of a very embarassing (for european-american
s) event in United States
: Amherst effected the genocide
of the native American
people) living in a particular patch of what became western Massachusetts
by making them a gift of warm woolen blankets, which just happened to be infested with smallpox
As a result of this and other no doubt noble acts of warfare, Jeffrey became Lord Jeff, and the town of Amherst was named after him. At one point, the local paper printed a letter to the editor opining that the town should consider changing its name. This prompted my only letter to the editor. While i feel that the history is heinous, i don't think "the children" should be protected from knowledge of it.
To the Editor:
I am writing in response to the letter "Amherst should mull changing its name," from F------ P----. I have to come out in opposition.
These days, Amherst, the place, has a far larger name than that of Jeffrey Amherst. It is known for its schools, arts, atmosphere, and yes, history. Secondarily, one might learn that it was named for a cold and strategic killer. I believe that instead of being a memorial to a man and his heinous deeds, the name (if anything) serves to remind us of an act which could otherwise be easily swept under the carpet. I, and I suspect many others, came to know the reputation of Lord Amherst only after (and because of) the place.
I fear the attitude implied in the statement "whatever is accepted and written in the name of history can plant harmful or healthy seeds for future generations," when featurd in an argument for this name change. Future generations must know their heritage, including the unpleasant bits. Such delicate renaming does not undo the genocide, but it does erase a pointer which could lead to discovery and understanding. The lesson which is now brought up indirectly each time the name "Amherst" is spoken could then be hidden in a quickly-forgotten grade school history text. This does not show "respect" or "acknowledgement", but (warranted) embarassment and an urge for a 'quick fix' for the unsightly parts of our history.
And of course, to implement this dubious plan, there would be expense and headaches of chaging each record and map. Definitely a job for the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue) to sort out, so that the record may finally be set clean, if not straight.
Much to my dismay, they left out the whole last paragraph when they printed the letter.