Tag Archives: Political History

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

The Erie Canal Marks A 200th Anniversary


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aqueduct bridge at rochesterOn May 17, 1816, the State’s Canal Commissioners met in New York City. This was their first meeting since being reauthorized by the legislature on April 17th, just a few weeks earlier. Five commissioners were appointed by the legislature – Stephen Van Rensselaer, DeWitt Clinton, Samuel Young, Joseph Ellicott and Myron Holley. Several of them had been canal commissioners since 1810. During that period they had surveyed much of the route in person and had kept the dream of the waterway alive during the intervening dismal years of war on their frontier (War of 1812). At the May 17th meeting the commissioners initiated actions that ensured that construction of the Erie Canal would begin a year later. Continue reading

The Enlightenment of Cadwallader Colden


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the enlightenment of cadawaller coldenWas there a conservative Enlightenment? Could a self-proclaimed man of learning and progressive science also have been an agent of monarchy and reaction?

Cadwallader Colden (1688–1776), an educated Scottish emigrant and powerful colonial politician, was at the forefront of American intellectual culture in the mid-eighteenth century.

While living in rural New York, he recruited family, friends, servants, and slaves into multiple scientific ventures and built a transatlantic network of contacts and correspondents that included Benjamin Franklin and Carl Linnaeus. Over several decades, Colden pioneered colonial botany, produced new theories of animal and human physiology, authored an influential history of the Iroquois, and developed bold new principles of physics and an engaging explanation of the cause of gravity. Continue reading

Politics, Social Life, and the Coming of the Civil War


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Can history help us solve the present-day political and cultural crisis in the United States?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we investigate whether the past might help us with the present with Rachel Shelden, author of Washington Brotherhood: Politics, Social Life, and the Coming of the Civil War (UNCPress, 2013).  You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/078

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Lafayette: Hero of Two Worlds, Champion of Liberty


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lafayette book coverHe used civil disobedience before Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. made it a thing. Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, French aristocrat and military officer, fought for the United States in the American Revolutionary War and influenced America’s founding fathers on issues like slavery and capital punishment.

Veteran journalist and self-proclaimed Lafayette historian Donald Miller’s seventh book, Lafayette: His Extraordinary Life and Legacy (iUniverse, 2015) looks in depth at one of the most influential men in French and American history. Continue reading

Citizen Sailors: Becoming American in the Age of Revolution


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ben_franklins_worldWhat did it mean to be a citizen during the late-18th and early-19th centuries?

Why and how did early American sailors seem intent on proving their citizenship to the United States?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore citizenship and maritime life during the Age of Revolutions with Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, author of Citizen Sailors: Becoming American in the Age of Revolution (Belknap Press, 2015). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/076

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Some Interesting History Anniversaries in 2017


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New York State MapPlans are being developed for commemoration of at least three significant historical events next year – the centennial of women’s suffrage in New York State, the bicentennial of the Erie Canal, and the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I. These are all exciting opportunities to call attention to New York’s history.

But the New York historical community might consider going even further with these three events. In fact, the historical community might consider making 2017 a special year for New York history.  Here are a few possibilities: Continue reading

Biographical Sketches of New York’s First 21 Governors


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biographical sketches of NY's first 21 governorsNew York State’s first 21 Governors had a profound impact on the development and growth of the State and Country from 1777-1864. The stories of their extraordinary lives show how the State of New York and the United States developed from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War.

Todd Elzey’s book Biographical Sketches of New York’s First 21 Governors (Be Informed Books, 2015) presents intriguing stories of these men, including: Continue reading

The Bible In Early America


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ben_franklins_worldWhat role did the Bible play in the development of British North America and early United States?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we address this question by exploring the place of the Bible in early America. Our guide for this exploration is Mark Noll, the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame and the author of In the Beginning Was the Word The Bible in American Public Life, 1492-1783 (Oxford University Press, 2015). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/073

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NYS Women’s Suffrage Commemoration Update


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Photo courtesy the National Susan B Anthony Museum & House.In 2017 it will be 100 years since New York State signed woman’s suffrage into law, three years before the US passed the 19th Amendment. This was a milestone for the state and a transformative moment in American democracy.

Thanks to public help last November, Senator Betty Little and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther circulated letters outlining a $3.9M request to support the centennial. This funding would support grants, programs, and statewide events and activities at cultural heritage sites, museums, libraries and other community organizations. Signers from both houses added their support to these letters, but thus far no funding has been included in either the Senate or House budgets. Continue reading