Tag Archives: John Brown

Slavery And The New York State History Community


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DSCN5667Slavery and New York State have a long history together. Indeed, the history of slavery in New York predates the birth of New York as an English and originates in the days of New Netherland, part of the extensive international slave trade.

As we are regularly reminded by events today, slavery has not disappeared. The current issue of Time includes an article on the worldwide continuance of slavery today, especially targeting young women and girls.

What does this have to do with New York history today? Continue reading

John Brown Day: Local Connections To Slavery


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JB Day 2014[4]Launching John Brown Day 2014, students from high schools across the Adirondacks will attend special screenings of 12 Years a Slave, the Academy award-winning film based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free Black Adirondacker who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the mid-1800s.

Born in Minerva in 1808, Northup lived many of his early years in the region, married and made a home with his wife and their three children in Saratoga Springs. It was there in 1841 where his harrowing entrapment and subsequent enslavement on a Louisiana cotton plantation began.

Eighteen years later in October 1859 John Brown’s raid on the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, lit the spark that ignited the war that ended the chattel slavery that Northup and millions of other people of African descent endured in the United States. Continue reading

Celebrate Black History Month in New York State


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museum_03_lgNew York State offers a special window into African American history and American culture. It was a center for 19th century anti-slavery organizations, and home to Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and many other Abolitionist and Underground Railroad leaders.

Nevertheless, anti-black discrimination remained an issue well into the 20th century, and the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) actually has its roots in the Niagara Movement, whose first meeting in 1905 took place on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls because members were turned away from hotels on the U.S. side. Continue reading

Photo Research and Editing: The John Brown Photos


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It was long past the eleventh hour of my publication timetable and I still needed to get one last image to illustrate the article “‘No Mortal Eye Can Penetrate': Louis Ransom’s Commemoration of John Brown” which would be appearing in our Autumn issue. I turned to the Library of Congress’s website, found and saved the file along with the metadata in order to be able to cite it correctly, and sent the last of the material to our designer.

Six short weeks later, the Autumn 2012 issue of The Hudson River Valley Review was out to great acclaim, and just a few even shorter days after that I received my first correction. It was about that image, and it was from Jean Libby, who had been cited in the article as the curator and author of the John Brown Photo Chronology. It was clear that I had gotten something wrong. Continue reading

Marking John Brown’s Struggle For Human Rights


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One hundred and fifty-three years ago this week John Brown led an anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, part of the radical movement of tens of thousands of Americans struggling to undermine the institution of slavery in America before the Civil War.

It’s often said that just one thing secured Brown’s place in the hearts of millions of Americans – his execution and martyrdom. But there is another more important reason to celebrate the life of John Brown – his courage in standing against unjust state and federal laws, the press, and popular culture in the cause of basic human rights. Continue reading

New John Brown Portrait Unveiling, Education Event Set


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John Brown Lives! and North Country Community College have announced that Maine artist Robert Shetterly will be present for the unveiling of his portrait of abolitionist John Brown during Freedom Now, Freedom Then: The Long History of Emancipation, a two-day program designed for students, educators and the general public on November 30-December 1, 2012. The events will take place in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, New York.

Brown is one of the newest additions to the Americans Who Tell the Truth project that Shetterly began 10 years ago using portraits of contemporary and historical figures and their own words to offer a “link between a community of people who struggled for justice in our past and a community of people who are doing it now.”

With this portrait, Brown joins Shetterly’s pantheon of more than 180 Truth Tellers that includes Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth and Mark Twain from the nation’s past, and Bill McKibben, James Baldwin, Michelle Alexander, and Jonathan Kozol who are addressing some of humanity’s gravest concerns today.

Shetterly’s portraits have been exhibited across the country. His painting of Brown will be unveiled on Friday 30 November at North Country Community College, Saranac Lake campus, at the opening program of “Freedom Now, Freedom Then: The Long History of Emancipation”. Several other Shetterly paintings will also be exhibited at the college and at the other venues where events will be taking place.

Geared for area high school and college students, their teachers and professors, the Friday program of “Freedom Now, Freedom Then” will also feature independent scholar Amy Godine and Kenneth Morris, Jr., the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass.

Godine will talk about young men and women with North Country roots who have heeded the call for human freedman, including slain civil rights worker Andrew Goodman and criminal justice reformer Alice Green. A poster including Goodman, Green and four other civil rights champions done by Lake Placid artist Nip Rogers will also be on display.

Following in his forebear’s footsteps, Morris will talk with students about slavery in Douglass’ time and today, when more people are trafficked and held in slavery than at any other time in human history. Twenty-seven million people are enslaved in nearly every country on Earth, including the United States where State Department estimates that 15,000 women, men and children are trafficked each year. Morris will also discuss service-learning opportunities for students to join the 21st century abolitionist movement to end slavery once and for all.

Glory, the Edward Zwick film starring Denzel Washington and Matthew Broderick, will be shown on Friday night (venue to be determined). Civil War Memory blogger Kevin Levin will lead a discussion immediately following the screening.

A cornerstone of John Brown Lives!’ work is to provide teachers in and outside of the classroom with high-caliber opportunities to engage with historians, scholars, anti-slavery activists and artists in an intimate setting. Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid will be the venue for a full day of workshops, presentations and conversations on the complex history of emancipation for educators, librarians, and the general public and will feature: Dr. Gloria Marshall-Browne on freedom and the Founding Documents; Dr. Margaret Washington on women and emancipation; Civil War Memory blogger Kevin Levin on film and emancipation; Magpie, the folk duo, on emancipation in song; Artist Robert Shetterly on art to promote courageous citizenship; Kenneth Morris, President of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation, on engaging youth, congregations and communities in emancipation today; and Dr. Franny Nudelman on emancipation our texts and textbooks.

David W. Blight, preeminent scholar on the U.S. Civil War, will give the closing keynote address, “The Historical Memory of the Civil War and Emancipation at 150” on Saturday night in Lake Placid (venue to be determined). Dr. Blight is the Director of the Center for Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University and the author of numerous award-winning books and publications including American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era; A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Narratives of Emancipation; and Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory.

For more information, presenter bios, and a complete schedule of workshops, film and music programs, visit John Brown Lives! on Facebook or contact either Martha Swan, Executive Director John Brown Lives!, or Cammy Sheridan, Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at North Country Community College. Swan may be reached at 518-962-4798 or info@johnbrownlives.org. Sheridan is available at 518-891-2915, ext. 1271 or csheridan@nccc.edu.

John Brown Day Planned for May 5th


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Frederick Douglass’ great-great-great grandson Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., will give the keynote address at the annual John Brown Day celebration to be held on Saturday, May 5, at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid, NY. Morris will talk about the friendship and enduring legacy of Douglass and fellow abolitionist John Brown.

