On a cold and snowy 21st of December in 1808, about two in the afternoon, there alighted at the door of the old tavern in Green Street, Albany, then kept by Whitmore, a dark complexioned but elegant stranger, evidently of southern origin. He stepped to the hall of that ancient house of entertainment, and while shaking from a richly furred mantle, the snow which had profusely fallen that day; he desired the ostler to dismantle his remarkably elegant horse of its riding caparisons and to convey the horse to the warmest stall the stables afforded; when himself hastened to the ample bar-room of that well ordered establishment.
Once inside, the stranger asked the keeper of the inn, whether it was agreeable to entertain him a few days. On further acquaintance, the genteel stranger proved a gentleman of the first order, prepossessing in his manners, agreeable and diffuse in conversation, as he was extremely well informed in the lore of literature, as well of any and all parts of the globe, the governments of the different nations, the workings of universal politics and the balance of power between the different nations of Christendom. Continue reading
Perhaps you have never heard of Katherine Lawes. Katherine was the wife of Lewis Lawes, warden at Sing Sing Prison from 1920-1941.
Sing Sing had the reputation of destroying wardens. The average warden’s tenure before Lewis Lawes was two years. “The easiest way to get out of Sing Sing,” he once quipped, “is to go in as warden.” In his 21 years he instituted numerous reforms – and an important part of his success was due to his wife Katherine. Continue reading
For a few hours on the night of October 7, 1862 in the village of Binghamton, N.Y., law and order vaporized when a mob of white men attacked black residents, their homes, and their churches. The trigger for this race riot was an interracial fight at the circus in town. According to the Broome Republican, the rioters’ expressed goal was to “clean the negroes out.”
Right after the circus performances ended, “all the colored persons present” were attacked. Many suffered bloody injuries at the hands – and stones and clubs – of 20 to 30 rioters. There was no organized resistance as the victims fled for safety. In addition, there were no arrests, or police presence or response. Continue reading
In 1899, William Osborne Dapping was a Harvard-bound nineteen-year-old when he began writing down exploits from his rough childhood in the immigrant slums of New York City.
Now published for the first time, The Muckers: A Narrative of the Crapshooters Club (Syracuse University Press, 2016) recovers a long-lost fictionalized account of Dapping’s life in a gang of rowdy boys. Simultaneously a polished work of social reform literature and a rejoinder to the era’s alarming exposés of the “dangerous classes,” The Muckers stands as an important reform era primary document. Continue reading
Daniel Czitrom’s new book New York Exposed: The Gilded Age Police Scandal that Launched the Progressive Era (Oxford University Press, 2016) offers a narrative history of the Lexow Committee, which the author considers the first major crusade to clean up Gotham.
Czitrom tells this story within the larger contexts of national politics, poverty, patronage, vote fraud and vote suppression, and police violence. The effort to root out corrupt cops and crooked politicians morphed into something much more profound: a public reckoning over what New York had become since the Civil War. Continue reading
As a result of their efforts and accomplishments with the Walk Forever Free campaign, five Arlington High School students and teachers in Arlington, Nebraska will receive the 2016 Frederick Douglass Human Rights Award from Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI).
Tierra Krivohlavek, Tamisha Krivohlavek, Austin Harms, Ambers Sims and Barry Jurgensen, the five award winners, were all instrumental in the Walk Forever Free campaign as were other students, teachers, administrators and citizens along the way. The award was presented by Robert J. Benz, Co-Founder and Executive Vice President and Co-Founder of FDFI and its President and Co-Founder, Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., on November 16th at an Arlington High School assembly. Continue reading
On Friday, October 28 and Saturday, October 29, Historic Cherry Hill will present a dramatic tour reenacting the infamous 1827 murder that occurred at the Cherry Hill mansion.
The public is invited to relive the experiences of those who were at Cherry Hill on the evening of May 7, 1827, when a farmhand murdered a member of the household. The tour will investigate the scene of the crime and the differing perspectives of those who witnessed the events of that fateful night. Actor James Keil will appear as murderer Jesse Strang, bringing to life his violent act, and divulging his motives, including a romantic attachment to his victim’s wife. The murder resulted in two sensational trials and Albany’s last public hanging. Continue reading
The Cayuga Museum will host a new film and guided discussion series titled “Exploring the Prison through Film: A Journey with Dr. Lucien Lombardo.” The series will show four films, each exploring a different theme within the context of imprisonment. Each film will be screened and then followed with a conversation guided by Dr. Lucien Lombardo, who will place the themes of the film in context in penal history.
The series begins on Tuesday, October 18 at 6 pm with the 1932 film “20,000 Years in Sing Sing,” starring Spencer Tracy and Bette Davis. Exploring the theme of managing a prison, this film was loosely based on an influential book by Lewis Lawes, Warden of Sing Sing. Scenes from the movie were filmed at Sing Sing, using real prisoners as extras. Continue reading
This week on “The Historians” podcast, Tara Hime Norman discusses her book The Vindication of Lewis M. Roach (Dorrance, 2016) Norman makes the case that a Montgomery County trial convicted the wrong man in a sensational 1913 murder inside a rural farmhouse.
Listen to the podcast here. Continue reading
Pirates are alive and well in our popular culture. Thanks to movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and television shows like Black Sails, we see pirates as peg-legged, eye-patch wearing, rum-drinking men.
But are these representations accurate? What do we really know about pirates?
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Mark Hanna, an Associate Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego, and author of the award-winning book Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740, (UNC Press, 2015) helps us fill in the gaps in our knowledge to better understand who pirates were and why they lived the pirate’s life. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/099