The “Sons of Liberty” mini-series premieres this Sunday on the History Channel. I have slowly come around to wanting see it. I think it might be a guilty pleasure because I’m not sure how good it will be as a history show.
The trailer makes it seem like it will be an action epic. While that could be great television, my take is that there was great reluctance to take action among the Founding Fathers. They didn’t want to start a fight with their mother country. They just wanted to live in peace.
Great Britain didn’t make it easy, though. Check out this article on Mental Floss about how much tax some common items would have added to their actual cost. For instance, a hundredweight of foreign coffee had nearly $351 in taxes added to it in order to make it far more expensive than British coffee. It was a way to modify the behavior of the colonists through taxation.
Sound familiar? Our government still continues to do this to us through the IRS and a tax code that is so large that the national debt could probably be paid off if colonial-era taxes had to be paid on the printing of a single copy.
I also notice that the “Sons of Liberty” will feature scenes of the Boston Massacre and the trial of the British soldiers afterwards. I’ll be curious as to how these scenes compare to the same ones in David McCullough’s “John Adams” mini-series. That show had moments of drama, but it focused more on the people of the time and how they created a nation.
It’s nice to see so much history in the movies and on TV, but each new show seems to spark a debate over how much of the history shown is accurate. Sometimes, the complaints can be very nit-picky, such as whether a particular garment was closed with buttons or pegs. Other times, it’s more serious, such as whether a particular historical character actually acted as he or she is portrayed.
Too often, these modern depictions of history are shaped through the lens of current mores. I can only hope that future generations view these films as we view historical films today; entertainment that can’t be taken too seriously.
Take a look at the trailer for “Sons of Liberty.” You might want to watch it, too, to get one view of history.