The two men first met in Massachusetts in 1848, a decade after Douglass successfully escaped from slavery on a Maryland plantation and eleven years before Brown’s history-changing raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. By the time they met, Douglass had become one of the most eloquent and sought-after champions of freedom and equal suffrage for women and men, regardless of race.

Founder and President of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation, Morris will also discuss the Foundation’s work today to create a modern Abolitionist Movement in schools all over the country through the vehicle of Service-Learning.

There are an estimated 27 million men, women and children held in some form of slavery in the world today, generating billions of dollars along the supply chain of labor and products that make much of our daily lives possible.

Joining Morris will be Renan Salgado, a Human Trafficking Specialist based in Rochester, who will shed light in his remarks about slavery and trafficking in New York State today. According to the U.S. State Department, there are approximately 17,500 people trafficked into the U.S. each year. Along with California, Texas, and Florida, New York ranks among the states with the greatest incidence of documented slavery in the country.

Young, award-winning orators from the Frederick Douglass Student Club in Rochester will recite from Douglass’ speeches and excerpts from Brown’s letters. The folk quartet The Wannabees and the hip-hop recording artist S.A.I. will also perform.

John Brown Day revives the tradition dating back to the 1930s of making a pilgrimage to remember and honor Brown by laying a wreath at his grave. Over the last 13 years, the grassroots freedom education project John Brown Lives! has worked to keep that tradition alive and relevant.

John Brown Day 2012 is free and open to the public and it is held outdoors. A brief reception will follow in the lower barn at the site. Donations will be appreciated.

For more information, contact Martha Swan, Executive Director of John Brown Lives! at 518-962-4758 or mswan@capital.net.

Visit the John Brown Lives! Friends of Freedom on Facebook.

Peterboro Celebrates Black Heritage


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As Black History month commences, Peterboro, NY (in Madison County) is finalizing plans for 2012 programs that explore and explain the 19th Century history of African-Americans in the hamlet and its significance to the history of our nation.

On January 31st, the anniversary date of the Thirteenth Amendment that abolished slavery, the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum Traveling Abolition Museum exhibit was transported from Case Library at Colgate University to Memorial Library at SUNY Cortland for Black History Month.

The exhibit had been installed at Colgate for Martin Luther King Jr. commemorations at the college. Milton C. Sernett Ph.D. professor emeritus Syracuse University developed the text and visuals for the traveling museum that cover the history of American Abolition from slavery in the Colonial era to the Civil War.

Dr. Sernett, a member of the Cabinet of Freedom for the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) in Peterboro, will also be presenting at SUNY Cortland on the Abolition Crusade in Upstate New York. Robert Djed Snead, a Jermain Wesley Loguen reenactor who performed at Loguen’s NAHOF induction in October 2011, will perform and present Loguen at SUNY Cortland. For the same month The History Center in Ithaca will be hosting the John Brown Lives! Timbuctoo exhibit during Black History Month. Timbuctoo explains Gerrit Smith’s plan to gift 3000 African-American men with 40 acres of land.

The 20th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend June 9 and 10, 2012 will join in the nation’s commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. Military battles were not waged on Peterboro soil, but Peterboro was the center of human rights activities that waged war against slavery, and those activities led to the ignition of the Civil War. Dr. Sernett will present The Terrible Swift Sword: Abolitionists and the Civil War. Also, Alice Keesey Mecoy, will return to NAHOF to share insights into her great, great, grandfather John Brown. NAHOF will exhibit a copy of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation gifted by the New York State library. Lincoln presented his draft of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet on September 22, 1862. The New York State Museum will open an exhibit on September 22, 2012 about the Proclamation which was briefly owned by Gerrit Smith of Peterboro.

Sunday, July 1 at 2 p.m. at the Smithfield Community Center in Peterboro Dr. David Anderson of the Akwaaba Program at Nazareth College will portray Frederick Douglass’ in the delivery of Douglass’ famous Fifth of July speech. Saturday, August 4 the third annual 21st C. Emancipation Day will be held in Peterboro. On Sunday, August 5 Lesley Still Gist will detail the famous Underground Railroad work of William Still and his reunion with his long lost brother Peter Gist who came to Peterboro to seek help from Gerrit Smith. Saturday, August 18 at 7 p.m. Hugh Humphreys will present on the great Cazenovia protest against the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law.

The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum Commemorations October 20, 2012 at Colgate University include the unveiling of Jermain Wesley Loguen’s banner for the Hall of Fame, as well as that of Abby Kelley Foster and George Gavin Ritchie for their risk-laden pursuit of freedom for slaves. Loguen’s afternoon symposium will be presented by Robert Djed Snead, and Snead will also re-enact Loguen during the evening celebrations.

Heritage New York Underground Railroad Trail and National Park Service National Historic Landmark exhibits on the Underground Railroad, abolition, and African-Americans of Peterboro are open from 1 – 5 pm Saturdays and Sundays May – September at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum.

For more information refer to www.sca-peterboro.org, www.AbolitionHoF.org or 315-366-8101 as the season progresses.

Photo: Robert Djed Snead portrays Syracuse Underground Railroad station conductor Jermain Wesley Loguen at Loguen’s October 2011 Induction to the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro.

New Book on John Brown: Midnight Rising


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In his new book Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War, bestselling author Tony Horwitz tells the story of Adirondack abolitionist John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry.

Late on the night of October 16, 1859, Adirondack abolitionist John Brown led 18 well-armed men on a raid of the federal armory and arsenal at Harpers Ferry and sparked a nationwide uprising against slavery. The principal goal of the raid was to free slaves, not attack and hold a Southern state. The plan was simple: capture about 100,000 muskets and rifles, ammunition, and other supplies from the lightly guarded federal facilities at Harpers Ferry, retire to the countryside and carry out nighttime raids to free Southern slaves. The raider’s believed the southern harvest fields would be filled with disgruntled and overworked slaves bringing in the crops, a perfect opportunity to turn them to revolt.

The raid might have succeeded, had Brown not made a serious error in allowing an eastbound Baltimore & Ohio train the raiders had captured to proceed. The conductor alerted the main B & O office that abolitionists were attempting to free the area’s slaves. The word was immediately taken to B & O president John W. Garrett, who notified US President James Buchanan, Virginia Governor Henry A. Wise, and Major General George H. Stewart of the Maryland Volunteers that a slave insurrection was underway in Harpers Ferry. The worst fear of the southern slaveholders seemed to be at hand.

By about noon Brown’s last chance to escape into the countryside came and went – he was in command of the bridges, and held about 35 prisoners. Armed locals arrived and organized a makeshift attack with their own hunting guns. Then two militia companies arrived from nearby Charles Town – together they stormed the bridges and drove the half dozen or so of Brown’s men guarding them back.

