In one of those gentle ironies of life, Peter Feinman’s recent NY History Blog column, “Should the History Community Lobby?”, was positioned on the page next to a sidebar of recent history-related news stories which included the headline: “More than $200 million spent on NYS lobbying, report finds.”
As a professional lobbyist, and amateur historian, my response to Mr. Feinman’s question is a decided “Yes!” But that’s pretty much the kind of answer one would expect from someone in my profession. It’s the juxtaposition of his column with another story, confirming the magnitude of the role lobbying plays in New York, which is so telling.
But saying we should be lobbying is a lot like proclaiming “We should have more prosperity.” It’s a great idea, but it’s not quite as simple as that. Continue reading
As the second summer of the War of 1812 was drawing to a close, the sea war with Britain that had enjoyed such notable success in its early months, had shifted from the open ocean to the Great Lakes. There were two reasons for this. Stunning victories by USS Constitution over HMS Guerriere, the United States over the Macedonian and Constitution against Java had shocked the British.
The Admiralty’s response to the American frigate victories was to use overwhelming numbers to control the seas. Orders were issued forbidding any more single ship engagements, and the British established blockade squadrons off the coast all the way to New Orleans. The British blockade on America had tightened, with 100 ships on station off the coast.
And, while it was possible for an American ship to run the blockade, especially during foul weather, naval supplies were being diverted to a different theater of war – the Great Lakes. Continue reading
It’s a phrase most of us use, without knowing much more than it connotes an air of struggle.
A desperate struggle is exactly what was taking place when Captain James Lawrence of the USS Chesapeake made those words his final order – 200 years ago today.
The United States had been at war with Britain for nearly a year when Lawrence sailed his frigate out of Boston. Waiting for him outside the harbor was HMS Shannon, whose Captain was disobeying orders by preparing to engage an American ship one on one. Continue reading
“Who was the Vice President under John Quincy Adams? — Daniel D. Tompkins. And I’ll bet your Mr. Sawyer doesn’t know that!”
It’s a line from that classic Christmas movie, “Miracle On Thirty Fourth Street.” In that scene the protagonist, Kris Kringle, tries to demonstrate that not only isn’t he delusional, but is so in touch with reality he can recall trivial facts most people couldn’t possibly remember. Continue reading