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Before the Declaration of Independence…

Portrait of John Dickinson published by R. Wilkinson, May 1783. PR 52 Portrait File

Portrait of John Dickinson published by R. Wilkinson, May 1783. PR 52 Portrait File

The line between historical obscurity and fame is often a fine one. It’s not surprising then that on July 4th no one thinks about the most important document produced by Congress before the Declaration of Independence: the Declaration of the Causes and of the Necessity of Taking Up Arms. As its title implies, it was a justification for armed resistance to England’s abusive treatment of the colonies, with a chronicle of outstanding grievances.

Like many such historic texts written “by committee” its authorship has been the subject of some curiosity. Roger L. Kemp offers the now accepted explanation in Documents of American Democracy: A Collection of Essential Works. On June 26, 1775, after Congress had scrapped the first draft by John Rutledge of South Carolina, it appointed to the committee Thomas Jefferson and John Dickinson, of Pennsylvania. Ultimately, Dickinson wrote the final version, incorporating content from a previous draft by Jefferson. Though that draft is held by the Library of Congress, an original draft, in Dickinson’s hand, resides at the New-York Historical Society.

The first page of Dickinson's draft of the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms, 1775. AHMC - Dickinson, John

The first page of Dickinson’s draft,1775. AHMC – Dickinson, John

Perhaps influenced to Continue reading

Campaign to Preserve NYC Carnegie Libraries Launched

Closed LibraryThis year the Historic Districts Council launched a new campaign to combat the potential loss of historic community libraries. The campaign is expected to lead to the nomination of all the New York City Carnegie Libraries to the New York State and National Register of Historic Places.

Listing on the Registers would both provide a variety of incentives for the libraries: they would be eligible for special funding of capital needs, appropriate alterations, renovations or restorations would have the added benefit of guidance from the New York State Office of Historic Preservation (SHPO) and protections: demolitions or serious alterations would be reviewed and discouraged by SHPO, and communities would be given a clear path to weigh in their concerns.

Several of the Carnegies, including Brooklyn’s Macon and Bedford branches, Manhattan’s St. Agnes and 67th Street branches, and the Bronx’s Hunt’s Point and Mott Haven branches have been renovated in recent years, adding state of the art technology while restoring period details and providing improved public access.

The Historic Districts Council is hoping to raise $15,000 to complete the National Register nominations. To Make a donation to the Campaign to Preserve the Carnegie Libraries click here.

Photo: An Elmhurst Carnegie Library opened in 1906 and demolished in 2012.

History And The Regional Economic Development Councils

Regional Econmoic CouncilsHere is some information about the latest round of proposals through the Regional Economic Development Councils. These regional councils provide a vehicle through which history tourist proposals which provide economic development could be submitted.

I would be curious to know if the history community is working with these Regional Development Councils since as everyone knows tourism is big business in New York and Same day payday loans online direct lenders only. People may mistakenly think these councils are only for factories or projects of that nature. As a result the history community may shut itself off from where the real money is. Continue reading

This Weeks Top New York History News

Latest New York History News

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This Weeks New York History Web Highlights

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Olivia Twine: Suffrage and Global Citizenship

suffrage wagonThe sturdy wooden wagon on display in the New York State capital last summer was the centerpiece of an exhibit called “From Seneca Falls to the Supreme Court- New York’s Women Leading the Way.” Unheard of in 1776 and unsecured until 1920, the women’s vote has become critical to candidates’ success.

The suffrage movement of the early 20th century evokes the stamina and discernment needed to address the overwhelming values crisis that’s challenging the American spirit now. Continue reading