Would you like to have lived in the 19th century?

NBF fan

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I know most of us wonder what it would have been like if we were to have lived in the 19th century, especially during the Civil War era. Due to continued medical advancement, some might say it is a more desirable time to live now, but I think there are pros and cons to both time periods. Would you like to have lived in the 19th century? What would you like to have witnessed, or who is a person you would like to have met?
 
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Grant's Tomb

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Fairfield

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Imagine being a seaman or a gunner aboard a sailing ship in Her Majesty's Navy at the Battle of the Nile or the Battle of Trafalgar or even being aboard the ironclad Monitor facing the Merrimac. That must have been uncomfortable for the crew because once the Monitor was at sea, ventilators failed and the ship was filled gas that made some of the crew grow faint
True, but my family was from Norway which didn't have naval aspirations. I'd probably be a fisherman, plying the coast.
 

NBF fan

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I think about living in the 19th all the time. Actually, I have since I was a young. It mostly stems from my interest in the CW, thinking about being a soldier in the army, marching, battles, what the generals voices may have sounded like. I also think about if I could handle the physical life style. I have worked out all my life, sports, sprinting, MMA... yet I truly wonder if I could make a 30 mile march then fight a battle... all while on 2 hours sleep and with no shoes. The things those men on both sides accomplished during that war truly fascinates me. Always has.
The interest we hold for a different time period and those that have come before us really does make us wonder what our lives might have been like if we had been alive during that time. I too have always loved history, especially the Civil War. The strength and bravery showed on both sides is very commendable.
 

gggfJulius

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There's always something, isn't there? Perhaps the solution would be to have something like the Tardus from the old Dr. Who series so that one could come and go at will--enjoy the good and take off when the bad set it (under the rules of Dr. Who, it was forbidden to interfere).

Or Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
 

Lubliner

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Yes, I agree with that! But it is possible to introduce this less frantic aspect into your life without joining the army. I am probably the only person in Maine without a cell phone/smart phone because one of the pleasures in life is getting away from the telephone. I don't have a (working) TV because there really isn't much worth watching (the only programs I'd watch are on the Web, anyway). And I do without many kitchen appliances because, when one needs to think out a point, there's nothing like tedious, repetitive work.

But I couldn't do without the computer!
I admire the skill set, and the ability to conform oneself to a simpler lifestyle. Time takes on a whole different meaning, and so does distance when comparing walking to driving. I am sure it does a like trick with cooking, though I always use a microwave. I used to build a small wood fire for cooking and walk wherever I wanted to go. Time became irrelevant in many respects, and the natural rhythms of life are much healthier that the quick flight hither and thither. I do not look down upon the creators of all these inventions such as hardware and software. They must be phenomenal people, as well as the true scholars among us. And I am happier sharing what I am capable of with their merchandise among them, then living alone with no voice. I like silence, plenty, but the ability to share is a God-given gift and should not be denied.
Lubliner.
 

Fairfield

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I admire the skill set, and the ability to conform oneself to a simpler lifestyle. Time takes on a whole different meaning, and so does distance when comparing walking to driving. I am sure it does a like trick with cooking, though I always use a microwave. I used to build a small wood fire for cooking and walk wherever I wanted to go. Time became irrelevant in many respects, and the natural rhythms of life are much healthier that the quick flight hither and thither. I do not look down upon the creators of all these inventions such as hardware and software. They must be phenomenal people, as well as the true scholars among us. And I am happier sharing what I am capable of with their merchandise among them, then living alone with no voice. I like silence, plenty, but the ability to share is a God-given gift and should not be denied.
Lubliner.
Thank you--BUT it is not necessarily a simpler life style but one with different priorities. I'm sure that I spend money on things that would appall you 😊. I rely upon and enjoy the computer so I surely applaud hardware/software inventors. I also applaud the invention and development of cameras as well as the ability to travel great distances in a short time in airplanes.

Sometimes one's priorities exclude spending on certain consumer items (liking good food means not using a microwave to cook and not caring for the programming on TV means not paying for TV service). In the choice between buying ground coffee from the store and roasting and grinding coffee beans, I opt for the latter because the taste of coffee is more important than convenience; others make the other choice. It isn't necessary to share items bought in a store--IMO we have more valuable things to share.

I guess that, in the end, we all straddle the old ways and the new.
 

Pete Longstreet

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The interest we hold for a different time period and those that have come before us really does make us wonder what our lives might have been like if we had been alive during that time. I too have always loved history, especially the Civil War. The strength and bravery showed on both sides is very commendable.
This is true. It makes me think how easy we have it, compared to those who lived during that time period. Not saying people today don't fall on hard times... but hard times back then must have been brutal.
 

FedericoFCavada

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I think this question comes up every now and then, and I'm almost sure I've answered before...

For me, a qualified "yes." It would really all depend on one's occupation. If I could be a merchant seafarer, particularly aboard a Yankee clipper, then emphatically yes. A colorful gentleman raconteur of leisure and bon-vivant? Decidedly yes. If condemned to the professions of my actual lineal ancestors, coal miners, peasant farmers in places with short growing seasons, soldier-settlers, hard scrabble settler farmers, proletarian factory workers... Probably not. Locale would be another big variable.

