Crossing the Delaware

Happy 4th of July!

I think one of the coolest things about living in New York City is the close proximity of everything you’ve ever learned about in early American history.

For example: Ann heard about a great flea market in Lambertville about a 1.5 hour drive from NYC, so one weekend we rented a car to go check it out.  It was a beautiful drive.  In fact if you drive about about 40 minutes west out of the nasty, industrialized, polluted parts of New Jersey directly across from NYC, you can actually see why New Jersey is the Garden State (and I always thought they were just being sarcastic!).

As we are getting close to the market, we noticed that we were driving parallel to a rather large river.  We pondered briefly what it might be, but being from Texas and California neither of us knew and service was sketchy at best so we couldn’t look it up.

As we’re walking around the stalls, curiosity got the better of me and I asked one of the locals.

The Delaware River.

THE Delaware River?!?!?

She looked at me like I was crazy….yes, Pennsylvania’s right over there.

I mean, we knew we weren’t far as we were heading to Philly after the flea market (which is the Golden Nugget if you’re wondering), we just didn’t realize it was so close.  As we departed the Golden Nugget and continued to follow the Delaware River en route to Philly, we see a sign: Washington’s Crossing.

THE Washington’s Crossing?!?!?  The one immortalized by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze and is considered to be a pivotal turning point in the American Revolution?  Surely not.  But yes, indeed, Siri confirmed it (once we got to the interstate and had better service).

In case you’re a bit fuzzy on the details of The Christmas Night Crossing, Mount Vernon has a lot of information on it, like:

  • Washington’s aim was to conduct a surprise attack upon a Hessian garrison of roughly 1,400 soldiers located in and around Trenton, New Jersey.
  • Washington hoped that a quick victory at Trenton would bolster sagging morale in his army and encourage more men to join the ranks of the Continentals come the new year–and it worked.  The stunning victory served to rebuild American morale after a summer of defeats and setbacks.
  • After several councils of war, General George Washington set the date for the river crossing for Christmas night 1776.
  • The Delaware River is less than 300 yards (268m) wide at the point where Washington’s army crossed
  • It took the American army roughly 4 hours to march from the river crossing site to the outskirts of Trenton
  • Temperatures for the crossing ranged from 29 degrees to 33 degrees, with brisk winds coming out of the north east.
  • Future US President James Monroe crossed with the American forces and was wounded at the Battle of Trenton.
  • Washington’s attack mortally wounded Col. Johann Rall, the Hessian commander, killed 22, wounded another 83, and led to the capture of more than 890 Hessian soldiers.

If you’re interested, the Washington Crossing Historical Park does a Christmas Day reenactment of Washington’s Crossing.  And if you can’t/don’t want to make it, but do want to watch, they have kindly posted the entire ceremony on YouTube (please note, it is the FULL ceremony, not a 3 minute video highlight reel…)

Originally, that was going to be my post, however, since it IS July 4th and we did go to Philadelphia, I feel like I need to include some pictures of Philly as well.  I mean, it was the location of the First and Second Continental Congresses, the Liberty Bell, and where the Declaration of Independence was penned (along with a whole lot of other stuff not mentioned)!

On a side note, Philly is a very dog friendly place–even to the Darling Princess Adelaide, whom most New Yorkers find scary–so we stopped a lot on our walk through downtown Philly so people could say hi and pet them!

Unfortunately, we were too late to get tickets for the tour and Liberty Bell–so we just wandered around for awhile, just taking in the history of the place!

Happy 4th!

 

Independence For All Sunday Comics

On this day a long time ago (241 years to be exact) the Second Continental Congress voted to declare independence of the Thirteen Colonies from the Kingdom of Britain.  The vote passed unanimously and two days later the Declaration of Independence was approved.

In an effort to find something humorous to post today honoring our founding fathers I found this: Which Founding Father Is Your Soulmate by Buzzfeed and took it because, well, procrastination.

Apparently my Founding Father Soulmate is Benjamin Franklin.  Not that I’m complaining, I mean, I’m all for seeing a nice bundle of his faces in my wallet 😉  But it did have me wondering about the validity of this quiz when I came across this:

ben franklin

As such, I must concede–without further ado or argument–that Ben Franklin is definitely my Founding Father Soulmate!

