Leaders of the founding of the United States who called for American liberty are scrutinized for enslaving Black people themselves: George Washington consistently refused to recognize the freedom of those who escaped his Mount Vernon plantation. And we have long needed a history of the founding that fully includes Black Americans in the Revolutionary protests, the war, and the debates over slavery and freedom that followed. [Read more…] about Liberty and Slavery in the Birth of a Nation, 1765-1795
Field of Corpses: Arthur St. Clair & the Death of an American Army
November 4th, 1791 was a black day in American history. General Arthur St. Clair’s army encountered an Indigenous military force in what is now western Ohio.
In just three hours at what is known as St. Clair’s defeat, the Battle of the Wabash, or the Battle of a Thousand Slain, St. Clair’s force sustained the greatest loss ever inflicted on the United States Army by Native Americans — a total nearly three times larger than that incurred in the more famous Custer fight of 1876. [Read more…] about Field of Corpses: Arthur St. Clair & the Death of an American Army
Washington Project 2023 Student Videos
The Washington Project 2023, a special video presentation by students from the Hudson Valley, is airing on YouTube. The program, consisting of individually created theatrical and musical performance pieces, will feature interpretations of historic events that took place while General George Washington was headquartered in Newburgh. These pieces, written by the students themselves, allows them to interpret history in a contemporary and meaningful way. [Read more…] about Washington Project 2023 Student Videos
Surviving the Valley Forge Winter of 1778
In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World, historian Ricardo Herrera explores the winter at Valley Forge with details form his book, Feeding Washington’s Army: Surviving the Valley Forge Winter of 1778 (Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2022). [Read more…] about Surviving the Valley Forge Winter of 1778
US, NYS Continues To Honor Slavers, Racists, Traitors and Scoundrels
In 2023, the United States Military Academy will remove 13 Confederate symbols on its West Point campus. They include a portrait of Robert E. Lee dressed in a Confederate uniform, a stone bust of Lee, who was superintendent of West Point before the Civil War, and a bronze plaque with an image of a hooded figure and the words “Ku Klux Klan.”
Art displayed in the United States Capitol building in Washington, DC, still includes images of 141 enslavers and 13 Confederates who went to war against the country. A study by the Washington Post found that more than one-third of the statues and portraits in the Capitol building honor enslavers or Confederates and at least six more honor possible enslavers where evidence is disputed. [Read more…] about US, NYS Continues To Honor Slavers, Racists, Traitors and Scoundrels
December 25th: The Continental Army Crosses The Delaware River
On December 25th, 1776, General George Washington led the Continental Army across the Delaware River in a late-night surprise attack on Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey.
A bold strike on Christmas night, Washington’s Crossing was a source of desperately needed momentum and a major morale boost for a Continental Army that had endured a brutal year and was on the brink of defeat. [Read more…] about December 25th: The Continental Army Crosses The Delaware River
Washington’s Revenge: The 1777 New Jersey Campaign
In late August 1776, a badly defeated Continental Army retreated from Long Island to Manhattan. By early November, George Washington’s inexperienced army withdrew further into New Jersey and, by the end of the year, into Pennsylvania. During this dark night of the American Revolution — “the times that try men’s souls” — Washington began developing the strategy that would win the war. [Read more…] about Washington’s Revenge: The 1777 New Jersey Campaign
Revolutionary Thanks: America’s First National Thanksgiving Holiday
America’s first national Thanksgiving holiday was declared by the Continental Congress to commemorate the victory of the American army of General Horatio Gates over British forces commanded by General John Burgoyne in Saratoga, New York on October 17, 1777.
The triumph at Saratoga, America’s turning point in the eight-year War of Independence was the first time in world history an entire British army had been captured. What’s more, the victory reversed a long string of humiliating defeats for the 13 rebellious colonies, including the loss of the revolutionary capital in Philadelphia. [Read more…] about Revolutionary Thanks: America’s First National Thanksgiving Holiday
How Washington’s Army Survived Valley Forge
This week on The Historians Podcast, Ricardo Herrera the author of Feeding Washington’s Army: Surviving the Valley Forge Winter of 1778 (Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2022).
The army needed to feed itself and prevent starvation or dispersal during the long encampment. Herrera brings to light the army’s herculean efforts to feed itself, support local and Continental governments, and challenge the British Army during the American Revolution. [Read more…] about How Washington’s Army Survived Valley Forge
Simeon DeWitt: America’s Surveyor General
Tjerck Claeszen DeWitt immigrated to New Amsterdam (now New York City) from Grootholt in Zunterlant in 1656. Grootholt means Great Wood and Zunterland was probably located on the southern border of East Friesland, a German territory on the North Sea only ten miles from the most northerly province of the Netherlands.
By 1657, Tjerck DeWitt married Barber (Barbara) Andrieszen (also Andriessen) in the New Amsterdam Dutch Church and moved to Beverwyck (now Albany). While in Beverwyck, he purchased a house. At this time Albany contained 342 houses and about 1,000 residents, about 600 of whom were members of the Dutch Church. [Read more…] about Simeon DeWitt: America’s Surveyor General