ducking out of using the legacy. For over a decade any American astronaughts have needed to be lofted into space courtesy of Russian spacecraft, as America cannot even achieve low earth orbit on its own. As to getting to Mars first to pop his little flag on it – well America had better get a move on before it is beaten in this too.
As to “Winning the West” this you can have, it was never an elegant episode in your history.
Copyright David Macadam 2020