Five raiders were captured alive. Seven initially escaped and five of them made it to ultimate freedom in the north; four later served in the Civil War. Ten men were killed. All but two were buried in a common grave on the Shenandoah River, across from Harpers Ferry. The lest resting place of Jeremiah Anderson remains unknown. Watson Brown’s body was given to Winchester Medical College where it remained until Union troops recovered it during the Civil War and burned the school in reprisal.

Brown was charged with murder, conspiring with slaves to rebel, and treason against Virginia (West Virginia was not yet a state) and after a week-long trial was sentenced to death in early November. He was hanged on December 2nd (John Wilkes Booth sneaked in to watch) and his body was afterward carried to North Elba in Essex County to “moulder in his grave.”

Horwitz is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who has worked for The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker. He also wrote Confederates in the Attic, the outstanding look at the Civil War’s continued legacy in the South. Midnight Rising follows John Brown’s plot from its very inception to the savage battle, and then to its aftermath as it galvanizes the North and pushes the South closer to secession.

New York History founder John Warren wrote about the raid in a series of posts on in 2009.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

John Brown Lives! Concert Promotes Cultural Exchange


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On Wednesday, July 20, 2011, John Brown Lives! (JBL!) is presenting “desert blues” musician, Bombino, live and in concert, at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. for a 7:30 p.m. performance. Omara “Bombino” Moctar is a young Tuareg singer from Niger, Africa, on his first North American tour. He has received advance praise as a “guitar wizard” likened to Jimi Hendrix (KCRW), who plays “some of the most sublime guitar licks you’ll hear in 2011” (NPR).

The concert is an outgrowth of JBL!’s Dreaming of Timbuctoo Exhibition detailing a black settlement effort in the Adirondacks in the mid-1800s. It is also inaugurates the Timbuktu Sahara * Timbuctoo Adirondack Project, a cultural exchange initiative John Brown Lives! is developing to link schoolchildren and communities in the Adirondacks with a Tuareg village on the outskirts of Timbuktu, Mali. A share of proceeds from this concert will benefit the Scarab School in the desert village of Tinghassane.

The Tuareg, often called the “Blue Men of the Desert” by outsiders, are a nomadic people descended from the Berbers of North Africa. In his short life, Bombino, and many Tuareg, have endured drought, rebellion, tyranny, and exile. Fusing traditional rhythms of nomadic peoples of the Sahara and the Sahel with the drive of rock and roll and songs about peace, Bombino plays an influential role today in educating the Tuareg about the importance of the fragile democracy in Niger while maintaining their rich cultural heritage.

John Brown Lives! (JBL) is a freedom education project founded in 1999 to promote social justice through the exploration of issues, social movements and events, rooted mainly in Adirondack history, and their connection to today’s struggles for human rights.

Individual tickets are $18 in advance or $20 at the door. Children under 12 are admitted for $5. Sponsor tickets are also available at $160 for a book of 10 tickets. Tickets are available at the LPCA Box Office 518-523-2512. For sponsor tickets, please call 518-962-4758 or 518-576-9755.

For more general information, contact John Brown Lives! at mswan@capital.net or 518-962-4758. To learn more about Bombino and the Tuareg, check out these links (1, 2).

Climate Justice The Focus of John Brown Day


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Climate Justice will be the focus of this year’s annual John Brown Day on Saturday, May 7, 2011. A tradition dating back to the 1930s, John Brown Day is held each year at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid, to honor one of the nation’s most influential abolitionists on the anniversary of his birth in 1800.

Dedicating his life to eradicating slavery, Brown eventually risked all attacking the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in 1859. Captured by troops led by Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart, Brown’s trial and execution are considered by many historians as a spark that help ignite the Civil War 150 years ago.

Climate Justice is a growing global movement that recognizes that poor and disenfranchised peoples around the world bear the least responsibility for climate change but face a disproportionate burden from its attendant effects, such as compromised health, economic hardship from rising energy costs, and displacement, destruction of property, and death due to extreme natural disasters. Here in the United States, the global campaign for Climate Justice is deeply linked to the Environmental Justice Movement, which is entering its third decade of militant opposition to environmental racism.

John Brown Day keynote speaker and Environmental Justice leader Cecil Corbin-Mark will describe the evolution of the Climate Justice Movement and give voice to the rights and concerns of the people who are usually the first and often the hardest hit by the impacts of global warming.

Corbin-Mark is Deputy Director of the Harlem-based organization, WE-ACT for Environmental Justice. In addition to his work in New York, Corbin-Mark has been active in United Nations and alternative global climate conversations from Copenhagen to Cochabamba to Cancun.
“Like slavery in antebellum America, climate change is one of the most important moral issues of our time,” said Martha Swan, director of the freedom education project John Brown Lives! which organizes the yearly event.

“Brown surely would have recognized that it is the world’s poor who disproportionately bear the brunt of climate change, so it is fitting that Climate Justice will be the focus of John Brown Day 2011. In this Sesquicentennial Year marking the start of the Civil War, we are honored that Cecil will be with us at this critical time.”

Other speakers at the annual event include David Goodman, brother of civil rights activist Andrew Goodman, murdered by the Ku Klux Klan during Mississippi Freedom Summer in
1964, Alice Kesey Mecoy, great-great-great granddaughter of John and Mary Brown, and Brother Yusef Burges. A trustee of the Children & Nature Network and an outdoor educator, Burgess will speak about the power of nature to transform youth. A frequent paddler on Adirondack waterways and former outreach and diversity coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Burgess works to connect Albany-area youth with the natural beauty and environmental issues of the Adirondacks.

John Brown Day 2011 is possible with the cooperation of the John Brown Farm State Historic Site. The event is free and open to the public, and will be held outdoors under a tent.
For more information, contact Martha Swan, Director of John Brown Lives!, at 518-962-4758 or johnbrownlives@westelcom.com.

Wife of Abolitionist John Brown Subject of Performance


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Author-historian Sandra Weber and musician David Hodges will present a dramatic performance of the life of Mary Day Brown, wife of radical abolitionist John Brown.

The Adirondack Museum‘s Cabin Fever Sunday series will return to Saranac Lake, New York on February 27, 2011. “Times of Trouble” with Weber and Hodges will be held at Saranac Village at Will Rogers. The time will be 2:00 p.m. The presentation will offered at no charge to museum members, residents of Saranac Village, and children of elementary school age or younger. The fee for non-members is $5.00.

Dressed in period costume, Weber and Hodges will weave narrative and song to share the little known life of Mary Brown. The poignant piece illustrates the significant role this plain woman played as wife of the radical abolitionist John Brown.

