Happy Evacuation Day

  • Aired:  11/17/11
  •  | Views: 118,508

Sarah Vowell thinks that Americans should be thanking the 11,000 loyal patriots who perished on British prison ships instead of some Mayflower-cruising Jesus freaks. (6:36)

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ).

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

FLEISS TO SEE YOU.

TONIGHT, THIS IS OUR FINAL SHOW.

WE HAVE NEXT WEEK OFF.

AS YOU KNOW, NEXT WEEK IS

THANKSGIVING.

HERE ARE SOME THOUGHT ON THE

HOLIDAY.

WE HAVE AN AUTHOR OF NOTSZ,

WOMAN OF LETTERS.

PLEASE WELCOME OUR NEW SENIOR

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

CORRESPONDENT, SARAH VOWELL.

SARAH VOWELL, NICE TO SEE YOU

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE )

LET ME BE THE FIRST TO SAY THAT

TH-- HAPPY THINGS.

>> TAKE THAT BACK, STEWART.

>> Jon: WHAT?

TAKE IT BACK!

WHY?

>> THANKSGIVING IS SUCH AN

INTERIOR HOLIDAY, ESPECIALLY

WHEN THERE'S A MUCH BETTER ONE

THE DAY AFTER-- MORE STIRRING,

MORE INSPIRATIONAL.

IT IS CALLED EVACUATION DAY.

( LAUGHTER )

>> Jon: THAT'S A LITTLE

CRASS, DON'T YOU THINK?

I MEAN, YOU'RE ON NPR.

I KNOW PEOPLE EAT TURKEY AND

RICH FOODS, BUT I THINK WHAT

HAPPENS AFTER THAT--

>> EVACUATION DAY COMMEMORATES

THE LAST BRITISH TROOPS FLEEING

MANHATTAN AT THE END OF THE

REVOLUTIONARY WAR IN 1783.

>> Jon: SEE, I THOUGHT THAT

WAS IN-- IN '97.

>> NO, WE SIGNED THE TREATY OF

PARIS IN SEPTEMBER OF '83.

>> Jon: WAS THAT 18 OR 17?

>> YOU'RE FAMILIAR WITH JULY 4,

1776?

>> Jon: YES, I AM

( LAUGHTER )

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE!

>> THAT'S RIGHT, TIMMY.

( LAUGHTER )

BUT YOU KNOW THE WAR DIDN'T ALL

TAKE PLACE ON THAT ONE DAY.

IT STARTED BEFORE THAT, AND WE

FOUGHT THE REDCOATS FOR SEVEN

MORE YEARS.

>> Jon: YES, YES, YES.

SO WHY WAS EVACUATION DAY SUCH A

BIG DEAL?

>> WELL, AS THE DECLARATION OF

INDEPENDENCE WAS BEING SIGNED,

400 SHIPS FULL OF BIG, BAD LIMEY

BASTARDS STARTED SHOWING UP IN

NEW YORK HARBOR TO CRUSH THE

PIDDLY LITTLE ARMY LED BY GEORGE

WASHINGTON.

WASHINGTON'S TROOPS WERE

WHOOPED, EMBARRASSED, AND

HUMILIATED UNTIL THEY RETREATED

TO NEW JERSEY IN SHAME.

( LAUGHTER )

>> Jon: I BELIEVE THAT WAS

THE NEW JERSEY STATE MOTTO FOR A

WHILE

( LAUGHTER ).

>> WHAT WAS?

>> Jon: RETREAT HERE IN

SHAME.

( LAUGHTER ).

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

THIS IS ABOUT YOU.

INSTEAD OF THE FACT THAT THIS

DEFEAT MEANT THAT THE BRITISH

OCCUPIED OUR BELOVED NEW YORK

FOR THE NEXT SEVEN YEARS.

>> Jon: I'M SURE THEY WERE,

YOU KNOW, PLEASANT ENOUGH

OCCUPIERS, FAMOUS FOR THEIR

HOSPITALITY.

THEY HAD PUDDINGS, PIES.

>> THEY INCARCERATED THOUSANDS

OF AMERICAN POWs IN THESE

HEINOUS ROTTING PRISON SHIPS

ANCHORED THIS THE EAST RIVER.

MORE AMERICAN SOLDIERS DIED IN

THESE NEW YORK PRISONS THAN IN

ALL BATTLES OF THE REVOLUTIONARY

WAR COMBINED.

COMBINED.

>> Jon: WELL, IT SOUND LIKE

A LOVELY HOLIDAY.

UHM-- SO INSTEAD OF THANKSGIVING

YOU WANT AMERICANS TO CELEBRATE

THE 18th CENTURY ABU GHRAIB.

