Tag Archives: Political History

1797 Fort Jay Letter Acquired By Jay Heritage Center


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john adler and his familyAbout seventeen years ago, inspired by the purchase of several volumes of a popular 19th century journal, John Adler had an idea – make the American narrative more accessible to the public. So upon his retirement, the former advertising executive launched a multi-year endeavor to create a database of articles, images and ads scanned from the iconic Harper’s Weekly Magazine.

Harper’s was the premiere chronicle of political events and literary commentary of its day, and Adler’s invention would help readers navigate thousands of stories from 1857 to 1916. One could find everything from headlines about Lincoln’s election to Thomas Nast’s cartoons denouncing slavery. This online trove christened “HarpWeek” was further complemented by academic essays and materials for educators. In 2003, Adler’s searchable scholarship “HarpWeek Presents Lincoln and the War” won recognition from the prestigious Gilder Lehrman Institute and an E-Lincoln Prize. Continue reading

Two Jefferson County Men Who Made Good in Illinois


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P1RockfordMfgCo1889A pair of North Country men, born just a few miles apart in Jefferson County, left New York in their adult years and settled about 65 miles apart in Illinois, where each left his lasting mark. Together, their names were also attached to an institution in Arkansas that lives on nearly a century and a half later.

John Budlong was born in February 1833 in Rodman, New York, about eight miles south of Watertown. The Budlong family has many historical connections dating back to the Revolutionary War. John attended several of the best schools in the region: the Rodman Seminary, the Jefferson County Institute at Watertown, the Adams Institute, and Falley Seminary at Fulton in Oswego County. At the age of 18 he began a wide-ranging teaching career, working in North Carolina, Texas, and Missouri before returning to Rodman, where he continued teaching and began studying law. Continue reading

The Age of American Revolutions


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ben_franklins_worldThe American Revolution inspired revolutions in France, the Caribbean, and in Latin and South America between the late 18th and mid-19th centuries.

Naturally, Spanish and Portuguese American revolutionaries turned to the United States for assistance with their fights. How did Americans in the United States respond to these calls for assistance? What did they make of these other “American Revolutions?”

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Caitlin Fitz, an Assistant Professor of History at Northwestern University and the author of Our Sister Republics: The United States in an Age of American Revolutions (Liveright, 2016), helps us investigate answers to these questions. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/090

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The North Country Man Who Threatened A President


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P1JosephDoldoWhen presidential historians and scholars rate America’s greatest leaders, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is among the few who nearly always appear among the top five, along with Washington and Lincoln. While others certainly served admirably, those three achieved elevated status by facing stern tests of leadership during great crises in our history: the battle for independence, the fight to preserve the Union, and in FDR’s case, both the Great Depression and World War II.

It’s less well known that Roosevelt very nearly didn’t serve as President due to assassination attempts prior to his first inauguration. One of those stories brought ignominious headlines to the North Country over a period of several months.

Roosevelt first won the presidency in November 1932. The 20th Amendment was ratified on January 23, 1933, officially establishing January 20 as the new inauguration date for all future presidents, and making FDR the last President to be inaugurated on March 4. He very nearly didn’t survive the waiting period. Continue reading

Civil Rights: Resisting The New Jim Crow Rules


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President Johnson Signs Civil Rights Act 1964The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) will host the culminating event for its CHANGING AMERICA exhibit and programs: a Community Conversation on the subject of “Resisting the New Jim Crow” on Saturday, July 9, at 2 pm.

NAHOF invites the public to join in sharing thoughts about the ways to engage in the work of racial justice at this time. This conversation will aim to help each be active, in many small ways, in standing together to work toward an end to such things as the school-to-prison pipeline, police brutality, and the legacy of white supremacy that still perpetuates racism and de-values black lives. Continue reading

New Exhibit Highlights Alexander Hamilton In Albany


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Portrait of Alexander Hamilton, ca.1810One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), was a brilliant politician-lawyer who served as an indispensable aide to George Washington during and after the American Revolution.

Among his many achievements, Hamilton is credited with creating the financial system of the United States, and was the first Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. The current Broadway musical sensation Hamilton has sparked an interest in the man on the $10 bill.

The Albany Institute of History & Art’s new exhibition, Spotlight: Alexander Hamilton, highlights Hamilton’s connections to Albany, New York through personal papers, family heirlooms, historic preservation efforts, and a stunning portrait painted by Albany’s own Ezra Ames (1768—1836). Continue reading

Understanding Shays’ Rebellion


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ben_franklins_worldAfter achieving independence from Great Britain, the new United States and its member states had to pay war debts. As the national government lacked the power to tax its citizens, the problem of paying war debts fell to the states.

Many states tried to solve the post-war debt problem by paying state debts before national debts. But Massachusetts tried to pay both. Its strategy created hardship for many Bay Staters and ultimately sparked a rebellion.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Sean Condon, a Professor of History at Merrimack College, joins us to investigate the rebellion, which we remember today as Shays’ Rebellion. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/087

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Benjamin Franklin in London


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ben_franklins_worldOver the course of his long life, Benjamin Franklin traveled to and lived in London on two different occasions. The first time he went as a teenager. The second as a man and colonial agent. All told he spent nearly 18 years living in the heart of the British Empire.

How did Franklin’s experiences in London shape his opportunities and view of the world?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, George Goodwin, author of Benjamin Franklin in London: The British Life of America’s Founding Father (Yale University Press, 2016), leads us on an exploration of Franklin’s life in London. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/086

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John Jay Medal Awarded Historian Joseph Ellis


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John Jay Medal AwardsOn May 14th, the Jay Heritage Center (JHC) held its second John Jay Medal Dinner and recognized two individuals whose efforts have helped elevate and strengthen the legacy of native New Yorker, John Jay.

JHC’s first honoree was Prof. Joseph J. Ellis, one of the nation’s leading historians and the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Founding Brothers: the Revolutionary Generation.  Ellis’ exhaustive and illuminating research for his newest book The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution 1783-1789 restores John Jay to the pantheon of nation-builders alongside Washington, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Continue reading