The program will present Mary’s early life and marriage as well as later tragedies involving bankruptcy, accidents, and death. The presentation closes with Mrs. Brown’s most difficult “times of trouble” in the aftermath of the raid on Harper’s Ferry. Sandra Weber has spent ten years researching the life of Mary Day Brown.

Weber is an author, storyteller, and independent scholar with special interest in the Adirondacks, Mary and John Brown, as well as women’s history. Her publishing credits include eight books and numerous articles in periodicals such as Civil War Times, Adirondack Life, Pennsylvania Magazine, and Highlights for Children.

In 2004 and 2005, Sandra Weber toured with folksinger Peggy Lynn performing stories from their book, Breaking Trail: Remarkable Women of the Adirondacks.

David Hodges has played guitar and bass for more than twenty years. He has performed with bands throughout New York, Texas and Pennsylvania and recorded CDs with “Mad Factory” and “Evil Twin.” Hodges currently plays with “Mr. Freeze,” a blues-rock band, and accompanies Sandra Weber in folk music performances.

Anniversary of John Brown’s Execution


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151 years ago this week, John Brown was executed and his body was returned to the Adirondacks. Had Brown escaped from Harpers Ferry rather than been captured he might well today be just a footnote, one of the tens of thousands that struggled to undermine the institution of slavery in America before the Civil War.

It’s often said that just one thing secured Brown’s place in the hearts of millions of Americans that came after him – his execution and martyrdom. There is another equally important reason Americans will celebrate the life of John Brown this week however – he was right slavery would end at a heavy price.

Last year, I wrote a series of posts following the last days of John Brown’s fight to end slavery. You can read the entire series here (start at the bottom).

John Brown Lives! Honors Juneteenth With Event


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June 19th commemorates “Juneteenth”, the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in the United States, and is observed in more than 30 states. It is also known as Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day. Join us in honoring “Juneteenth” with an author reception for Scott Christianson, author of the critically acclaimed book Freeing Charles: The Struggle to Free a Slave on the Eve of the Civil War (University of Illinois Press, 2010).

Scott will speak about the life and dramatic rescue of a captured fugitive slave from Virginia, Charles Nalle, who was liberated by Harriet Tubman and others in Troy, NY in 1860.

Of note, Freeing Charles has been featured in The New York Times Book Review and excerpted in The Wall Street Journal. An award-winning writer, scholar, and human rights activist, Christianson’s interest in American history, particularly slavery, dates back to his boyhood in upstate New York, when he discovered some of his ancestors’ Civil War letters.

This event will be held on The Rooftop Terrace of The Northwoods Inn on Main Street in Lake Placid and is co-sponsored by the Lake Placid Institute for the Arts & Humanities, John Brown Lives! and John Brown Coming Home.

The reception begins at 4:00 pm and is free and open to the public. The Northwoods Inn will open a cash bar during the author reception and offer an optional Adirondack-style BBQ on the terrace for $10 per person (tax and gratuity included) following the event. Freeing Charles will be available for purchase and Christianson will be on hand to sign copies of the book.

This year, June 19th follows on the release of a new U.S. State Department report released yesterday citing – for the first time – that despite the end of slavery, human trafficking is a serious problem in the United States.

Secretary Clinton (June 14, 2010): “The 10th annual Trafficking in Persons Report outlines the continuing challenges across the globe, including in the United States. The Report, for the first time, includes a ranking of the United States based on the same standards to which we hold other countries. The United States takes its first-ever ranking not as a reprieve but as a responsibility to strengthen global efforts against modern slavery, including those within America. This human rights abuse is universal, and no one should claim immunity from its reach or from the responsibility to confront it.”

The full report and announcement can be found online.

This is the first event in a series of anti-slavery conventions sponsored by John Brown Lives! and John Brown Coming Home.

For more information or to make reservations, call 518-962-4758 or 518-523-1312. Also visit http://www.lakeplacidinstitute.org/.

Adirondack History Center Annouces 2010 Schedule


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The Adirondack History Center Museum, located in the old school building at the corner of Route 9N and Hand Avenue in Elizabethtown, Essex County, has announced it’s 2010 Season of events and exhibits.

In addition to the season’s events, the museum displays artifacts from over two centuries of life in Essex County and the central Adirondacks. The diverse collection includes 18th century artifacts, an 1887 Concord stagecoach, an iron bobsled from the 1932 Olympic Games, a 58 foot Fire Observation Tower to climb, a colonial garden patterned after the gardens of Hampton Court, England and Colonial Williamsburg, and more.

The Museum is open 10am – 5pm, 7 days a week from late May through mid-October. The Brewster Library is open all year by appointment only. Admission: Adults $5, Seniors $4, Students $2. Ages 6 and under are free.

The 2010 Schedule includes:

Exhibits

A Sign of the Times May 29- October 31

Curators have mined the museum’s collection, scoured the region, and called upon the citizens of Essex County to gather SIGNS! The exhibit focuses on SIGNS – all things that convey ideas, information, commands, designations or directions. Displayed wall to wall and ceiling to floor this exhibit prompts the viewer to discuss and ponder facts, purposes, qualities, and gestures conveyed by signs.

Swan Furniture June 19 – October 31

This exhibit highlights the Swans and their craftsmanship as important symbols of Westport and Wadhams cultural heritage. The furniture places the Swans into historical context as representatives of our human landscape. A unique blend of pieces provides visitors an opportunity to reflect on the furniture as art objects and artifacts in a museum setting.

ACNA Cover Art Show Sept. 20 – October 31

The 23rd year of the Arts Council for the Northern Adirondacks (ACNA) Cover Art Show featuring local artists. Thirty donated artworks for a Silent Auction are included in the exhibition. The winning Cover Art show piece is to be raffled at “Field, Forest and Stream Day” on September 25th, 2010.

Events

Can History be Reconciled? A Conversation on Compassion & Courage

July 9, 4pm

Whether we’re reading the esoteric histories of others or dealing with our own, some issues are difficult to grasp and process. Don Papson, President of the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association, will engage the audience in a discussion on compassion and courage in light of oppression, slavery and liberation.

Lecture: Captain Brown’s Birthday Party by Amy Godine

July 11, 4 pm

From 1922 into the 1960s, black pilgrims from northern cities joined ranks with white Adirondackers to honor the May 9 birthday of the militant abolitionist John Brown with speeches, concerts, sermons and prayers, earning Lake Placid a reputation as an oasis of interracial tranquility in the age of Jim Crow. How was each group able to find common cause in John Brown? How did each group use the other to promote its own agenda? And whose version of John Brown prevails at his home and gravesite in North Elba, a state-managed historic site since 1897? Join us to hear Historian Amy Godine answer these questions and examine the struggle it both enabled and concealed over John Brown’s public image and the meaning of freedom itself.

