Tag Archives: American Revolution

The American Revolution: Perpetual Rebirth


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home_revolutionI would like to address some questions raised about my critique of the American Revolution Reborn conference.

I’d like to begin with Tara Lyons, of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. I have two conference handouts from her entitled “Museum Introduction for Refugee Students.” Under the objectives for the program is listed: Explain how this museum might help them learn about their new home.  She then turns to the task of how to achieve this objective:

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Peter Feinman: Scholars in the Public Mind


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home_revolutionThanks are due to Mike Zuckerman for his response to my series on the American Revolution Reborn conference which he organized. I appreciate his having read an unsolicited essay from a stranger whom he just met, for our extended email exchange, and for his contributing a post to New York History on this topic.

If I may, I would like to respond to his comments by separating them into two types: those that addressed the conference itself and those that refer to the more general question of America’s identity. Continue reading

Rehabilitated Mount Beacon Fire Tower Re-Opens


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Beacon Fire Tower Before RenovationWhat follows is a guest essay by William Keating about the opening of the rehabilitated Mount Beacon Fire Tower in June.

The colonials used the 1,400 foot north peak of Mount Beacon along the Hudson River during the Revolutionary War to set warning fires to alert General Washington at his headquarters on the western side of the river of any British presence in the valley below.  From this activity, the City of Beacon got its name.  Continue reading

American Revolution Reborn:
Michael Zuckerman on American Exceptionalism


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home_revolutionI am grateful for Peter Feinman’s kind words about the conference I helped to organize, The American Revolution Reborn.  I am even more grateful for his unkind words.

Peter’s complaints and criticisms hit home.  He is right that elite academic historians embarrass themselves when confronted with questions like the one that one entire conference panel dodged: was the American Revolution a good thing or a bad thing?  He is right that many academic historians, and not just those at elite institutions, are reluctant to engage the conundrums that come of asking what part great men play in momentous developments and whether the leadership of one such man, George Washington, was indispensable to the winning of American independence?  And he is right, profoundly right, that ivory-tower educators never quite get around to the dilemma that ought to haunt all educators: how do we teach what we know to the young? Continue reading

The American Revolution Reborn:
New Perspectives for the Twenty-First Century


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home_revolutionAs July 4 nears, the issues raised at the conference seem particularly appropriate for us both as Americans and New Yorkers with many historic sites related to that war.

The American Revolution Reborn: New Perspectives for the Twenty-First Century conference was held on May 30 to June 1, 2013, at the American Philosophical Society very near the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. This free event originated by and was made possible through the generosity of Frank Fox operating through the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. The McNeil Center, the Library Company of Philadelphia and the future Museum of the American Revolution hosted receptions as part of the conference. Continue reading

Schuylerville to Fort Edward History Bicycle Tour


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canalridersOn Sunday August 11, enjoy a 28-mile guided bicycle tour along the Champlain Canalway Trail between Hudson Crossing Park in Northumberland and Fort Edward.

This tour will take bikers past historic sites of interest related to the Revolutionary War and the Champlain Canal. Learn about Rogers Rangers, Jane McCrea, the route that General John Burgoyne’s army took on the way to the Battles of Saratoga and the development of the Champlain Canal. Continue reading

Crown Point Donation Attempt To Correct Historical Record


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IMG_4901While touring the museum at Crown Point State Historic Site in May, a group of members of the Daughters of the American Revolution from New York’s mid-Hudson Valley visited historic Crown Point on Lake Champlain.

They came to see the point from which Hudson Valley troops, commanded by Generals Richard Montgomery and Philip Schuyler, departed to invade British Canada, and found an opportunity to serve history by funding a bronze marker at the starting point of the so-called Knox Artillery Trail, but not at Ticonderoga – at Crown Point. Continue reading

Preservation Failures: The Hardenbergh House


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Both photos appear courtesy of HABS/HAER-LOCMy previous post about Weigand’s Tavern was written about an historic structure, one of the oldest in Newburgh, which was in peril. Sadly, it is but one instance of many; there are too many cases in other parts of Ulster and Orange counties.

Another example is the Johannes G. Hardenbergh house, which was introduced to me by a fellow firefighter who explored its remains as a young child. This post will be about what happens when a local community does not, or can not, move fast enough to save a piece of history in time. Continue reading

Guided History Tour Across Lake Champlain Bridge Planned


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Crown Point Bridge 2If you’ve wanted to learn more about what you see as you walk or drive over the new Lake Champlain Bridge, join the managers of the Chimney Point, VT, and Crown Point, NY, State Historic Sites for a guided walk on Sunday, July 28, 2013, at 1:00 p.m. Tom Hughes and Elsa Gilbertson will leaders a walk across and back on the bridge, and will discuss the 9,000 years of human history at this important location on Lake Champlain.

