Bruce W. Dearstyne’s expanded new edition of The Spirit of New York (SUNY Press, 2022; first published 2016) explores nineteen dramatic events from New York State’s history that altered the course of U.S. history.
From the launch of the state government in April 1777 thru the tragedy of September 11th and through the debut of the musical play Hamilton in 2015, Dearstyne’s chapters describe great political changes, historical turning points, and struggles for social, racial, and environmental reform.
The book includes daring acts of courage and against-the-odds stories of struggle and triumph. Dearstyne puts the fascinating people who made history at the center of the story, including John Jay, the lead writer of the first state constitution; Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the irrepressible crusader for women’s rights; Glenn Curtiss, New York’s aviation pioneer; and Robert Moses, controversial president of the 1964 New York World’s Fair; Jackie Robinson, the first Black man to play baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers; and Lois Gibbs, the environmental activist at the center of the fight for environmental justice at Love Canal. The events illustrate the “spirit” of New York—the elusive traits that make New York State unique and a leader among the fifty states—and the complexity of its history.
This new edition is updated with four recent significant events, including the stories of New Yorkers who joined the “Occupy” protests and those who struggled through Superstorm Sandy.
Bruce W. Dearstyne has published several books, including Railroads and Railroad Regulations in New York State, 1900–1913. He served as a program director at the New York State Archives and on the staff of the Office of State History. He has taught New York State history at the University at Albany, State University of New York, Russell Sage College, and the State University of New York at Potsdam. He lives in Guilderland, New York.
Bruce Dearstyne has been a regular contributor to the New York Almanack since 2011.
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