Fundraiser: Elizabethtown Historic Slide Show for the Town Hall Stained Glass Window Project

July 18, 4 pm

Back with added photographs and materials, local historian, Margaret Bartley, is offering the Elizabethtown Historic Slide Show for a second year as part of the Elizabethtown Day celebration. Proceeds from this event benefit the restoration of the Elizabethtown Town Hall stained glass windows, a project of Historic Pleasant Valley and the Essex County Historical Society. Any and all donations are welcome.

Museum Benefit: Come as you ART

July 24, 8pm

An evening of dance, delicacies, and expressive dress. Design and create your own clothing. Let your artistic side or a work of art inspire your attire. Music provided by the Chrome Cowboys.

Performance: Bits & Pieces

About a Bridge

Fridays: July 30, Aug 6 & 13, 11am / Sunday August 1, 4pm

This theatrical elegy weaves together voices from the life of the Champlain Bridge.

Lecture: Asanath Nicholson: Adirondack Teacher and World Humanitarian by Maureen Murphy

August 8, 4 pm

Maureen Murphy, Professor of Curriculum and Teaching in the School of Education in Health and Human Services at Hofstra University conveys the history of Asenath Hatch Nicholson, an early 19th century woman, schoolteacher, health reformer, traveler, writer, evangelist, social worker and peace activist. Asenath Hatch Nicholson (1792-1855), born in Chelsea, Vermont, made her way across Lake Champlain to Elizabethtown, New York. At age 21, she started a boarding school on Water Street for students from the town and neighboring farms. While in Elizabethtown, she met her husband Norman Nicholson, a local widower with a young family. The couple moved to New York City where Nicholson became a disciple of the health reformer Sylvester Graham. Nicholson opened a Grahamite boarding house and worked among the poor. After she was widowed, she set out from New York on a fifteen-month visit to Ireland to “investigate the condition of the Irish poor,” reading the Bible to country people, and sharing their hospitality, leaving us with a glimpse of Ireland on the eve of the Great Irish Famine in her book Ireland’s Welcome to the Stranger (1847).

Festival: Field, Forest & Stream Sept 25, 10-3:30

A harvest festival sponsored by the Arts Council for the Northern Adirondacks and the Elizabethtown-Lewis Chamber of Commerce featuring demonstrations and exhibits by regional craftspeople, antique dealers, storytellers and musical performances.

Ten Biggest Stories in New York History For 2009


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In no particular order, the Ten Biggest Stories in New York State History in 2009.

150th Anniversary of John Brown’s Death
2009 marked the 150th anniversary of abolitionist John Brown’s anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, his subsequent execution and the return of his body to North Elba, Essex County. To commemorate Brown’s struggle to end slavery in America, activities included lectures, a symposium, and a reenactment of the return of Brown’s body to North Elba including an overnight stay in Elizabethtown.


Archeological Discoveries
It was a big year for archeological discoveries in Essex County where work on the pre-civil African American community progressed, in Lake Ontario where an 1850s Schooner was discovered, in Albany where an early 19th century cemetery was uncovered, and in Fishkill where a number of Revolutionary War era graves were found. Also, a Civil War soldier was finally returned to Saratoga National Cemetery to be reburied.

Rogers Island, Fort Edward
While dredging PCBs from the Hudson River in Fort Edward a dredge struck the remains of Old Fort Edward damaging one of the most important and historic military sites in New York State. Archaeologist scrambled to asses and mitigate the damage. Another tragic event happened in November when Jeffrey Harbison, part of a 5-person archaeological crew hired by General Electric to begin research for Phase 2 of the Hudson River dredging project next summer, was drowned after going over a dam. The bad news at Rogers Island was capped with later that month when a development plan for the southern end of the island was presented.

400th Anniversary of Henry Hudson
New Year’s Day 2009 marked the start of New York’s Quadricentennial celebration commemorating 400 years of history on the Hudson River, New York Harbor and Lake Champlain. Throughout the year, New York honored the 400th anniversaries of the voyage of Captain Henry Hudson, who led (for the Dutch) the first European expedition to sail up the river that now bears his name, as well as the voyage of Samuel de Champlain, the first to discover the namesake lake. Communities from the Big Apple to the Canadian border held events to highlight New York’s rich history of exploration and discovery.

Lake Champlain Bridge Demolition
The Lake Champlain Bridge, built in 1929 to span between Crown Point, New York and Chimney Point, Vermont, was undergoing study to deal with it’s historic preservation when on October 16, 2009 it was closed indefinitely. In November an engineering report suggested the bridge be demolished and in late December it was unceremoniously destroyed by demolished with explosives. A several hour detour now replaces the old bridge.

Historic Preservation Tax Credit
In July Governor David Paterson signed legislation that greatly improves the New York State Rehabilitation Tax Credit program. The new law provides incentives and program features for developers and municipalities seeking to rehabilitate historic buildings, and is hoped to advance redevelopment and economic stimulus goals throughout New York State. An economic impact study predicts that the enhanced rehabilitation tax credit will spur over $500 million dollars of economic activity in New York State and create some 2,000 jobs over its initial five-year lifespan.

Rensselaer County Historical Society Threatened
The Rensselaer County Historical Society announced in March that they may be forced to close due to economic hardship. “RCHS is currently experiencing severe financial difficulty,” officials at the Society told their supporters, “The organization been running annual deficits for several years, and despite special efforts, the situation has now become critical. In a matter of weeks RCHS will no longer have funds available to meet its basic operating needs.” RCHS is still holding on, but the economic crisis appears far from over.

Coney Island’s Demise Hastened
A major debate raged this year about the future of Coney Island. Thor Equities (a development company) has purchased large tracts of land in the reknown seaside resort of yore, and the City Planning Commission passed a radical rezoning to encourage economic redevelopment – a plan vehemently opposed by preservation interests. This year Coney lost landmarks like Astroland and Major Meats on Mermaid Avenue. Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park may be next as the park has sold it’s popular Thunderbolt ride late last year. In December the grassroots activist group Save Coney Island, along with several Coney Island residents and amusement district workers and performers filed a lawsuit challenging the Bloomberg administration’s rezoning of Coney Island’s amusement area. It may be the only hope of saving an American landmark.

New York Writers Institute’s 25th Anniversary
2009 marked the 25th Anniversary of one of New York State’s most important literary institutions. Since 1984, more than 1,000 novelists, poets, biographers, filmmakers, historians, essayists and creative artists have presented a wide ranging variety of performance, readings, workshops, seminars, and other public events. Since the Institute was started by writer and historian William Kennedy (using some of his MacArthur award prize money) more then a quarter million people have attended its events.