At this narrow passage on Lake Champlain humans have crossed here, as well as traveled north and south on the lake since glacial waters receded over 9,000 years ago. The channel with its peninsulas, or points, on each side made this one of the most strategic spots on Lake Champlain for the Native Americans, and French, British, and early Americans in the 17th and 18th centuries. Continue reading

First-Person Living History at Knox’s Headquarters


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image004General Washington knew exactly what he was about, in the summer of 1781, by trying to convince the British and his own soldiers that he would attack New York City. Unbeknownst to all, but trusted officials, he had agreed to move with the French Army south to Virginia. In Virginia, a French naval force from the Caribbean would join them to complete the encirclement of the British Army at Yorktown. Continue reading

Preservation Failures: Newburgh’s Weigand Tavern


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Weigand's_Tavern-AuthorOne of the saddest stories I have ever tracked in the newspapers is the Martin Weigand Tavern in the City of Newburgh. It is the story of a property allowed to deteriorate to a point where today it is almost beyond repair.

Located on Liberty Street, it is a relic of the American Revolution where many Revolutionary notables spent time. The tavern was also the center of political life in early Newburgh. It stands today at the Northwest corner of the Old Town Cemetery as it has for over two centuries. Continue reading

American Revolution Reborn: Missing New York


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home_revolutionEditor’s note: This is the third post on the American Revolution Reborn Conference. You can read the complete series here.

The conference also was important for the themes it didn’t include as was brought out in some of the questions and comments.

An area of significant omission was one with particular significance for New York State:  military history. One attendee from Boston sitting in the front row just in front of me privately expressed his keen disappointment at its absence from conference. Continue reading

American Revolution Reborn: America Renewed


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home_revolutionEditor’s note: This is the fifth and final post on the American Revolution Reborn Conference. You can read the complete series here.

Conference organizer Zuckerman asked how does one enlist loyalty voluntarily especially if people are not supportive (disaffected). He wondered about nation building and civics in such an environment. We are a story telling species. Gordon-Reed, Harvard University, said people want a narrative, that the story is what people respond to. Anishanslin, CUNY Staten Island, observed that Americans learn about the Revolution from historic sites, that monuments shape public memory. She objected to the cleansing of the story and called for the Iroquois story to be told. Continue reading

Western VT’s Historic Sites Opening For Season


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Crown Point Bridge (John Warren Photo)The Memorial Day weekend brings the start of the 2013 season at the Chimney Point, Mount Independence, and Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Sites. The sites open this Saturday, May 25, at 9:30 a.m.

The Chimney Point State Historic Site on Lake Champlain in Addison commands one of the most strategic locations on the Lake, of importance to human beings for over 9,000 years. The site presents the Native American, early French, and early American settlement of the area. The special exhibit is What Lies Beneath: 9,000 Years of History at Chimney Point, highlighting the archaeological findings from the 2009-2011 bridge and temporary ferry project—including the likely location of the “chimney” that gave Chimney Point its name in 1759. Continue reading

Historian Russell Shorto Events In Albany Friday


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Russell Shorto Jennifer MayRussell Shorto, bestselling historian of the Dutch colonial experience in America, will give a preview of his new book (to be published this coming October), Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City, Friday, May 3, 2013 at 7 p.m. in the Clark Auditorium, New York State Museum, Cultural Education Center, Madison Avenue in downtown Albany.

Earlier that same day at 3:15 p.m., the author will deliver the Fossieck Lecture of the UAlbany History Department, “The Dutch Influence on American Colonial History,” in the Assembly Hall, Campus Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Continue reading

Place-Based Education and the New Windsor Cantonment


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New Windsor CantonmentRecently, I was appointed a THVIP with Teaching the Hudson Valley. The role of a THVIP is to “find new and better ways to help reach Hudson Valley children and young people with place-based education,” both in and out of the classroom.

I’ve been thinking about some of the great historical sites around Orange and Ulster counties. A personal favorite, and not just because I once worked there, is the New Windsor Cantonment. Continue reading

The Immigrant Thomas Cole and NY State Tourism


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View of Fort Putnam (Thomas Cole)Thomas Cole (1801-1848) , English immigrant, is regarded as a father of the Hudson River School, the first national art expression of the American identity in the post-War of 1812 period. It was a time when we no longer had to look over our shoulder at what England was doing and could begin to think of ourselves as having a manifest destiny. Cole also was very much part of the birth of tourism which occurred in the Hudson Valley and points north and west. Continue reading

Elijah Hunter: Revolutionary War Spy


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first baptist church ossiningSpying was a major component of the strategy and the tactics of the American Revolution. However it’s only recently that historians have focused on the intrigues, subterfuges and skullduggery that were used by all sides. Except for the spying of British Major John Andre, his collaboration with Benedict Arnold, and of the failed spying of Nathan Hale, undercover intelligence gathering operations during the Revolution is a mostly forgotten aspect of that conflict.

Nonetheless, spying was quite common in that era and George Washington was its chief proponent.  Washington made full use of the 1700s tools of the spy trade including invisible ink, hiding messages in feather quills, and small silver balls for hiding messages that could be swallowed in the event of capture. He also encouraged forging documents and making sure they fell into British hands. Continue reading