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
A hundred years ago the Edgar Allan Poe Museum was founded in Richmond, Virginia. To celebrate the anniversary author and preeminent Poe collector Susan Jaffe Tane donated the pocket watch that Poe carried on him whilst writing his short story The Tell-Tale Heart shortly before he moved to the city of New York where he spent his last years.
In this tale the murderous narrator compares the thumping of his victim’s heart to the ticking of a clock. [Read more…] about Edgar Allan Poe’s European Legacy
What was everyday life like during the American War for Independence?
We’ll investigate answers to this question by exploring the histories of occupied Philadelphia and Yorktown, and how civilians, those left on the home front in both of those places, experienced the war and its armies.
These episodes will allow us to see how the war impacted those who remained at home. They will also allow us to better understand the messy confusion and uncertainty Americans experienced in between the big battles and events of the American Revolution. [Read more…] about Experiences of Revolution: Occupied Philadelphia
Solomon Northup, the free black man who was kidnapped from Saratoga Springs and sold into slavery (as portrayed in the film 12 Years a Slave), was known locally as a good fiddler. Northup probably mostly played at dances, and there is no evidence that he played at any of Saratoga’s posh hotels.
But as a black musician, Northup probably could have found acceptance in such venues, because the way had been paved by Francis “Frank” Johnson. Johnson, a black resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, performed with his band during many summers at the best hotels in Saratoga. [Read more…] about Black Musician Francis Johnson at Saratoga, 1822-1843
With the demise of the Philadelphia based Bank of the United States, the financial center of the country shifted to the privately owned state chartered financial firms on Wall Street.
As the nation recovered from the severe depression in the Panic of 1837, President James K. Polk’s policy of Manifest Destiny took root and significant westward settlement of Indigenous land expanded in the 1840s. Fortified by the Erie Canal and its Canal Fund, Wall Street financial institutions became strongly influenced by four factors: the invention of the telegraph; the development of railroads; the discovery of gold and other precious minerals in the West (particularly the California Gold Rush of 1849); and the arrival of significant numbers of Jewish and Irish immigrants in the city of New York. [Read more…] about Wall St History: 19th Century Growth of Investment Banking
At the time construction of the Erie Canal was begun in 1817, Philadelphia (the second largest city in the United States) was the nation’s financial center. Although there were successful banks in New York, Philadelphia, one of America’s leading seaports, had been the capital during the American Revolution and of the nation (1790 to 1800), and so was considered the financial center of the country.
This is not to say there was not some rivalry between financial institutions located on Wall Street in New York and Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, but the latter was the site of the first bank established in the nation in 1781, the Bank of North America, and more importantly became the site of the First Bank of the United States, which Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton had promoted. [Read more…] about Wall Street History: The Bank War & The Shift of Financial Power to New York
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In 1844 America was in a state of deep unrest, grappling with xenophobia, racial, and ethnic tension on a national scale that feels singular to our time, but echoes the earliest anti-immigrant sentiments of the country.
In that year Philadelphia was set aflame by a group of Protestant ideologues — avowed nativists — who were seeking social and political power rallied by charisma and fear of the Irish immigrant menace. [Read more…] about Fires of Philadelphia: A New Book On The 1844 Nativist Riots
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Vivian Bruce Conger, the Robert Ryan Professor in the Humanities at Ithaca College, joins us to explore the two great women that Benjamin Franklin had standing behind and beside him: his wife, Deborah Read Franklin, and his daughter, Sally Franklin Bache. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/022