Throwing the Founding Fathers into the void with Aaron Rabinowitz
This time we will go to some new territories and explore the Founding Fathers, aliens and philosophy. To make sense of all this, we have Aaron Rabinowitz, a philosopher, and lecturer at Rutgers University. He writes a column in The Skeptic and hosts Embrace the Void and Philosophers in Space podcasts. You find his Twitter (if it still exists) by pressing the link.
We're discussing the Plurality of worlds theory, exploring the conspiracies in Washington DC, and how to meet people believing in these strange claims. It's an exciting and thoughtful journey through history and philosophy.
This episode is based on the claims in Ancient Aliens episode eleven of season three called "Aliens and The Founding Fathers" (S03E11).
In this episode:
1952 Washington, D.C., UFO incident
The Plurality of Worlds
Green-skinned Native Americans
Founding fathers as Freemasons
Freemasonry symbols in Washington D.C.
The Apotheosis of Washington
And a big thank you to Cait over at Drunk Mythology Gals for lending her voice for the into.
In this episode, they bring up Washington's vision. This was an event, according to the show, that supposedly happened at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania during the winter of 1777. This was the height of the Revolutionary war. The continental forces were struggling with the cold and get the supplies they needed. Up to 2000 soldiers died during this encampment.
But how could Washington keep his forces motivated? How did he not surrender? Could it be that he had extraterrestrial visitors that shared knowledge with him? If you ask the Ancient Alien crowd the answer is of course yes. Washington had a vision that he would win this war and it was influenced by aliens.
The first thing we would want to do in these situations is to see if the event really did happen. There’s no doubt that Washington was at Vally Forge during the winter of 1777 to 1778. It was indeed a challenging encampment that the soldier suffered through. But when it comes to the vision things start to become a bit dubious. We find it in print for the first time in the “Union Casket”, a periodical for Union Soldiers. This was in April of 1881, at the start of the Civil War.
It was written by Charles Wesley Alexander under the pen name, Wesley Bradshaw. It was never meant to be a true account of something Washington experienced but more as an inspirational story. Charles did write a couple of these types of stories about different people from American history. None of it was meant to be taken literary and I think you will see this too if you read the full account.
But it was not just visions Washinton experienced. In his war journals, according to Ancient Aliens, he describes what seems to be direct contact with extraterrestrial life. But it seems as if Washington was not really aware of this. In the journals, he describes a group of Native Americans with green skins that came with information about the British movements.
Now we need to again figure out where this claim comes from and if it’s possible to read these diaries. But this turned out to be harder than one first thought. But there are a few names that you will encounter in most of these retellings and you’ll soon realize that they all build on the exact same source.
The author's name of the article is Basil Hill and it’s usually claimed that this was originally written in The Sun. The year or any other dates of publication is never revealed in these instances. But I’ve not been able to locate any article with The Sun containing the information we get. Basil Hill is quite non-existent online except for in the instances when the “article” is published. The same is for the author or researcher or historian Quentin Burde in Edinburgh, Scotland. That different web pages give this individual different titles is usually cause for some alarm. But it’s also a person who seems to have no Internet presence except in relation to the article George Washington and the “greenies.”
Is it possible to find the origin? Some of the “reprints” contained a little bit of text, at the end, stating “This information has been taken from The BBS Archive CD Rom.” In this case, BBS stands for Bulletin Board System, and even if I didn’t find the CD I found other articles with this phrase. All of those are leading to a now-defunct site called book-of-thoth.com. The way back machine only contains a couple of snapshots of the start page but it seems to have been a “paranormal research forum” where users could post their ideas as at any other online forum. Some of these “research” threads were converted to articles and published on some sort of CD.
So did Washington encounter a green-skinned tribe of Native Americans who helped him win the war? Most likely not.
On April the 5th, 1800, a strange event supposedly took place in Baton Rouge. An event in the sky was caught by a set of witnesses. In Ancient Aliens, it’s portrayed that William Dunbar saw this event take place and reported this to Vice President Jefferson. Dunbar was an astronomer, merchant, and explorer but not a witness to the event. Dunbar was reporting something that had been told to him, so we are talking about second or third-hand sources.
In this episode we learn that this object was flying really slowly, ruling out a meteorite. But if we again start to look at the sources we learn the following.
“It was first seen in the South West, and
moved so rapidly, passing over the heads
of the spectators, as to disappear in the
North East in about a quarter of a minute.”
- William Dunbar 1804
It does not really cope with what we’re told in the episode. From the sound of the original article, it seems to be a smaller meteor, or it could be something else. Unfortunately, we don’t have whatever crashed preserved or described in greater detail. But it’s more likely to be a natural cause for it than an extraterrestrial. The description of the result of a loud crash doesn’t really correspond with an alien craft crashing. A small meteorite on the other hand might be a more likely scenario.
Sources, resources, and further reading suggestions
Bradshaw, W. (1881). Washington’s Vision. [online] Wright American Fiction. Available at: https://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/TEIgeneral/view?docId=wright/VAC5570
Cannon, W.F. (1968). Response : UFO in 1800: Meteor?. Science, 160(3833), pp.1260–1260. doi:10.1126/science.160.3833.1260.b https://www.science.org/doi/pdf/10.1126/science.160.3833.1260.b
Cruz, H.D. (2022). A dazzling multiplicity of worlds: summary of de Fontenelle’s Plurality of Worlds (1686). [online] Medium. Available at: https://helenldecruz.medium.com/a-dazzling-multiplicity-of-worlds-summary-of-de-fontenelles-plurality-of-worlds-1686-870955098266
Dick, S.J. and Lederberg, J. (1984). Plurality of worlds: the origins of the extraterrestrial life debate from Democritus to Kant. Cambridge Cambridgeshire; New York: Cambridge University Press.
Dunbar, W. (1804). Description of a singular Phenomenon seen at Baton Rouge. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 6(1). pp 25-26. https://archive.org/details/sim_transactions-of-the-american-philosophical-society_1804_6_0/page/24/mode/2up
JASON COLAVITO. (n.d.). Review of Ancient Aliens S03E11: Lies My TV Told Me. [online] Available at: https://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/review-of-ancient-aliens-s03e11-lies-my-tv-told-me
King, C. (2020). Gods of the upper air: how a circle of renegade anthropologists reinvented race, sex, and gender in the twentieth century. New York: Anchor Books, A Division Of Penguin Random House Llc.
Lengel, E.G. (2011). Inventing George Washington. Harper Collins https://books.google.se/books/about/Inventing_George_Washington.html?id=DktjbvbR07gC&redir_esc=y
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. (n.d.). Peoples & Creatures of the Moon | Life on Other Worlds | Articles and Essays | Finding Our Place in the Cosmos: From Galileo to Sagan and Beyond | Digital Collections | Library of Congress. [online] Available at: https://www.loc.gov/collections/finding-our-place-in-the-cosmos-with-carl-sagan/articles-and-essays/life-on-other-worlds/peoples-and-creatures-of-the-moon
Mikkelson, D. (2002). George Washington’s Vision. [online] Snopes.com. Available at: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/george-washingtons-vision/
Roush, W. (2021). The Surprisingly Long History of Speculation About Extraterrestrials – The Wire Science. [online] Available at: https://science.thewire.in/the-sciences/for-how-long-has-humankind-contemplated-aliens/
Willinsky, J. (2000). Learning to divide the world: education at empire’s end. Minneapolis, Minn.; London: University Of Minnesota Press.
“Folie hatt” by Trallskruv
Lily of the woods by Sandra Marteleur