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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > American Age of Discovery, Colonization, Revolution, & Expansion > American Revolution

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American Revolution 1763-1789 The birth of a new nation - to commence at the Proclaimation of 1763 to the end of the Articles of Confederation.

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Old 01 Aug 16, 12:17
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Simcoe Day ...

... is celebrated annually by the people of the City of Toronto on the first Monday of the month of August to commemorate John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada (1791- 1796), famous for the first Act Against Slavery in the British Empire, and for offering Americans land from the Crown much cheaper than they'd ever find in the US, to settle and populate the British Province of Upper Canada.

American television viewers will of course recognize this same Simcoe as a younger man, Captain John Graves Simcoe, vilified as the antagonist of AMC's "TURN: Washington's Spies":

"A ruthless attack dog, Simcoe harbors an intense dislike of most colonists, especially Abe. Simcoe's lack of restraint is his undoing, however, and his killing of Caleb's uncle allows Hewlett to dislodge him from Setauket by the end of the first season. Major John André has a use for Simcoe's remorseless ways, however – hunting down rebel spies on Long Island. Having been appointed leader of the Queen's Rangers in place of Robert Rogers, Simcoe relocates the unit back to Setauket, a provocation to his old boss Hewlett. By the end of the second season, their feud has come into the open, and Setauket is threateneds to be torn apart by a civil war between rival British forces."

Wiki says "The show takes considerable liberties with the biographies and activities of the historical personalities.", but that's quite the disparity, wonder why?

Queen's Park, the Ontario Legislature:


vs.

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  #2  
Old 04 May 17, 20:55
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I don't think tv/movie writers/producers usually care how they treat historical characters, sadly. Especially "minor" ones for a target audience. How many in the US had even heard of Simcoe before the show "TURN"? I can kind of understand with a movie - there is such limited time to get the important points across, but it is really annoying in tv shows, imo.

Although I can't claim any great knowledge of the man, it does seem like Simcoe was among the officers who felt the war would end sooner if the British army enforced a more ruthless policy towards the colonists. This doesn't mean he revelled in it, nor that he wanted it - just that he felt it would actually save lives by ending the war sooner.

Grand Forage 1778 by Todd Braisted discusses Simcoe's attitude during the war to some degree.

I read somewhere, if true, that Simcoe was the first person in the colonies to give his sweetheart a Valentine (or one he wished to be his sweetheart). She was actually a patriot, which ruined any chance for them. I haven't dug around enough to know if that's true, but it's fascinating if it happened.
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Old 27 May 17, 10:53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R5 plus View Post
I don't think tv/movie writers/producers usually care how they treat historical characters, sadly. Especially "minor" ones for a target audience. How many in the US had even heard of Simcoe before the show "TURN"? I can kind of understand with a movie - there is such limited time to get the important points across, but it is really annoying in tv shows, imo.

Although I can't claim any great knowledge of the man, it does seem like Simcoe was among the officers who felt the war would end sooner if the British army enforced a more ruthless policy towards the colonists. This doesn't mean he revelled in it, nor that he wanted it - just that he felt it would actually save lives by ending the war sooner.

Grand Forage 1778 by Todd Braisted discusses Simcoe's attitude during the war to some degree.

I read somewhere, if true, that Simcoe was the first person in the colonies to give his sweetheart a Valentine (or one he wished to be his sweetheart). She was actually a patriot, which ruined any chance for them. I haven't dug around enough to know if that's true, but it's fascinating if it happened.
Well said, and I agree with your comments. I think it's quite possible that the mere name "Queen's Rangers" was a harbinger of problems of reputation for Simcoe in America from the get-go. It's largely forgotten now, but in the American experience, the titles "Rangers" and "Scalp-Hunters" had been nearly synonymous long before the Revolutionary period. The Queen's Rangers from their inception had been the product of Robert Rogers, by then a shadow of his former self. The British had removed and replaced much of Rogers' more savage riff-raff group of officers before Simcoe had taken command, in that regard they barely qualified as "Rangers" in the more traditional sense at the time. That's not to say that writers of poetry couldn't become leaders in la petite guerre, some of the best had come from aristocracy, but even they were considerably harsher than Simcoe.

It's been a while since my original post so I had to go back and spend some more time with this. I found that author Todd Braisted figures prominently on the TURN/Simcoe bits on the website:

https://spycurious.wordpress.com


The Calamitous Captivity of John Graves Simcoe (Todd Braisted)

https://spycurious.wordpress.com/tag...graves-simcoe/



Quote:
New Scholarly Roundtable on Historical Accuracy vs. “Truth” in TURN
POSTED ON JULY 22, 2015 UPDATED ON JANUARY 9, 2016

https://spycurious.wordpress.com/201...table-on-turn/

Academia finally joins the conversation about TURN! The newest issue of Common-place, an online scholarly journal of Early American life and culture, just launched yesterday — and it features a Roundtable discussion about historical accuracy in TV and film, using TURN: Washington’s Spies as a case study. Don’t let the “scholarly journal” part scare you off — the two main articles in this Roundtable are spirited and highly-readable commentary pieces that are must-reads for any serious fan — or critic — of TURN.

This new issue of Common-place continues that incredibly important conversation, featuring some names that might be familiar to readers of this blog. To kick things off, I wrote the brief introduction to the Roundtable, framing the debate’s central questions:

Do the virtues of inaccurate historical films outweigh their vices?
How much weight should accuracy have in our evaluation of historical film?
Most importantly, are there historical narrative truths that supersede factual accuracy?
To devoted students of history, that last question might sound silly, if not completely ridiculous — after all, if facts don’t matter, then what does? But it’s a question that more and more people these days — including the writers and producers of TURN — are answering with a resounding “YES.”

