Wilson attended two Continental Congresses, signed of the Declaration of Independence, and helped draft the U.S. Constitution. A leading legal theorist, he was one of the first four Associate Justices appointed to the Supreme Court by George Washington. In his capacity as the first professor of law at the College of Philadelphia (later to become the University of Pennsylvania), he taught the first course on the new Constitution to President Washington and his Cabinet in 1789 and 1790. [Read more…] about James Wilson & The US Constitution
One of the world’s first steamboats successfully completed a maiden voyage on the river Clyde in Scotland in 1798. That same year, Chancellor Robert R. Livingston proposed to the New York Legislature that he would develop a new form of public transportation, the steamboat ferry, in return for a monopoly on steam navigation in New York waters. Despite the Legislature’s skepticism that steamboat technology was viable, legislation granting Livingston the monopoly was enacted. [Read more…] about Hudson River Steamboats & Gibbons v. Ogden: 200 Years of the Commerce Clause
Jeremiah J. Austin, Jr. was born in 1819, just 12 years after the first commercial steamboat trip on the Hudson River and two years after construction of the Erie Canal began at Rome, New York. His father Jeremiah J. Austin Sr. was a prominent Albany businessman involved in Hudson River commerce.
After the Erie Canal opened, freight could be transported all the way across the Great Lakes to the entrance to the canal at Buffalo and then along the canal to Albany where it was shipped down the Hudson River to New York Harbor. From there freight could be fairly easily transported to any port on the East Coast, Europe or the Caribbean. [Read more…] about Hudson River Towing: Austin’s Albany & Canal Line
Larger-than-life figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King and, going back further, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Booker T. Washington, functioned as the “celebrities” of the equal rights movement, the public face of the crusade for racial justice.
But outside the spotlight, “bridge figures” such as New Yorker Franklin H. Williams — men and woman unencumbered by the sometimes blinding “star quality” of the Kings and Marshalls while also shunning the divisive tactics of militants such as Bobby Seale, Huey Newton, and Malcolm X — made enormous but often underappreciated contributions. [Read more…] about Franklin Williams: An Unsung Civil Rights Hero
On June 25, 1964, The New York Times reported that thirty New York City public school teachers, most of them women, young, and white, would travel to rural Mississippi to teach African American children in 10th, 11th, and 12th grades for six weeks. While in Mississippi the teachers would live in the homes of Black families and join the families on Sundays in “Negro churches.”
On June 30, 1964, at the end of the school year, eight New York City teachers boarded a bus bound for Memphis, Tennessee where they would receive training before continuing on to Mississippi. Another 23 New York City teachers were expected to join them. [Read more…] about Sandra Adickes: New York City Teacher and Civil Rights Activist
William Paterson was born in County Antrim, Ireland, in 1745. His family immigrated to America when William was two years old. Arriving first at New Castle, Delaware, the family settled for a short time in New London, Connecticut. At first, his father traveled around the country selling tin ware, moving the family several times. He eventually settled in Princeton, New Jersey where he became a merchant and manufacturer of tin goods.
Paterson attended local private schools and eventually the College of New Jersey (Princeton) where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1763 and a master’s degree in 1766. Showing an interest in law, Paterson apprenticed with Richard Stockton, who later signed the Declaration of Independence. Paterson practiced law in New Bromley, South Branch. In 1779, he settled near New Brunswick at Raritan Estate, all in New Jersey. [Read more…] about William Paterson & The Constitution of the United States
Among the more popular and successful of these was the creation of the Public Works Administration (PWA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), jobs programs which were modeled on similar programs in New York State. [Read more…] about Wall Street History: The Great Depression & A New Deal For Working People
This week on The Historians Podcast, Stephen Riegel discusses his book Finding Judge Crater: A Life and Phenomenal Disappearance in Jazz Age NY (USRYC, 2021).
Judge Joseph Crater was a New York State Supreme Court Justice who disappeared in New York City in 1930. [Read more…] about Finding Missing Judge Joseph Crater (Historians Podcast)
Ira Harris was born at Charleston, Montgomery County, NY on May 31st, 1802 to Fredrick Waterman Harris and Lucy Hamilton. When he was six years old, his family moved to Preble, NY where his father became one of the largest landowners in Cortland County.
Harris attended Homer Academy and graduated from Union College in 1824. He studied law for one year in Homer, New York and then moved to Albany where he assisted one of that city’s most highly regarded jurists, Ambrose Spencer. [Read more…] about Albany’s Ira Harris: From Rights Advocate to Lincoln’s Assassination
In the early 1970s, American artists Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz began work on The Caddy Court, a 1966 Dodge van between the front and back ends of a 1978 Cadillac, which reimagines the Supreme Court of the United States in one of its original functions as a “riding circuit” court. [Read more…] about ‘The Caddy Court’ Coming To The Armory Show