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June 28, 2024 19 mins

Tracy discusses a surprising Google Street View discovery she made while working on the Francisco de Miranda episodes. Holly shares her thoughts about Miranda as a person. 

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Stuff You Missed in History Class, a production
of iHeartRadio, Hello and Happy Friday. I'm Tracy V. Wilson
and I'm Holly Fry. We spent both of our episodes
this week talking about Francisco to Miranda. Because I saw
a statue in Philadelphia? Is there any better reason? I mean,

(00:26):
it was a great reason. Plus I was getting started
on this. I wanted to confirm where I saw the
statue because I walked around Philadelphia that sort of general
area a bit that day, even though it was snowing
and then horribly raining. Once the horrible rain started, I
just walked back to the hotel, but I wanted to

(00:47):
make sure I remembered, like where the statue was and
what it looked like. And it's in front of the
Franklin Institute. And as I was looking at Google Maps,
I was like, did they drive a Google street View
car through the interior of the Franklin Institute, Because there's
Google street View of the inside of Franklin Institute. And

(01:08):
if you listeners know the story of that. I didn't
call up the Franklin Institute to ask, but I did
ask a former coworker of ours who worked at the
Franklin Institute for several years. That person did not specifically know.
Thought it might have been part of like a pilot
program that never really got off the ground. But if
you look at it on Google Maps, you can get

(01:30):
into the inside of the Franklin Institute on the street view.
It is not as smooth as a lot of like
formally intentionally made three D virtual tours of museums, because
there are times where you can see that there is
Google street view path going through two different rooms, but

(01:50):
you can't get through the door, like oh waituh, But
I was fascinated and that whole like the public art
that is on the street it includes the Rocky statue,
you know, the statue of Rocky at the Art Museum. Also,
what is the most over the top monument to George

(02:12):
Washington that I personally have ever seen in person. It
is not my favorite piece of art in the world.
There are like indigenous people at the bottom kind of
adoringly looking up, and it makes me go yikes every
time I see it. Yeah, I am fascinated by this man.

(02:36):
I am fascinated by his hubris. I struggled mightily with
writing the episode because there were so many parts of
it that we either haven't talked about at all or
we've only talked about in kind of broad strokes that
I needed to do in a little bit more detail.
So like, had never talked about Spain's contribution to the

(02:59):
revolution war at all. We've talked at various points about
the French Revolution and the French Revolutionary Wars, but the
thing that we needed to talk about in this pair
of episodes was like how it actually started? What were
the steps of things that happened? Right? And I had
a real hard time boiling that down into something that

(03:21):
made any sense and seemed accurate. There was just a
lot of it. I was not expecting a two part
episode starting out on it, and I definitely wasn't expecting
a two part episode that took me at least two
additional days longer than normal to get through. Yeah, it's

(03:41):
always tricky. I mean, I find any time I'm talking
about the French Revolution, I like have to silo and
be like, Okay, there's all this other stuff, but today
we just have to talk about this because otherwise my
brain goes going, yes, I will confess to my poor studentship.
Are you ready? Yeah, you had asked me when you
started this, Hey, did you know that Spain had you know,

(04:03):
been contributing to the Revolutionary warr And I was like, yeah,
but I don't remember much about it. And then after
you did your research and I was looking at your outline,
I'm like, that's why I knew, And BOYD, is that
show that I wasn't paying a lot of attention because
I grew up, you know, not far from Pensacola, So
I know I got this education that seems like, if
nothing else, it would have been part of like Florida

(04:24):
state history class. That's exactly what it was. But I
tuned out. Listen, I was a bad history student growing up.
I just was like whatever. But again, you know, it's
a lot of memorizing facts, it didn't really contextualize things. Sure,
just not to rip on teachers. It's a hard job,
and it's been hard in a variety of ways always.
So yeah, I think we've talked on the show before

(04:46):
about how the way history was taught when you and
I were in like R K through twelve education versus
what I will hear public school history teachers talking about
now totally different. Yes, Like our history education involved reading.
From my point, of view the most boring textbooks ever written, Yes,

(05:10):
and then being given what was basically a reading comprehension
test about those textbooks that were so boring that I
could not get any of the stuff to stick in
my head really well hard. Same, And so I like,
will hear friends of mine who are history teachers talking
about like things their students are doing that involve close

(05:32):
reading of primary sources and building connections between different commonalities
and different parts of history and interpreting things, And I'm like,
this would have number one given me a better foundational
knowledge of things, and other also would have been more fun.
I didn't get into that kind of stuff until I
was taking humanities classes in college, which I've said before

