Absolute worship of our Founding Fathers is quite the fad in some tea party circles. The brave men (and a scant handful of women) who founded this nation should be treated with honor and respect. They literally put their lives on the line to accomplish what they did. They overcame themselves to triumph. Once they had succeeded in their quest, they went back to squabbling amongst themselves, back-stabbing, and being normal men.
Much is also being made about the time in which these men lived, with the less informed waxing poetic about the era as a kinder, more gentler age where men were God-fearing and women did what they were told. Many of our Founders were church-goers, because that is what people did in those days. Even Benjamin Franklin, who believed only in himself, pretended to support a church. It was good for business.
If a tea party “patriot” were to be transported back in time (probably by doing the old Star Trek slingshot around the sun thing) to Philadelphia in 1776 they might not like it. They might discover that the world of the Founders was just plain nasty, smelly, deadly, and very unappetizing.
On the way to meeting with our Founders, a person unaccustomed to treading the streets of a town of that era was a prime target – to have the “slops” emptied on them. There were no toilets, no plumbing, and no running water. If a person was fortunate, they had access to an outhouse. At night, though, they used the chamber pot. During the day, a servant would simply toss the contents of the chamber pot – the slops – into the street. Anyone not familiar with the process was in danger of being doused with urine, vomit, and feces.
Even if one avoided being hit by the “slops” a person should tread carefully. The streets were full of urine, vomit, feces, dead animals, and standing water. They were a breeding ground for disease. Life was so dangerous, half the children born during those glorious years did not survive beyond childhood. But, it was a time of heady anticipation of independence brought to you by enlightened men, right?
Once our time traveler finally located the meeting rooms where the Continental Congress was in session, the vile sensory assault did not end. A modern American would probably be ready to throw up. The smells on the street were nasty. The insects were thick. The sight of meat hanging, covered in flies, ready to be sold for lunch, would probably make a modern person nauseous. Don’t count on a cool glass of water to help with the nausea. Oh, the ice might be there, but a word of caution — don’t drink the water. It was contaminated, filthy, deadly. You only drank water from wells you knew were safe.