TIP: S9E02 "Disheartening Situation"
I’ve never set out to make any of these TIPs overtly political, even though I wouldn’t really care if one became that way. Just as Archer the television show isn’t overtly political, but isn’t afraid to dabble here and there on certain topics, so long as it isn’t too heavy handed. That all said, the research for this weeks TIP lead me to a political topic that has lingered for over 200 years in the U.S., and you could say it’s been a political topic in a very broad sense as long as humans have had fingers to point and mouths to run.
In this case, we need to start on the floor of the House of Representatives in February 20th, 1820. On that day, Felix Walker, representative from North Carolina, went to give a speech about slavery.
Debate on the federal role in regulating slavery had been raging for a whole year, and would eventually lead what we now know as the Missouri Compromise, a deal which we do not have time to go over in detail. However, you can safely say the losers of the compromise were the slaves.
To backtrack slightly, in 1803, the United States made what was known as the Louisiana Purchase, a massive acquisition of land from France, which cost the US about $16 million at the time (About $319 million in 2018 dollars).
In hindsight, that was a very good deal. However, you can safely say the losers of the deal were Native Americans...
and probably like, bison?
Anyway, over the next few decades, the territories under that purchase began to go through the process of settling, dividing, and eventually applying for statehood. This is where Felix Walker comes in.
Representatives from Northern states had been trying to pass a law that would ban any new states formed in the west from allowing slavery. Obviously the South, where slavery was still legal, didn’t like this, and felt that since their taxes had been used in the purchase of that western land, they should have the freedom to move and settle there, with any of their current legal property (i.e. humans). As you might be able to gather, this was a heated debate. In 40 years it would literally be a war. So in 1820, right on the heels of the vote to compromise, Felix Walker steps to the podium, for the first time in the entire debate on this topic, to give what would be a 4,908 word speech.
In comparison, this long ass post that you’re reading right now will be about 1000 words, and my words likely have half as many letters. I did the math (poorly), and speaking around 100 words per minute (Felix was from the South, thus likely a slow talker. Hookworm Phonics), that would have been nearly an hour long speech.
That’s a long ass speech.
What was especially irksome about it though, was it was a massive waste of breath. Even Felix admitted as much before he even began. I kid you not, this is a quote from the first paragraph of the speech:
In giving my views on this subject, I find I have to encounter difficulties that I cannot avoid. It has undergone such a luminous discussion, so as almost to preclude further investigation, and anything more that could be said appears like beating the air or speaking to the wind. I have been looking out for some unbeaten path, some untrodden ground, wherein I might pursue the principle without a commentary on those who have gone before me, but find it scarcely attainable; as believing it will materially affect the interests of that portion of the community I represent, I feel it a duty incumbent upon me to resist the proposition, and state my objections to its adoption, under a conviction that the principle is incompatible with the true policy of this country.
Basically he was saying: I know that what I’m about to say is beating a dead horse, but I’m gonna power on through anyway, because that’s what my voters expect.
Felix did not get to finish his speech, because his comrades got tired of his blathering, and shouted him down. In the midst of all the shouting, Rep. Walker tried to explain that he was not speaking to his fellow congressman, but instead, speaking to his constituents, the good people of Buncombe County, North Carolina.
You might say that Felix Walker was trying to take a nuanced position, by admitting the slavery was evil, but also trying to preserve the status quo and not encite the violence that he knew would be unavoidable in the form of a civil war. Or, you also could just say that it was euphemistic, rambling double speak. Congress decided to give this sort of gibberish a nickname: Buncombe.
Felix Walker’s name may be largely forgotten, but his legacy of political jargon lives on. Perhaps to differentiate from the actual location, or just 2BSoRaNdOm, the pejorative term for double-speak began to be spelled “Bunkum”.
This is the root of our current terminology for “bunk” and probably more actively used opposite, “debunk”.
In many ways, that was a total sidebar to the current political issue: Buncombe County.
This is still a county in North Carolina, and it happens to be the county that largely encompasses The City of Asheville, famous for Thomas Wolfe’s long-ass plays, The big ol’ Biltmore Estate, weird tangy BBQ sauce, and televisions silverfox: Adam Reed.
The fact that Adam Reed is from Asheville, is reason that Archer bourbon of choice is called “Old Buncombe”.
However, the reason that Buncombe County has it’s name, is because of a complicated individual: Edward Buncombe. Edward Buncombe (1742-1778) was, in chronological order, an English born, plantation inheriter, slave owner, revolutionary war Colonel, P.O.W., sleepwalker, stair-faller, bleed-to-deather.
Like much of the South, his name brings with it plenty of baggage, but also some good ol’ southern yarns that no other place could spin.
I could keep going, be we need to wrap this up. This week, quite obviously, we’re drinking:
Drink it out of a flask.
Drink it from a glass on ice.
Drink it directly from the bottle.
Drink as you see fit.
I’m not your supervisor.
There are so many overlapping drinks this season, I’m finding it a bit tough to figure out which ones I’m going to talk about for each episode. This time around, you can continue to drink Pastis, or Champagne, or you can make a guess at what cocktail Malory has had in hands lately, because that’s what we’re gonna be talking about next week.