(05:54):
was like where I was like, oh I do like history, right, Yeah,
I mean unless you can kind of create a thread
that ties history to the person you're teaching it to
in some way, which usually just involves like giving it
broader context. Yeah, it's really hard for a lot of people,

(06:15):
myself included, to be like, oh, I understand why this
is important, what this is. I see how these are
human beings that were doing things that are flawed, like
all human beings. Then it gets more interesting in a hurry,
but when it's like and then they took Pensacola and
then there was this, and I'm like, I don't I'm

(06:35):
sorry what I was thinking about Grido, I don't like. Yeah, yeah,
I also have this vision of who Miranda was in

(06:56):
my head and why he was so kind of not
thorough in thinking through his plans. Tell me what your
theory is, well, because I see him as the kind
of people everyone knows. I've certainly known a lot of these,
and sometimes I've been this that person who thinks they
know I mean, we know he was conceited, right. I

(07:17):
feel like he would come up with an idea and go,
I'm so clever. Ah, you guys, I've figured it all
out here you go, and like that was it. There
wasn't any follow up on, like, oh, I should vet
this with somebody, I should talk this through. It would
be like I'm a clever man. Here's my clever idea.
You guys can laud me for my cleverness. Now it's like, oh,

(07:40):
you have fallen into your own trap where you are
probably very bright, right, but you haven't learned how to
refine ideas or like develop them past what you think
is your initial genius. Yeah, yeah, yeah, that makes sense.
I'm so clever. It should be on a shirt for him, right.
So I read a couple of biographies. One was by

(08:05):
Karen Raycine called Francisco de Miranda, A Transatlantic Life in
the Age of Revolution I came out on two thousand
and three. And the other was like one of the
really early English language biographies of him, which was by
William Spence Robertson, and that was Francisco to Miranda and
the Revolutionizing of Spanish America. And I can't remember which
of these authors said this, but one or the other

(08:29):
of them was basically like he was really smart and
really well read, but not a deep thinker. And as
I was reading it, it kind of amused me a
little bit because I was sort of thinking about him
in also thinking about Natalie Clifford Barney, whose episode was

(08:50):
also inspired by the same trip to Philadelphia, and I
sort of felt like Francisco to Miranda is to revolution
in Spanish America, as Natalie Clifford Barney is to polyamory.
They just both had like really idealistic, really like surface

(09:14):
level ambitions about things that were way more complicated than
how they handled them in a lot of ways. She
too was very I'm so clever. Yeah, have you noticed
how clever I am? Yeah, she was in terms of
like her relationships with other people. She was like, we're
not going to be monogamous. We're all just gonna love

(09:35):
each other and it's going to be great without kind
of wrestling with what it takes to do that in
a relationship and have it not fall apart into drama.
And at least from my reading, Francisco to Miranda was
kind of like, yeah, we're going to have a revolution
in Spanish America. It's going to be all about freedom
and liberty, and like, in addition to not having really

(10:00):
explored all the layers of what that would involve, that
was so much territory with vastly different populations and experiences,
Like our Saturday classic was on the Tupacumaru Rebellion, and
you know, in the highland areas where a lot of
that happened, the demographics were very different from areas along

(10:21):
the coast. Like so many things, I still find him
so fascinating and so ambitious. I do feel like it
sort of short changes him to boil him down to
these three revolutions, because while it is true that he
was involved in all three of them, they are not
necessarily in the way that a person might imagine based

(10:41):
on that sentence, right, Like when you say he fought
in the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the revolution
in Spanish America, you sort of might imagine him like
rolling into Yorktown and then taking the king to the
guillotine and then and like that's like, that's not well,
not how he was participating. He was busy being clever.

(11:03):
He was very clever. He also did seem to perpetually
be like work in his angles. Yeah, he had a
lot of angles, right, like how can I turn this
thing that's not about me into both being about me
and supporting the thing that I want to do? Yeah.
His story also really highlights how much, in terms of

(11:25):
other nations support of revolutions, how much of that has
absolutely nothing to do with what the revolutionary's stated goals are, Like,
how much of that is really about those nations own
self interest and own priorities. And that is something that
I think that he understood and also didn't want to

(11:50):
think about, because it was like he understood that if
you know, if there was an uprising in the Spanish
car it would distract their focus from things that mattered
to Britain, and he wanted to get Britain's support based
on that idea, but like did not quite take that

(12:11):
to the point of you're talking about a hypothetical thing
when there are actual, real things in front of the
British officials right now that are going to take a priority. Yeah.
One of the other things that really popped out to
me during this episode this may sound like I am
a simpleton, and I am in many ways. You know,

