New York is slowly preparing for the 250th anniversary of both the birth of the United States (July 2, 1776) and the birth of New York State (April 20, 1777, the day the first state constitution was approved). [Read more…] about America & New York’s 250th Birthdays
Exemplary History Museums: Informative & Entertaining
During the past couple of weeks, I visited the Saratoga Automobile Museum in Saratoga Springs and the Empire State Aerosciences Museum in Glenville. They are both outstanding for several reasons including the fact that you can see (and sometimes touch) historical relics and artifacts of sorts; they show how many automobiles and aircraft companies started in New York State; and their personnel include docents who are very knowledgeable and eager to answer questions. [Read more…] about Exemplary History Museums: Informative & Entertaining
The 25th Annual NYS History Month Presents Challenges, Opportunities
Next month, October, is New York State History Month. As usual, the State Museum is planning several activities and offers suggestions for commemorations. Other public history organizations are gearing up for events to “celebrate the history of New York State and recognize the contributions of state and local historians,” in the words of Section 52.02 of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law, which established State History Month by statute. [Read more…] about The 25th Annual NYS History Month Presents Challenges, Opportunities
Albany’s Philip Schuyler Statue, Slavery and History Reconsidered
A statue of Albany’s Philip Schuyler (1733-1804) has stood in front of City Hall since its dedication by Mayor William S. Hackett on June 25, 1925. The statue was a gift to the city from George C. Hawley, a beer baron whose family owned the Dobler Brewery in Albany, in memory of his wife Theodora M. Hawley.
In 2020, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan ordered it removed because Schuyler was a slaveholder. As Mayor Sheehan noted, removing the statue is one way of acknowledging the enduring legacy of slavery. [Read more…] about Albany’s Philip Schuyler Statue, Slavery and History Reconsidered
Alton B. Parker: New York’s Neglected Statesman
The History Channel’s new special on Theodore Roosevelt describes his victory in the 1904 presidential election but doesn’t even mention his Democratic opponent.
That was New York Court of Appeals’ former Chief Judge Alton B. Parker (1852-1926), probably the most neglected major party presidential candidate in U.S. history. Yet at the time of the election Parker was the leader of one of the nation’s two major political parties and one of the nation’s foremost judicial statesmen. [Read more…] about Alton B. Parker: New York’s Neglected Statesman
Bruce Dearstyne On Commemorating America’s 250th Anniversary
Planning has begun for commemoration of the nation’s 250th anniversary, to be officially called the “Semiquincentennial.” The federal government has established America 250. A number of states, including Virginia have established state commissions. In Massachusetts it is called Revolution 250. [Read more…] about Bruce Dearstyne On Commemorating America’s 250th Anniversary
We Should Celebrate New York State’s Birthday on April 20th
New Yorkers, and New York’s historical community in particular, should be gearing up to commemorate and promote New York State’s birthday on April 20th.
That was the date in 1777 when the Convention of Representatives of the State of New York, an ad hoc group elected the previous year to guide New York’s Revolutionary War efforts and develop its first constitution, completed its work. [Read more…] about We Should Celebrate New York State’s Birthday on April 20th
Syracuse Hero Jermain Loguen, Abolition & The Jerry Rescue
During Black History Month, it is useful to recall well-known Black Americans and also some not-so-well known. Jermain Loguen (1813-1872) fits a category of those who deserve more recognition and attention.
Born into slavery in Tennessee, he escaped to Canada (where slavery was outlawed) in 1834 and moved to Rochester in 1837 and then to Syracuse in 1841. He became a teacher and then a minister with the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. An eloquent speaker, he used his sermons and public presentations to advocate abolition and resistance to slaveholders and to urge enslaved people to escape. Loguen had an apartment in his Syracuse home for freedom seekers and identified himself as “Underground Railroad Agent.” Loguen assisted more than 1,500 enslaved Black people to freedom, earning the informal title “King of the Underground Railroad” in Syracuse. [Read more…] about Syracuse Hero Jermain Loguen, Abolition & The Jerry Rescue
Crystal Eastman and New York’s Workers’ Compensation Law
Crystal Eastman (1881-1928) deserves more attention from historians. “In the early twentieth century, Crystal Eastman was one of the most conspicuous Progressive reformers in America,” says Amy Aronson, in her biography Crystal Eastman: A Revolutionary Life. “Her militant suffragism, insistent antimilitarism, gregarious internationalism, support of the Russian Revolution, and uncompromising feminism, led some in the press to brand her notorious.” Yet, “today she is less known than might be expected, especially given the rarity of a woman with such wide political influence and her continuing international legacy in so many high-profile struggles.”
This extraordinary progressive activist was a multi-issue advocate, an energetic researcher, a prolific writer, and a talented speaker. Much of her work was aimed at assembling evidence on issues and conditions, persuading others to act on that evidence, and showing them the path forward. Much of what she did was behind-the-scenes, setting up others for success and giving them the credit. Her role in creating New York’s workers’ compensation program, the first such state program in the nation, in 1910, is largely unknown. [Read more…] about Crystal Eastman and New York’s Workers’ Compensation Law
Bruce Dearstyne: Making Use of New York’s Usable Past
New York, the nation’s historically most important state, has a lot of history worth exploring and sharing more extensively. That history is particularly useful for perspective on current critical public issues.
Many of these are discussed in a historical vacuum, as if they have never been considered before. In fact they have, and history is a good place to start the discussion because it provides parallels, precedents, and perspectives. [Read more…] about Bruce Dearstyne: Making Use of New York’s Usable Past