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 – pdf to doc. 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,1775. AHMC – Dickinson, John
This 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 with 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.
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. 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. Read more →
The 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. Read more →
One of my favorite things about working at The Hudson River Valley Institute is the wide variety of random (though usually regional) questions that we receive by phone and email. (The answer to the most frequently asked question is still “Bannerman’s Island.”
Recently, the random question came from within Marist College: “Can you get us a boat for graduation?” This had first occurred serendipitously in 2009 when The Half Moon was sailing past during the ceremony as part of the Quadricentennial events. Last year, the college worked with the Beacon Sloop Club to bring the Woody Guthrie for the day.
This year, I reached out to Engineer Jessica DuLong and our friends aboard the historic fireboat John J. Harvey– the stars aligned, even though the rain clouds never cleared, and the Class of 2013 was treated to a full salute of the ship’s water cannons as they were dismissed. Read more →
Olympia Brown made U.S. history in the North Country 150 years ago, early this summer. She became the first woman to become a fully ordained minister with a degree from a regularly established theological school. Olympia was ordained in the Universalist Church of Malone by the St. Lawrence Association of Universalists on June 25, 1863 and graduated from the St. Lawrence University Theological School in Canton two weeks later, on July 9, 1863.
Throughout the remainder of her 91-year-old life, she was an outspoken Universalist preacher and a fearless campaigner for suffrage and equal rights for women. Olympia marched, lectured, testified, published, protested and picketed a myriad of times from coast to coast. Read more →