War of 1812 Bill Vetoed

Governor David Paterson vetoed a bill that would have created a commission to organize and promote bi-national events related to the War of 1812’s 200th anniversary. Paterson said the expense, which he put at about $2.25 million by 2016, was “not absolutely necessary” in light of a then-looming state. Supporters however, pointed out that the bill did not require a budget appropriation, but would provide a structure of volunteers to coordinate commemorative events.

150th Commemoration of John Brown Events Planned


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Margaret Gibbs, Director of the Essex County Historical Society / Adirondack History Center Museum in Elizabethtown has sent along the following notice of the 150th Commemoration of John Brown scheduled for December 6th. Regular readers of my other online project Adirondack Almanack know that I have been writing a series of posts on John Brown, his anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry Virginia, subsequent capture, trial, and execution. You can read the entire series here.

Here is the press release outlining the commemoration events:

On Sunday, December 6, 2009 the Adirondack History Center Museum is commemorating John Brown on the 150th anniversary of his death and the return of his body to Essex County. Events are scheduled in Westport and Elizabethtown in recognition of the role Essex County citizens played at the time of the return of John Brown’s body to his final resting place in North Elba. In the cause of abolition, John Brown raided the U. S. arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia on the night of October 16, 1859. The raid resulted in the capture of John Brown and the deaths of his sons Oliver & Watson and his sons-in-law William and Dauphin Watson. John Brown was tried in Charles Town, Virginia on charges of treason and inciting slaves to rebellion and murder. He was found guilty and hanged on December 2, 1859.

John Brown’s body was transported from Harper’s Ferry to Vergennes, VT, accompanied by his widow, Mary Brown. From Vermont the body was taken across Lake Champlain by sail ferry to Barber’s Point in Westport, and the journey continued through the Town of Westport and on to Elizabethtown. The funeral cortege arrived in Elizabethtown at 6 o’clock on the evening of December 6th 1859. The body of John Brown was taken to the Essex County Court House and “watched” through the night by four local young men. Mary Brown and her companions spent the night across the street at the Mansion House, now known as the Deer’s Head Inn. On the morning of December 7th the party continued on to North Elba. The burial of John Brown was on December 8th attended by many residents of Essex County.

The commemorative program on December 6th begins at 1:00 pm at the Westport Heritage House with award-winning author Russell Banks reading from his national bestselling novel, Cloudsplitter, about John Brown, his character and his part in the abolitionist movement. The program continues with a lecture by Don Papson, John Brown and the Underground Railroad, on whether or not Brown sheltered runaway slaves at his North Elba farm. Don Papson is the founding President of the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association. The program continues in Elizabethtown at 3:30 pm at the United Church of Christ with The Language that Shaped the World, a tapestry of sounds, stories and characters portraying the human spirit and the fight for freedom. At 4:30 pm a procession follows John Brown’s coffin from the United Church of Christ to the Old Essex County Courthouse. At 5:00 pm the public may pay their respects at the Old Essex County Courthouse with the coffin lying in state. The program concludes at 5:30 PM with a reception held at the Deer’s Head Inn.

The cost for all events of the day including the Deer’s Head Inn reception is $40 ticket, or a $15 donation covers the programs at the Westport Heritage House and The Language that Shaped the World only. Reservations are requested. The procession and Courthouse are free and open to the public. The Westport Heritage House is located at 6459 Main Street, Westport, NY. The United Church of Christ, is located beside the museum on Court Street, Elizabethtown, NY. For more information, please contact the museum at 518-873-6466 or email echs@adkhistorycenter.org.

The December 6th program is part of a series of events from December 4-8, 2009 presented for the John Brown Coming Home Commemoration through the Lake Placid/Essex County Visitors Bureau. For a complete schedule of events go to www.johnbrowncominghome.com.

John Brown Symposium, Reenactment, Memorial


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A tremendous slate of events has been planned for the Lake Placid-North Eba area to commemorate the life and death of abolitionist John Brown. Dubbed the “John Brown Coming Home Commemoration,” held from November 4th to December 8th, 2009, the series of events will examine John Brown’s impact on the country leading up to the civil war, the use of violence, and on the ongoing efforts to end slavery and human rights abuses in this country and worldwide; and reenactments of his cortege home, body lying in state at the Essex County Courthouse, burial at his farm, and the memorial service.

Among those taking part in the events will be Kevin Bales, president of Free the Slaves, local author Russell Banks, activist and co-founder of the Weather Underground Bernardine Dohrn, executive director of CORE George Holmes, John Brown descendant Alice Keesey Mecoy, Maria Suarez, who was sold into slavery at the age of 16, Margaret Washington, Sojourner Truth’s America and Louis DeCaro, Jr., author of John Brown: The Cost of Freedom. A full list of events follows.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17

Actor actor Fred Morsell will launch the John Brown Coming Home’s Artist Residencies-in-Schools program with a dramatic portrayal of Frederick Douglass in one-man performance based on Douglass’ writings. Called “Frederick Douglass: A Soul’s Evolution,” the piece will include excerpts from Douglass’ homage to John Brown that Douglass delivered in Harpers Ferry in 1881 in which Douglass declared that Brown “began the war that ended American slavery, and made this a free Republic.” This event is limited to the participating schools, currently Crown Point, Keene, Keesville, Lake Placid Central, Moriah, Newcomb and Westport.

Students, representing age groups and disciplines, working with professional artists representing different mediums—poetry, dance, songwriting, drama and drumming–will create personal works in response to their examination of the life, the times and the legacy of abolitionist John Brown at a culminating event at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts on December 4, and at their respective schools thereafter.

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 20

7:30 PM, Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Algonquin Drive, Lake Placid, NY
Film: John Brown’s Holy War

Produced for PBS’s American Experience, drawing upon interviews with historians and writers, including novelist Russell Banks, and stunning reenactments, Robert Kenner’s film traces Brown’s obsessive battle against human bondage that in the end sparked the Civil War. A post screening discussion will be held. This event is presented by the Lake Placid Center for the Arts.

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 22
3:00 PM, 511 Gallery, 2461 Main Street, Lake Placid

Have You Seen that Vigilante Man?, a lecture by Amy Godine and presented by the Lake Placid Institute for the Arts & Humanities

Night Riders, lynch mobs and vigilante justice… The darkest side of American mob justice was not confined to the Deep South and the Far West. The history of the Adirondacks is ablaze with incidents of so-called “frontier justice,” from mob attacks on radical abolitionists to “townie” raids on striking immigrant labors to anti-Catholic gatherings of the Klu Klux Klan. Amy Godine’s anecdotal history of Adirondack vigilantism explores a regional legacy with deep, enduring, toxic roots.

