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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fort Lee, Fort Washington and Hubris

As noted in a post last year around this time, November 16 marks the anniversary of the fall of Fort Washington in Manhattan, and the abandonment of Fort Lee on November 20, 1776.  With that, the fall of New York to the British in the year of independence was complete, and Washington began his retreat across New Jersey.  Today one can visit the ramparts of Fort Lee along the Hudson River, and see recreations of the battlement.  Here is an abatis on the site.  The abatis was meant to be an obstacle that would impede the easy forward motion of the attacker, and usually contained sharpened tree branches facing outward.  After the debacle of Fort Washington, there was no longer a benefit of having a sister fort across the river.  The impressive and daunting abatis proved absolutely useless.

There was a lot of hubris during the Revolution.  Fort Washington cost the Americans dearly in men and resources, because bravado and strong words clouded judgment.  For all its geographic strength, Fort Lee could not hold out, either.  One is reminded of these things as we witness the disastrous roll out of the Affordable Care Act, where more than three years of rhetoric and brave words are no substitute for the reality of life.  The marketplace, like the battlefield, are rooted in facts, not suppositions.

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