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12 Lost Skills the Founders Knew That America Needs Now

July 05, 2024 0 Comments

An old outdoor table with hardware and survival tools spread across it.

Our lives are much easier today than when our forefathers fought for independence.

While they strived to be independent and self-reliant, many Americans today increasingly rely on technology.

Each new generation becomes a little less independent and a little more dependent on tools that won’t help them much if the grid goes down.

Consider these alarming survey results from a 2017 poll:

  • More than half of young adults were unable to tie a single knot, and 40% had never swum in open water.
  • Researchers also found that most people under 44 preferred to use Google Maps to get around.
  • Just a third of the 2,000 surveyed knew how to spark a flame by natural means, with less than a third having caught their own fish or seafood.
  • Those born before 1950 were also three times more likely to be able to tie a sheepshank knot compared with those born in the 1990s.
  • And 44% percent had never actually been camping.

Keep in mind that these results are from a poll taken several years ago. And since then, it’s safe to say even more Americans are less independent.

Should our children or grandchildren experience a wilderness emergency or natural disaster, they may not know how to survive as they haven’t been taught survival skills.

Read on to learn about the lost skills our Founding Fathers knew that Americans lack today.

#1 Trap, Hunt, and Fish 

A man standing in a river and fishing.

We can go to the grocery store or a restaurant for sustenance.

But our Founding Fathers had no such amenities.

They had to rely on their trapping, hunting, and fishing skills to feed themselves and their families.

Mount Vernon reports:

Keeping exact score one day as a young surveyor, George Washington scribbled in his diary that he shot at wild turkeys and ‘missed twice,’ adding the next day that he ‘killed two’ wild turkeys. Each man in his survey party cooked his take on spits, eating from wood chips for plates.

#2 Grow Your Own Food

One of the best ways to gain independence is to learn to grow your own food. 

Even Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, recognized this truth. He said:

There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry.

Many Founding Fathers loved gardening and looked for opportunities to improve agriculture in America.

Historian Andrea Wulf claims, “All of [the Founding Fathers] letters mention trees, plows, forests, seeds, and other planting references, all experimented with crop rotation, manure, and other farming methods, and all used nature in one way or another in their fight for this country."

If you haven’t started growing your own food, now is the time to invest in seeds and get busy.

#3 Preserve and Store Food

Our Founding Fathers didn’t have refrigerators and freezers like we do today, but they still needed to store food to make it through different seasons.

As a result, they learned various methods for preserving and storing food, such as canning and dehydration.

Make it a goal to learn food preservation techniques. 

Stock up on long-term emergency food, which is already designed for long-term storage, while you're at it.

#4 Find Water

When the unexpected unfolds, would you know how to find water?

Most of us are reliant on tap water, which is provided by the municipal water supply.

But if the grid goes down or a natural disaster hits, the water may be unsafe to drink.

Our Founding Fathers knew how to find water, such as following the signs of vegetation and digging in those areas.

[Related Read: 13 Unique Places to Find Water for Survival]

#5 Use Herbal Medicine

While we are thankful for modern medicine, some of us are a little too dependent on over-the-counter medications and doctors.

There may come a time when you cannot access a hospital or drugstore.

Would you know how to treat sickness like our forefathers did?

They relied on herbal medicines, such as feverfew for relieving fevers and southernwood for upset stomachs.

Learn the way of the land, and let the land help you.

#6 Start and Maintain a Fire

A father and son dressed in outdoor gear, blowing on a fire to help the flames grow.

Fire starting is one of the skills today’s young people lack.

Gone are the days when young people were taught how to start and maintain a campfire on their own.

And yet, this is one of the most essential survival skills one can have. Do you know how to start a fire?

[Related Read: The 8 Types of Fires Every Survivalist Needs to Know How to Build]

#7 Forage

Most Americans do not know how to forage for food, whether because they are fearful of eating something poisonous or simply just unmotivated.

However, our Founding Fathers used foraging to their advantage, such as foraging for honey to use as a sweetener. And knowing which berries were edible.

#8 Build Shelter

My son had to build a temporary shelter in the wilderness to earn a badge in Boy Scouts. He built a lean-to using fallen tree limbs and branches.

This isn’t something many young people get the opportunity to do today.

Our Founding Fathers went even further than building lean-tos. 

They knew how to build homes using logs and mud, and they even set up encampments with earthen kitchens during the Revolutionary War.

Shelter is among your top priorities for survival. You'd better learn how to put up your own, just in case.

#9 Cook over Fire

Today, we can quickly get the food we want when we want it.

I remember people being shocked by how quickly they could warm up frozen dinners in microwaves.

Now, we’ve got people ordering food from GrubHub and Uber Eats, then getting it delivered within an hour.

Why learn to cook when you can get food delivered?

Now imagine what these delivery-dependent people will do during a disaster when gasoline and power aren’t available...

Will they know how to cook food for themselves over an open fire? Only if someone has shown them how.

[Related Read: Cook with Cast Iron like the Settlers]

#10 Read a Map

A man with outdoor gear and a heavy-duty backpack holding and reading a map.

George Washington was a land surveyor and relied heavily on maps.

Today, many Americans rely solely on GPS and Google Maps. They wouldn’t even know how to read a real, paper map.

Meanwhile, Washington famously used maps to help defeat the British. 

According to George Washington's America: a Biography through His Maps, “Many of our first president's decisions during his long career as a surveyor, soldier, and statesman were made only after careful readings of the existing cartographical materials.

#11 Predict the Weather

Meteorologists only get it right about half the time, yet many Americans are reliant on their weather predictions.

This hasn’t always been the case.

Our Founding Fathers knew how to pay careful attention to the skies and weather patterns to predict upcoming weather.

This can really save you when you're setting up camp, hiking to your next hideout, or foraging for food.

#12 Tell Time 

Some of the Founding Fathers had watches to tell time.

However, telling time by sun or sundial was standard practice.

Today, many students can’t tell time using an analog clock, let alone the sun...

If your skills could be better, now is the time to start learning, friends. 

 

In liberty,

Elizabeth Anderson

Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply


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