More specific to Simcoe:

Quote:
.... T. Cole Jones explains why he finds TURN’s blatant disregard for historical fact extremely problematic. Longtime readers of this blog are already familiar with Dr. Jones, who penned an excellent piece analyzing the treatment of prisoners of war in Season 1 of TURN. In his article for Common-place, Jones targets the show’s portrayal of John Graves Simcoe as a murderous sociopath and cartoonish British villain. He doesn’t mince words, arguing that TURN’s “artistic liberties” are so factually untrue they’d “undoubtedly expose the producers to a defamation of character suit were the people portrayed in the series still alive.” According to Jones, a number of TURN’s factual problems can be traced back to the show’s alleged source material: Alexander Rose’s book Washington’s Spies. It’s a solemn reminder that not all history books are created equal.
Read Cole Jones’ Roundtable article here.

http://www.common-place-archives.org...l#.WSi332jyvIU
It's a good read, I'll only include this bit, which is quite telling of the man:

Quote:
"The historical Simcoe, despite his firm belief that the stick was a better inducement for loyalty than the carrot, was no murderer. The Duke of Northumberland, who knew him well, claimed that Simcoe was "brave, humane, sensible, and honest." Even Simcoe's arch rival, American cavalry commander Colonel Henry Lee, described Simcoe as "one of the best officers in the British army" who "was a man of letters, and like the Romans and Grecians, cultivated science amid the turmoil of camp." To Lee, Simcoe was "enterprising, resolute, and persevering." It is hard to imagine an American officer endorsing someone who regularly murdered Patriot soldiers and brutalized civilians. Turn's portrayal sullies the memory of an officer who, though inveterately opposed to American independence, served his king and cause with honor and vigor."
The snippet from Northumberland was included in a letter of introduction given to Simcoe, as Lt. Gov. of Upper Canada, to Joseph Brant.


This is a quote from "Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring", by Alexander Rose, the book on which TURN is based, as Dr. Jones states, "a solemn reminder that not all history books are created equal", regarding the Valentine referred to above:

Quote:
"When Robert Townsend first visited his home—now an armed camp under total military control and crammed with drunken soldiers—after November 1778 (perhaps at Christmastime), his reaction can only be imagined. He was bound to have been at first horrified, then enraged, at seeing his father kowtowing to the likes of Simcoe and his sister subjected to the colonel’s amorous intentions (including an unspeakably mawkish love poem, apparently the first Valentine card ever sent in America)". And that was before he heard the tales of woe from his childhood friends and family about the excesses committed by their new, unwelcome occupiers."
Note: Rose doesn't provide a source for this narrative, we can assume the comments are his own.


This is from the Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay NY, the home of George Washington’s intelligence operative Robert Townsend referred to above:

http://raynhamhallmuseum.org


Quote:
America’s First Valentine

John Graves Simcoe also had a more personal link with the Townsend Family. Indeed, Raynham Hall is home to the first known Valentine in the United States, addressed to Sarah from Simcoe, and presented to her on February 14th, 1779. The Valentine alludes to the difficulty of loving an enemy. The poem reads:

Fairest Maid, where all is fair, Beauty’s pride and Nature’s care;
To you my heart I must resign, O choose me for your Valentine!
Love, Mighty God! Thou know’st full well, where all thy Mother’s graces dwell,
Where they inhabit and combine to fix thy power with spells divine;
Thou know’st what powerful magick lies within the round of Sarah’s eyes,
Or darted thence like lightning fires, and Heaven’s own joys around inspires;
Thou know’st my heart will always prove the shrine of pure unchanging love!
Say; awful God! Since to thy throne two ways that lead are only known—
Here gay Variety presides, and many a youthful circle guides
Through paths where lilies, roses sweet, bloom and decay beneath their feet;
Here constancy with sober mien regardless of the flowery Scene
With Myrtle crowned that never fades, in silence seeks the Cypress Shades,
Or fixed near Contemplation’s cell, chief with the Muses loves to dwell,
Leads those who inward feel and burn and often clasp the abandon’d urn,–
Say, awful God! Did’st thou not prove my heart was formed for Constant love?
Thou saw’st me once on every plain to Delia pour the artless strain—
Thou wept’sd her death and bad’st me change my happier days no more to range
O’er hill, o’er dale, in sweet Employ, of singing Delia, Nature’s joy;
Thou bad’st me change the pastoral scene forget my Crook; with haughty mien
To raise the iron Spear of War, victim of Grief and deep Despair:
Say, must I all my joys forego and still maintain this outward show?
Say, shall this breast that’s pained to feel be ever clad in horrid steel?
Nor swell with other joys than those of conquest o’er unworthy foes?
Shall no fair maid with equal fire awake the flames of soft desire:
My bosom born, for transport, burn and raise my thoughts from Delia’s urn?
“Fond Youth,” the God of Love replies, “Your answer take from Sarah’s eyes.”



The Valentine was said to have been found among Sarah’s possessions after her death at the age of 82. Sarah never married, and we may never know what effect the Valentine might have had on her life, nor the true nature of her relationship with Simcoe.
I think all-in-all Simcoe, over his lifetime, was a soldier, and a Governor, but a decent guy throughout, and nothing like he's portrayed in TURN.
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Old 16 Aug 17, 21:31
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I had never heard of him before TURN, and I figure they really stretched his personality in the show, but man I hated that guy
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Old 17 Aug 17, 10:34
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If you're not a student of the War of the Revolution, you probably would not have heard of him unless you're a Canadian.

He was an excellent commander, combat leader, and superior as a man. All in all, a good man to have around.
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Old 18 Aug 17, 13:27
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There is a fort Simcoe in Washington State

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Simcoe
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