Curator of the traveling exhibition, “Dreaming of Timbuctoo,” independent scholar Amy Godine is a contributor to the regional anthologies, The Second Adirondack Reader and Rooted in Rock, and a regular writer on ethnic history for Adirondack Life.

FRIDAY DECEMBER 4
5:00 p.m., Lake Placid Center for the Arts, 17 Algonquin Drive, Lake Placid

Culminating event of the John Brown Coming Homes Artist Residencies-in-Schools program (see November 17)

7:30 PM (reception to follow)

Slavery: An exploration through contemporary film, lead by JW Wiley, Director of the Center for Diversity, Pluralism, and Inclusion for State University of New York-Plattsburgh. Narrative and documentary filmmakers have captured contemporary situations that are equal too the personal experiences that motivated John Brown. This presentation will use film clips from their work to explore the broad context of racism in the era of Brown. Wiley writes, “situating the reality of his life in the midst of the racist times he lived will provide opportunities for us to speculate and examine some of his potential motivations for the monumentally historic actions he took.” This event is presented by the Adirondack Film Society

SATURDAY DECEMBER 5
High Peaks Resort, 2384 Saranac Avenue, Lake Placid, NY

Symposium on the Life and Legacy of John Brown

The purpose of the symposium is to investigate the whole person, John Brown, including the experiences and faith that shaped him; the pre Civil War reality for African-Americans, both in slavery and seeking to end slavery; the post Civil War era for African-Americans; Brown’s ongoing influence on those who have tried to foster social change; and to examine and understand slavery today and create discussion around the question, Is violence ever justified?

Morning

9:00 AM Opening Keynote: Margaret Washington: The African American Experience. Professor Margaret Washington, Cornell authority on the black experience. Recent work: Sojourner Truth’s America. Articles include, From Motives of Delicacy: Sexuality and Morality in the Narratives of Sojourner Truth and Harriet Jacobs, Journal of African American History, and Rachel Weeping for Her Children.

10:00 AM Presentation: Rev, Dr. Louis DeCaro, Jr.: John Brown, A Man of His Times, Assistant Professor of History at Theology at Alliance Theological Seminary, works include the collection of essays John Brown Remembered, and books John Brown–the Cost of Freedom, and Fire from the Midst of You: A Religious Life of John Brown.

Break

11:15 AM

Presentation: Slavery in our Time

Kevin Bales. Author: Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy (nominated for Pulitzer), Understanding Global Slavery and Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves. Expert on modern slavery, president of Free the Slaves, Board of Directors of the International Cocoa Initiative.

Maria Suarez, a social worker and advocate to end human trafficking, who was sold into and lived in slavery in the United States for 5 years beginning when she was sixteen years old and freed only when a neighbor killed her captor, but then wrongly imprisoned for that death and eventually pardoned.

Lunch on own

Afternoon

1:30 PM Panel: John Brown’s Legacy

Moderator: Russell Banks; Novels include: Affliction, The Sweet Hereafter, both also critically-acclaimed movies; The Book of Jamaica Continental Drift, Rule of the Bone, a historical novel about abolitionist John Brown, Cloudsplitter, and The Darling. President of Cities of Refuge North America and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Bank has taught at many colleges and universities including Princeton.

Panelists:

Kevin Bales. Author: Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy (nominated for Pulitzer), Understanding Global Slavery and Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves. Expert on modern slavery, president of Free the Slaves, Board of Directors of the International Cocoa Initiative.

Bernardine Dohrn, activist, academic and child advocate, is Director of the Children and Family Justice Center and Clinical Associate Professor of the Northwestern University School Law, Bluhm Legal Clinic. Dohrn was a national leader of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) and the Weather Underground, and was on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List for over a decade.

George Holmes, executive director, chief operating officer, Congress of Racial Equality, Coordinated American delegation dispatched to observe and monitor free elections in Nigeria in 1996-97. Organized emergency response team to assist in the World Trade Center collapse.

Alice Keesey Mecoy. Great-great-great granddaughter of abolitionist John Brown has researched her family history for 30 years, especially the women in John Brown’s life, dedicated to war against slavery. Presented her findings to the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Saratoga Historical Museum.

Margaret Washington. Cornell professor Margaret Washington is an authority on the black experience. Recent work: Sojourner Truth’s America. Articles include, From Motives of Delicacy: Sexuality and Morality in the Narratives of Sojourner Truth and Harriet Jacobs, Journal of African American History, and Rachel Weeping for Her Children

J.W. Wiley, Director for the Center for Diversity, Pluralism, and Inclusion at State University of New York – Plattsburgh and a lecturer in philosophy and minority studies. Works to implement strategies and policies for inclusion and diversity.

4:00 PM

His Spirit Lives On

John Brown’s Farm State Historic Site

Walk to the John Brown’s Grave along Old John Brown Road

Laying of Wreath at John Brown’s Grave

lead by Roy Innis, National President of C.O.R.E.

7:30 PM

Site: Adirondack Community Church

Tribute to Russell Banks

Presentation of the first Adirondack Arts and Humanities Award to author Russell Banks; author William Kennedy master of ceremonies followed by a gospel concert

SUNDAY DECEMBER 6

10 AM

Re-enactment of the bringing of John Brown’s Cortege across Lake Champlain from Button Bay Park, VT to Westport, NY by the Weatherwax, a replica of a 19th century sail ferry similar to the one used to bring Mary Brown, leading abolitionists and the body of her husband.

12:00 Noon

Westport Heritage Center, Westport, NY

JOHN BROWN AND THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
Lecture by Don Papson

John Brown sacrificed his life at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia in 1859 attempting to establish an Underground Railroad Passageway through the Appalachian Mountains. For 150 years historians have wondered whether or not Brown sheltered runaway slaves at his North Elba farm in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. Some local 20th century historians concluded that there was no Underground Railroad activity at North Elba and that all of Brown’s black neighbors were “ordinary” “free” “New Yorkers.” Social historian Don Papson has discovered documents suggesting that the truth may have been an entirely different story.

Don Papson is the founding President of the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association and Curator for the North Star Underground Railroad Museum, which will open at Ausable Chasm in 2010.

Lecture followed by a 19th century luncheon. John Brown’s casket will have been brought up to the church prior to the presentation.

