I toiled, I sweated, I researched, and I wrote. And I loved every minute of it. I followed the advice Sir Herbert Butterfield (1900-1979) by immersing myself in history. The result was my Master’s Thesis entitled, ““More Dangerous Enemies”: The Role of Nationalism in the Execution of Admiral John Byng, 1756-1757.” It received distinction by a panel of historians. I’m mighty proud of it.

But what is it about?

Well, an admiral who was arrested, put on trial, found guilty, and then executed by firing squad.

What was his crime?

John Byng was found guilty by a military Courts Martial for “not doing his utmost.” You read correctly. Admiral Byng died by firing squad because – according to the court – he did not do his best.

Fairly subjective, eh? Indeed. And so, just on the face of it, this raises all sorts of questions.

Let’s see, questions about justice, about loyalty, about citizenship, about the rule of law, questions about honesty, about conscience, and definitely questions about punishment befitting to the crime (thus the execution of the admiral may have been on the minds of those American founders that wrote the 8th Amendment to the Constitution).

But there were also riots, massive riots. And there was also media manipulation, massive behind the scenes manipulation. In this light, questions of nationalism arise, and this is where my paper focused.

 

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