Friday, August 16, 2013

Did Surfing Influence the Declaration of Independence?

National Geographic contributing writer, Joel Bourne, recently grilled historian-surfers Peter Westwick and Peter Neushul on the more notable moments in surfing's history.

Westwick and Neushuls new book, The World in a Curl: An Unconventional History of Surfing details previously little known facts about the sports history and present, such as the "political, economical and environmental consequences...(and it's) evolution from a sport of Hawaiian kings and queens, to a billion-dollar, worldwide industry."

Bourne's interview with the Peters, touches on some of the more interesting highlights of the book.  For instance, did you know that early accounts of surfing may have influence Thomas Jefferson to include the 'pursuit of happiness' phrase in the Declaration of Independence?

Westrick told Bourne:

"Both the French and American revolutions occurred as these incredible literary images were coming back from explorers in the tropical Pacific. The surfer on a tropical wave is the very antithesis of what we were doing in Europe, which was perfecting the guillotine and better ways to kill each other.
If you are sitting in Europe or colonial America reading these travelers' accounts coming back from the South Pacific who are describing "the most supreme pleasure," it really might give you pause. It might make you think, 'Wow, these surfers have it right.'"
The book also touches on some of surfing's shadier roots.  When asked about the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a 1960's surf gang, Westrick said, 
Surfers not only reflected the '60s, they also actually helped create the '60s because they were the ones driving this tremendous supply of drugs. This image of surfers as a bunch of longhairs on the beach who can't get their act together may have helped them get away with it.
When you read federal task force reports on the menace of drug smuggling, the feds refused to believe these hippie surfers could possibly pull off something this complex and this organized. It was a major global network that these guys were running out of Laguna. They brought in millions of LSD doses, among other things.
You can read the entire interview on National Geographic and purchase the book here.