>> NO!

I WANT US TO CELEBRATE VICTORY

WASHINGTON'S TRIUMPHANT RETURN

TO THE CITY HE LOST.

AMERICANS ARE ALWAYS SO EXCITED

ABOUT THE BEGINNING OF A WAR.

WHAT IF WE CELEBRATED HOW WE

USED TO BE GOOD AT ENDING THEM

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ).

>> Jon: ALL RIGHT, I'LL

BITE.

I'LL BITE.

SO HOW-- HOW DO WE-- HOW DO WE

CELEBRATE EVACUATION DAY?

>> WELL, THEY USED TO REENACT

THE EVACUATION'S MOST DRAMATIC

MOMENT-- WHEN A BRISON SHIP

SURVIVOR, JOHN VAN ARSDALE,

CLIMBED A FLAG POLE, RIPPED DOWN

THE DESPICABLE UNION JACK AND

PUT UP THE STARS STARS AND STRIPES TO

THE CHEERS WILL OF THE CROWD!

( CHEERS )

THUS, LATER EVACUATION DAY

SHINDIGS OFTEN INCLUDED POLE

CLIMBING CONTESTS

( LAUGHTER )

>> Jon: WOW.

I WONDER WHY THAT HOLIDAY EVER

DIED OUT?

>> WELL YOU KNOW WHO I BLAME?

>> Jon: I CAN ONLY ASSUME

HITLER

( LAUGHTER ).

>> NO, ABRAHAM ( BLEEP ) LINCOLN

( LAUGHTER ).

>> Jon: WHAT!

LINCOLN!

WHAT!

>> WHEN LINCOLN MADE

THANKSGIVING A NATIONAL HOLIDAY,

EVACUATION DAY ENDED UP LIKE ONE

OF THOSE SHOWS SCHEDULED

OPPOSITE "AMERICAN IDOL." WE

STOPPED HONORING THE 11,000

LOYAL PATRIOTS WHO PERISHED ON

THOSE BRITISH PRISON SHIPS.

THEY WERE OFFERED FREEDOM IF

THEY JUST SWORE ALIEGENCE TO THE

CROWN, AND THEY REFUSED.

YOU REMEMBER WHAT PATRICK HENRY

SAID?

>> Jon: YES.

( LAUGHTER )

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED?

( LAUGHTER ).

>> NO.

"GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME

DEATH."

BUT YOU KNOW HOW HE DIED?

( LAUGHTER )

>> Jon: HE'S DEAD?

( LAUGHTER ).

>> YEAH, YEAH, BUT HE DIED A

QUARTER OF A CONCHRY LATER ON

HIS FARM OF STOMACH CANCER.

THESE PRISONERS, THEY LITERALLY

CHOSE DEATH.

SHOULDN'T WE THANK THEM INSTEAD

OF SOME "MAYFLOWER" CRUISING

JESUS FREAK CORN RUSTLERS?

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE )

DISPL YOU KNOW, SARAH,

THANKSGIVING HAS A PARADE.

>> OH, YOU NEVER HEARD OF THE

MACY'S EVACUATION DAY PARADE?

( LAUGHTER ).

>> Jon: WHAT ARE THOSE

BALLOONS BLOONS?

>> THOSE ARE INFLATABLE LICE.

PRISONERS WERE SO HUNGRY, THEY

WERE KNOWN TO SNACK ON THE LICE

OFF THEIR SHIRTS.

>> Jon: I'LL MAKE SURE TO

GET MY KIDS DOWN THERE THE NIGHT

BEFORE SO WE CAN WATCH THEM

IPFLAT THE LICE.

>> THAT'S A GOOD IDEA.

JUST MAKE SURE THEY'RE HOME IN

TIME TO WATCH THE PEANUT'S

EVACUATION DAY SPECIAL.

>> CAN'T ANYONE TELL ME WHY

EVACUATION DAY IS SO MUCH MORE

MEANINGFUL THAN THANKSGIVING?

>> YOU BET, CHARLIE BROWN.

EVACUATION DAY WAS A JOYFUL

RELIEF FROM SEVEN LONG YEARS OF

HELL.

THOUSANDS OF PATRIOT CORPSES

WERE BURIED IN MASS GRAVES SO

SHALLOW, BODY PARTS CONTINUESED

TO WASH ASHORE THE NEXT 20

YEARS.

IT CELEBRATES THE WEASLEY BRITS.

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE )

>> HAPPY EVACUATION DAY, JON!

>> Jon: HAPPY EVACUATION

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