The Founding Pets: How animals shaped America's history

July 4, 2012

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Most Americans know the major stories that have shaped our history. But few realize that many of these moments involved underappreciated animals.

"Behind most historical figures at key points in American history are the animals that planted the ideas that changed our society forever," explains comedian Steve Waltien. At The Paper Machete's special All-American show, Waltien and associate Katie Rich embodied, among others, Declaration of Independence scribe Thomas Jefferson and his little-known pet cat Brown Sugar. Read an excerpt below or listen below:

Steve: Good afternoon. Katie and I are actors in Chicago and we've come here to do what we do best.

Katie: Pay tribute to American history. Look at my earrings!

Steve: We like to think of ourselves as actors slash educators, or act-ORs.

Katie: And it's our duty to look into American history and shine a light into areas that the white male patriarchical society tends to overlook.

Steve: Yes, act-ORs are able to overlook what historical texts cannot. We are able to bring to life on the stage historical figures at important turning points. What really happened and who were the major players in history.

Katie: The history books are only written by those who can write! And time and time again, those who cannot write are left out of the conventional narrative.

Steve: Animals.

Katie: Just because animals cannot write does not mean they do not have rights.

Steve: Good one.

Katie: Thank you. I'm an act-OR.

The Paper Machete is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It's always at 3 p.m., it's always on Saturday, and it's always free. Get all your The Paper Machete Radio Magazine needs filled here, or download the podcast from iTunes here.