Event presented by the Adirondack History Center Museum (tickets required)

2:00 PM

John Brown’s casket brought to Old Stone Church in Elizabethtown

3:00 PM

Old Stone Church, Elizabethtown

Dramatic readings from Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks; poetry readings; musical presentations

Adirondack History Center Museum Open, appropriate exhibits on display

4:30 PM

Procession of John Brown’s coffin from Old Stone Church to Essex County Courthouse. Event presented by the Adirondack History Center Museum

5:00 PM

Essex County Courthouse

Coffin laid in state, honor guard, candles, public may bear witness through the evening

5:30 PM

Deer’s Head Inn

Reception presented by the Adirondack History Center Museum (tickets required)

MONDAY DECEMBER 7

3:00 PM

John Brown Farm State Historic Site, Lake Placid, NY

Returning Home

John Brown’s coffin is brought to the Farm. The procession will begin on Rte 73, continue up Old Military Road and along John Brown Road and end at the Farm with the placement of the coffin the in Farmhouse for the evening.

4:00 PM

Coffin arrives at Farm

6:00 PM

John Brown Farm State Historic Site

The Sword of the Spirit, by Magpie

Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino, better known as Magpie, one of the premier folk music duos in America today, will present their stirring collection of songs that reflect on the life, death and turbulent times of abolitionist John Brown, his family and followers. Sword of the Spirit, traces the story of one of the most controversial figures in our nation’s history whose rage against slavery led him to his daring and violent raid on the US Army Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry in 1859 that became one of the sparks that helped ignite the war between the states. Making history come alive is one thing. To do it through words and music takes a special talent. Magpie handles the task beautifully with upbeat themes, delightful harmonies and thrilling anthems. Here is music with depth, relevance and topnotch songwriting.

TUESDAY DECEMBER 8

11:00 AM

Memorial Service begins at John Brown’s Farm

Re-enactors for: Wendell Phillips, co-leader on American Anti-Slavery Society

Reverend Joshua Young, L Bigelow, Mary Brown

11:45 PM

Service ends with ringing of the bells in churches throughout the region.

Post event reception at Uihlein Farm (invitation required)

RESERVATIONS FOR SYMPOSIUM AND TRIBUTE
Kristin Strack
Reservations Manager
518-523-2445 ext109
Email: kristin@lakeplacid.com JOHN BROWN 150th COMMEMORATION

John Brown Anniversary Exhibit at NY Historical Society


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When John Brown led his now-legendary raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in 1859, hoping to secure weapons for a slave insurrection, he failed in his immediate goal but succeeded in raising tensions to a fever pitch between pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces. The conflict he had intensified, and which he had now come to symbolize, would lead by 1861 to secession and civil war.

One hundred and fifty years after John Brown’s raid, the New-York Historical Society in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History presents the exhibition John Brown: The Abolitionist and His Legacy, exploring the beliefs, activities and continuing significance of this critical figure, vilified by some as a murderer and venerated by others as a martyr.

On view from through March 25, 2010, this exhibition of rare materials from the Gilder Lehrman Collection and the New-York Historical Society also sets the stage for the culminating presentation of the Historical Society’s Lincoln Year, with the landmark exhibition Lincoln and New York, opening October 9, 2009.

“John Brown’s attack at Harpers Ferry convinced Southerners that their political and economic survival was threatened, while outrage over his execution rallied and unified Northern abolitionists,” according to Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “As we continue our year-long celebration of Abraham Lincoln, we hope these extraordinary and seldom-seen materials will not only shed light on Brown himself but will help illuminate events that led to Lincoln’s election in 1860.”

“John Brown: The Abolitionist and His Legacy examines Brown in the context of growing national divisions over slavery in the 1850s,” commented James G. Basker, President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. “Most African Americans and abolitionists saw John Brown as a martyr for a noble and humane cause. Others saw him as a terrorist who attacked legal institutions and was willing to kill to achieve his goals. This exhibition invites people to examine the tension between these divergent views at the critical moment in American history, with repercussions down through the Civil Rights movement of the 20th century.”

John Brown expected that his attack on Harpers Ferry, carried out by both white and black raiders, would inspire enslaved people to escape from plantations across the South. According to his plan, the former slaves would join him in safe havens in the mountains, where he would arm and train them for guerrilla warfare. The loss of slaves and the fear of insurrection would destabilize the South and build political support in the North.

On Sunday, October 16, 1859, Brown led twenty-one men (sixteen of them white and five black) to Harpers Ferry, Virginia, where they captured the armory, arsenal and rifle factory. A local mob quickly surrounded the town, preventing the raiders from escaping, while federal troops led by Robert E. Lee rushed to the scene. On Tuesday, October 18, soldiers successfully stormed the stronghold, seriously wounding Brown. He was tried and convicted of inciting slave insurrection, treason against Virginia, and murder. Before being hanged on December 2, 1859, Brown wrote prophetically: “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.”

Visitors to the exhibition will encounter manuscripts never before exhibited, including dramatic letters by John Brown to his followers; a letter by Frederick Douglass praising Brown but distancing himself from the raid; Brown’s parting words on the eve of his execution; a letter from the mother of a Kansas murder victim, damning Brown on the scaffold; and reminiscences by Brown’s children and other eyewitnesses.

Lending dramatic context to these materials are powerful images, such as the 1859 sculpture “The Slave Auction” by John Rogers; the heroic 1867 painting by Thomas Satterwhite Noble, “John Brown’s Blessing”; photographs of Brown and his family members; photographs of his supporters, the “Secret Six”; and photographs of other key participants. Among the other important objects on view will be a “John Brown Still Lives!” broadside from 1859; a rare printing of the Emancipation Proclamation; a 1926 lynching poster; and other artifacts of the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras.
The majority of the objects in the exhibition are drawn from the Gilder Lehrman Collection, currently on deposit at the New-York Historical Society.

First Of Several Local John Brown Events On Saturday


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This year marks the 150th anniversary of abolitionist John Brown’s anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, his subsequent execution and the return of his body to North Elba, Essex County, NY.

Over at Adirondack Almanack I’ve been writing a series of posts – The Last Days of John Brown – to commemorate Brown’s struggle to end slavery in America, and both here and at the Almanack I’ll be reporting on events as the anniversary approaches. So far local activities include a lecture, a symposium, and a reenactment of the return of Brown’s body to North Elba. It all kicks off with a lecture this Saturday, October 10th, with a lecture by historian Zoe Trodd at 2:00 PM, at John Brown’s Farm.

Here is the event announcement:

A Living Legacy: John Brown in the Anti-Lynching Protest Tradition, a lecture by Zoe Trodd. Protest writers have long pointed to the abolitionist past as central to present and future social change. At the heart was of this living legacy was one figure: John Brown. This lecture will trace the presence of Brown in anti-lynching literature from the Niagara Movement to Langston Hughes. Trodd is the author of Meteor of War: The John Brown Story; American Protest Literature; and The Tribunal: Responses to John Brown and the Harper’s Ferry Raid. This event is presented by John Brown Lives!