Far better to be in the "good old days were terrible" 19th century than, say, the early modern era or the Middle Ages, no?
 

Fairfield

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"It depends"... :D
He has made a good point. My husband was a mediaevalist and I've plowed through his books: better to have been a peasant farmer in the 19th century than a king in the Middle Ages--at least as far as "creature comforts". What is the great benefit of living in a castle if the only thing between you and the North Pole is a tapestry? What is the benefit of living in a glittering court when few there took baths more than once a year? Monarchs in the Middle Ages could trust very few but who's going to cut down a poor farmer to seize his crop? . What was the reward for trying to help one's ill neighbors with healthy broths and treatments but being burned at the stake? Etc., etc.
 

Kurt G

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Another issue would be access to books and decent libraries . Everyone on this site has an interest in at least one and probably many historical time periods . If you wanted to study the American Revolution for example , you may have a long way to travel to find a good library . I'm guessing the books available would also have been a lot less scholarly .
 

Pat Answer

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He has made a good point. My husband was a mediaevalist and I've plowed through his books: better to have been a peasant farmer in the 19th century than a king in the Middle Ages--at least as far as "creature comforts". What is the great benefit of living in a castle if the only thing between you and the North Pole is a tapestry? What is the benefit of living in a glittering court when few there took baths more than once a year? Monarchs in the Middle Ages could trust very few but who's going to cut down a poor farmer to seize his crop? . What was the reward for trying to help one's ill neighbors with healthy broths and treatments but being burned at the stake? Etc., etc.

And in many respects being a Roman nobleman before the bloodiest of the late Republic civil wars seems to have been better than being a 19th century peasant or a Middle Ages king. (And the time referred to in Western history as the "Middle Ages" saw some relatively great times for some rulers outside Europe.) So it does always depend on what the specific trade-offs are, which is basically what @FedericoFCavada and many others here have said if not in so many words.

Questions like these are great thought experiments. But at the end of the day, would "I" like to live in another time and place? is not something "I", a product of this time and place, can honestly answer.

The genie (closer to the mythological Trickster than the fairy godparent who has your best interests at heart) gives you a choice:
(a) go back to whatever point in your life you want and try again - without your current accumulated knowledge or
(b) take your current accumulated knowledge back to a different life
Meaning what you really want to do, go back and fix your mistakes, is impossible either way. You don't know how or if the knowledge you "now" have even applies to your "new" situation. Which would you choose?
 

Fairfield

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And in many respects being a Roman nobleman before the bloodiest of the late Republic civil wars seems to have been better than being a 19th century peasant or a Middle Ages king. (And the time referred to in Western history as the "Middle Ages" saw some relatively great times for some rulers outside Europe.) So it does always depend on what the specific trade-offs are, which is basically what @FedericoFCavada and many others here have said if not in so many words.

Questions like these are great thought experiments. But at the end of the day, would "I" like to live in another time and place? is not something "I", a product of this time and place, cannot honestly answer.

The genie (closer to the mythological Trickster than the fairy godparent who has your best interests at heart) gives you a choice:
(a) go back to whatever point in your life you want and try again - without your current accumulated knowledge or
(b) take your current accumulated knowledge back to a different life
Meaning what you really want to do, go back and fix your mistakes, is impossible either way. You don't know how or if the knowledge you "now" have even applies to your "new" situation. Which would you choose?
Yes, of course: there are trade-offs and it's a matter of priorities. But I'd not have wanted to live in Rome at any time, with any status.
As to your options, I'd choose (c) none of the above. This is because each mistake was, itself, an option; there is no knowing that the other choice might not have had an even worse ending. Mistakes often are learning points (unless one keeps making the same mistake over and over) and, who's to say, might actually have been a beneficial event.
 

David Knight

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Now if I had lived 600 - 400 years ago I could have lived in this small pad about half a mile from my modern house.
Pontefract Castle.jpeg
 

Pat Answer

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Yes, of course: there are trade-offs and it's a matter of priorities. But I'd not have wanted to live in Rome at any time, with any status.
As to your options, I'd choose (c) none of the above. This is because each mistake was, itself, an option; there is no knowing that the other choice might not have had an even worse ending. Mistakes often are learning points (unless one keeps making the same mistake over and over) and, who's to say, might actually have been a beneficial event.

I agree. Of course (c) is the correct choice :D and, yes, Rome was also a smelly and violent place (kudos to HBO for making that clear...) among smelly and violent places all over the world.
That is my point - we're not always conscious of the thousands of ways our current lives have shaped everything about who "we" are today.

Now if I had lived 600 - 400 years ago I could have lived in this small pad about half a mile from my modern house.View attachment 416078

LOL! But as the noble? the page? the livery stable boy?...
 

David Knight

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I agree. Of course (c) is the correct choice :D and, yes, Rome was also a smelly and violent place (kudos to HBO for making that clear...) among smelly and violent places all over the world.
That is my point - we're not always conscious of the thousands of ways our current lives have shaped everything about who "we" are today.



LOL! But as the noble? the page? the livery stable boy?...
Pontefract Castle belonged to the crown so the King / Queen rarely visited so I would be the Constable with lots of flunkies to do my bidding.
 
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