(12:32):
we talk about how and we of course get a
lot of the revolution in the colonies right that ultimately
led to the United States, and this idea of like,
everyone help us, we are trying to gain our independence,
and how quickly it spins around to other people coming
to the US for help and them going, oh, we

(12:53):
are thinking about how this one maybe right, and I'm
just like, whoa, that's a quick turn about. You kind
of became the very thing you said you were fighting
in many ways, which I think happens in almost every
one of those cases throughout history, right, Like, once a

(13:14):
revolutionary faction establishes themselves as the government, then they suddenly
find that they have to deal with matters of state
and where they fit in the global community, and that
becomes a whole other problem that they weren't focusing on
at all as their ideals when they were just moving
forward to gain independence. Yeah, I think this is absolutely

(13:38):
my conjecture. I have not looked into like the historiography
of this at all, but I think it's very easy,
like in school lessons to have this pairing of American
Revolution French Revolution ideals of liberty who helped to Yeah,
that kind of stuff, and it doesn't work quite as

(14:02):
neatly that way with Spain's involvement in the American Revolution.
There's not that quite duality there, I think. So if
you don't know the term historiography, it's like sort of
the whole field of the writing of history, and the
historiography changes over time for a lot of different reasons.

(14:23):
And I am kind of curious if I went back
to history books that were written before World War Two,
what would it say about Spain's involvement in the Revolutionary War,
Like if I went back basically anytime, going farther back
to like any time before the rise of fascism and

(14:45):
the Spanish Civil War, like would books written before that
point treat Spain's involvement in the American Revolution differently than
yours and my experience which was like to not hear
that much about it in an American history class, although
you likely heard about it in a Florida State's history class.

(15:06):
And that's just my conjecture. I don't really know. Also,
we did not even touch on all of the famous
and influential people that this man met during his lifetime.
There's so many. It's so wild how casually he's having
lunches and dinners with people. Yeah, I'm just gonna go
go have dinner with George Washington. One person that came

(15:28):
up in a source that I didn't put into the episode,
but I was curious about is James Berry, who was
a surgeon. And James Berry is like in the big
umbrella of trans history. Based on everything that we know
about him and his life, pretty comfortable saying that, like,

(15:50):
if this person were living today, we would probably describe
James Berry as a trans man. One source that I
used said that this was somebody that Francisco to Miranda
personally knew, and that Francisco de Miranda knew this about

(16:10):
James Berry and helped to keep his secret, and it
was one of those things where I was like, this
sounds interesting. I would like to explore this, but the
one paper that seemed to be the source of this
just wouldn't load like the word there was a link
to it that kept opening as a blank screen, and

(16:33):
I couldn't find another source for getting that paper. And
the way it was worded. Number one, it was this
was in like a Spanish language source that I was
having to run through a translator to just get the
sense of, which is another reason why I was like,
I'm not confident putting this into the episode based on
something that I ran through a translator to try to read.

(16:56):
But it also in that translation read as kind of
conjectural to me, and I was like, I would like
to have more definite information than to just throw something
into the episode that I'm not totally sure about and
can't find the substantiation on. James Barry is somebody that
we used to get a lot of requests about an
episode for that we have not done, in part because

(17:18):
it's not a lot of documentation, not a lot of yea,
not a lot of documentation, but also a story that,
in spite of our best efforts, can like reinforce some
outdated ideas about gender and about transgender people specifically. So
that is just if you're curious why we don't have

(17:39):
an episode. That is why. It's also been some years
since James Barry has come up in my so that
might be that there are better sources now than there
were the last time I thought about possible episodes. So yeah,
the empty tomb at the National Pantheon of Venezuela with
the eagle hold the lid open. That chokes me up

(18:01):
a little bit. Me too. It is clear that he
has an important place in the history of Venezuela and
the rest of the region as well, not just Venezuela.
But yeah, so if you've got stuff happening on the weekend,

(18:21):
I hope it doesn't involve having to try to get
back pay from somebody. And I also but it doesn't evolve
like writing two officials to beg for help and something
that they don't care about. You know, I hope they
do care if that's what you're doing, just because I

(18:42):
know how rough it can be to just butch your
head against something that's not getting the attention that you want.
We'll be back with a Saturday Classic tomorrow. We will
have a brand new episode on Monday. Stuff you Missed
in History Class is a production of iHeartRadio. For more

(19:03):
podcasts from iHeartRadio, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or
wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

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Tracy V. Wilson

Tracy V. Wilson

Holly Frey

Holly Frey

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