Tag Archives: Political History

Politics of Tea During the American Revolution


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ben_franklins_worldHow did early Americans go from hosting social tea parties to hosting protests like the Boston Tea Party?

Tea played a central role in the economic, cultural, and political lives of early Americans. As such, tea came to serve as a powerful symbol of both early American culture and of the American Revolution.

In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, Jane Merritt, Jennifer Anderson, and David Shields take us on an exploration of the politics of tea during the era of the American Revolution. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/160

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Columbia Students Discover the Power of Protest


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Canon John Collins of St. Paul's Cathedral, speaking for nuclear disarmament at protest in London's Trafalgar Square on April 3, 1961The reckless threats of nuclear war flung back and forth between the North Korean and U.S. governments remind me of an event in which I participated back in the fall of 1961, when I was a senior at Columbia College.

At the end of August 1961, the Soviet government had announced that it was withdrawing from the U.S.-Soviet-British moratorium on nuclear weapons testing that had halted such tests for the previous three years while the three governments tried to agree on a test ban treaty. The resumption of Soviet government’s nuclear weapons testing that followed was topped off that October by its explosion in the atmosphere of a 50-megaton hydrogen bomb, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. Meanwhile, the Kennedy administration, determined not to be outdone in a display of national “strength,” quickly resumed U.S. nuclear testing underground and began to discuss the U.S. resumption of nuclear testing in the atmosphere. Continue reading

Abolition Hall of Fame Weekend Planned


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2016 Induction Webber Stewart LandThe National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) commemoration ceremonies for the 2016 inductees will be held Saturday, October 21, 2017 at NAHOF, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY.

The inductees are Rev. John Gregg Fee, Beriah Green, Angelina Grimké, and James W.C. Pennington. This is the last year of the two year induction-commemoration cycle. Beginning in 2018 inductions and commemorations will be completed in one year.

At 3 on Saturday, October 21 Christopher L. Webber, who nominated Pennington to the Hall of Fame, will present James W.C. Pennington: Pastor and Abolitionist for the Abolition Symposia. Webber, the author of American to the Backbone: The Journey of James W.C. Pennington from Slavery to World Leader, will use his research to present Pennington’s remarkable story. Pennington was born in slavery in Maryland in 1808. At the age of 19, scared and illiterate, James escaped from slavery. Moving finally to Brooklyn he found work as a carriage man and took advantage of night schools. In 1829 Pennington participated in the first Negro National Convention of which he became the presiding officer in 1853. Pennington served congregations in Long Island, Hartford, and Manhattan and traveled three times to England, Scotland, and the continent of Europe as an anti-slavery advocate. He was so respected by European audiences that the University of Heidelberg awarded him an honorary doctorate, making him the first person of African descent to receive such a degree.  Pennington was accepted as the first black student at the Yale Divinity School and was accepted for ordination in the Congregational Church. April 26, 2014 Yale University celebrated the opening of the James W.C. Pennington Christian Ministry Center. Continue reading

William Seward’s and Horatio Seymour’s Gettysburg Addresses


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The dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863, is mostly remembered for the short speech that President Abraham Lincoln delivered there that day. At the time, however, most of the public attention went to a much longer, formal oration by Edward Everett, former Massachusetts governor, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State.

But there were other speakers at Gettysburg as well, including two New Yorkers, Secretary of State (and former U.S. Senator and governor) William H. Seward, and Governor Horatio Seymour.

At the time, Seward and Seymour were nationally recognized and influential leaders and their short speeches were widely noted and reprinted in the press. Continue reading

Freedoms We Lost in the American Revolution


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ben_franklins_worldDeclaring independence from Great Britain required the formation of new governments.

But why did Americans want and need new governments? And how did their interactions and experiences with their old, colonial governments inform their decisions to create new governments?

In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, Barbara Clark Smith, a curator in the division of political history at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the author of The Freedoms We Lost: Consent and Resistance in Revolutionary America (The New Press, 2010), leads us on an exploration of how Americans interacted with their government before the American Revolution and how the Revolution changed their interaction and ideas about government. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/154

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New Exhibition Explores Albany Anti-Suffrage Movement


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anti suffrage pinAlbany Institute of History & Art has opened a new exhibition exploring Albany and Anti-Suffrage Movement.

The year 2017 marks the centennial of woman’s suffrage in New York State.

Albany was considered a stronghold of the anti-suffrage movement. The exhibit tells the story of the women who first met in 1894 before the New York Constitutional Convention convened, organized the Albany branch of the New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, lobbied to make their views heard in 1915, and lost their fight in 1917. Continue reading

JFK in Westchester: Bronxville Years (1929-1941)


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kennedy family 1938In commemoration of the Centennial of the birth of President John F. Kennedy and his early life in Westchester County, a lecture and picture program Growing Up Kennedy in Westchester: The Bronxville Years (1929-1941)  will be presented by author/historian Anthony Czarnecki on Saturday, May 13th, at 2 pm, at Cortlandt Town Hall, 1 Heady Street, Cortlandt Manor.

Open free to the public, the program is jointly sponsored by the Van Cortlandtville Historical Society, Croton Friends of History, and Yorktown Historical Society. Continue reading

Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics


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fear city book coverIn her new book Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics (Metropolitan Books, 2017), historian Kim Phillips-Fein tells the story of the 1975 financial crisis that engulfed New York City. When the news broke that New York City was on the brink of fiscal collapse, few believed it was possible. How could the country’s largest metropolis fail? How could the capital of the financial world go bankrupt? Yet the city was indeed billions of dollars in the red, with no way to pay back its debts. Bankers and politicians alike seized upon the situation as evidence that social liberalism, which New York famously exemplified, was unworkable. The city had to slash services, freeze wages, and fire thousands of workers, they insisted, or financial apocalypse would ensue. Continue reading

Some NNY Media Was Reluctant to Support Women’s Rights


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North Country newspapers, the only media during the 1800s, were slow to come around and at times downright resistant to women’s rights. Their job was to report the news, but in order to maintain readership, they also had to cater to their customers — like the old adage says, “give ’em what they want.” That atmosphere made it difficult for new and progressive ideas, like women’s rights, to make headway.

The push for women’s rights exposed many inequities early on, but it was difficult to establish a foothold among other important stories of the day. The powerful anti-slavery movement of the 1800s presented an opportunity, for although women and slaves were at opposite ends of the spectrum in the popular imagination — women on a pedestal and slaves treated terribly — they sought many of te same goals: freedom to speak out on their own behalf, the right to vote, and equal pay for equal work. Women passionate about those subjects joined anti-slavery organizations to seek freedom and equal rights for all, regardless of race or sex. Continue reading