Should you be in the procrastinating mood and take the quiz, I’d LOOOOVE to hear who your FFS is 🙂

One last note of irony about today: the day after the vote was approved, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha in the History of America.”  Alas, poor Yorick John…

July 4, 1776

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

lady liberty

for a full transcript of The Declaration of Independence, go to The National Archives

Happy Birthday Texas!

texas

We interrupt our regularly scheduled posts about my Fabulous Not Forty Birthday trips to wish Texans everywhere a Happy Independence Day!  On this day in 1836, Texas declared its independence from Mexico. The Texas Declaration was written in less than a day during (although not at) the battle of The Alamo, drew a lot of influence from the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and was signed by 59 Texans.

It has some powerful, yet eloquent verbiage, so I thought that in honor of my beloved Texas on its birthday, I’d share it with you.  On a side note: something tells me that General Santa Anna might have liked being called an evil, oppressive ruler.  But maybe not, who knows? I certainly didn’t know the guy!  Also, I’m not sure why (perhaps a typo or a different author?) wording suddenly switches from “it has” to “it hath” at the end…but it does-eth.

Finally, here’s the website where I got the information (along with a general reminder that if I pull pictures from the interwebs, in theory you can click on them to be taken to the website where they were found–in reality, I’m exceptionally technologically challenged so if you notice it not working, please let me know!).

Happy Birthday Texas!

texas declaration

The Unanimous
Declaration of Independence
made by the
Delegates of the People of Texas
in General Convention
at the town of Washington
on the 2nd day of March 1836.

When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.

When the Federal Republican Constitution of their country, which they have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of their government has been forcibly changed, without their consent, from a restricted federative republic, composed of sovereign states, to a consolidated central military despotism, in which every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, the everready minions of power, and the usual instruments of tyrants.

When, long after the spirit of the constitution has departed, moderation is at length so far lost by those in power, that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms themselves of the constitution discontinued, and so far from their petitions and remonstrances being regarded, the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons, and mercenary armies sent forth to force a new government upon them at the point of the bayonet.

When, in consequence of such acts of malfeasance and abdication on the part of the government, anarchy prevails, and civil society is dissolved into its original elements. In such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self-preservation, the inherent and inalienable rights of the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases, enjoins it as a right towards themselves, and a sacred obligation to their posterity, to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their future welfare and happiness.

Nations, as well as individuals, are amenable for their acts to the public opinion of mankind. A statement of a part of our grievances is therefore submitted to an impartial world, in justification of the hazardous but unavoidable step now taken, of severing our political connection with the Mexican people, and assuming an independent attitude among the nations of the earth. 

The Mexican government, by its colonization laws, invited and induced the Anglo-American population of Texas to colonize its wilderness under the pledged faith of a written constitution, that they should continue to enjoy that constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America. 

In this expectation they have been cruelly disappointed, inasmuch as the Mexican nation has acquiesced in the late changes made in the government by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers us the cruel alternative, either to abandon our homes, acquired by so many privations, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood.

It has sacrificed our welfare to the state of Coahuila, by which our interests have been continually depressed through a jealous and partial course of legislation, carried on at a far distant seat of government, by a hostile majority, in an unknown tongue, and this too, notwithstanding we have petitioned in the humblest terms for the establishment of a separate state government, and have, in accordance with the provisions of the national constitution, presented to the general Congress a republican constitution, which was, without just cause, contemptuously rejected.

It incarcerated in a dungeon, for a long time, one of our citizens, for no other cause but a zealous endeavor to procure the acceptance of our constitution, and the establishment of a state government.

It has failed and refused to secure, on a firm basis, the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.

It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.

It has suffered the military commandants, stationed among us, to exercise arbitrary acts of oppression and tyrrany, thus trampling upon the most sacred rights of the citizens, and rendering the military superior to the civil power.

It has dissolved, by force of arms, the state Congress of Coahuila and Texas, and obliged our representatives to fly for their lives from the seat of government, thus depriving us of the fundamental political right of representation.

It has demanded the surrender of a number of our citizens, and ordered military detachments to seize and carry them into the Interior for trial, in contempt of the civil authorities, and in defiance of the laws and the constitution.

It has made piratical attacks upon our commerce, by commissioning foreign desperadoes, and authorizing them to seize our vessels, and convey the property of our citizens to far distant ports for confiscation.

It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a national religion, calculated to promote the temporal interest of its human functionaries, rather than the glory of the true and living God.

It has demanded us to deliver up our arms, which are essential to our defence, the rightful property of freemen, and formidable only to tyrannical governments.

It has invaded our country both by sea and by land, with intent to lay waste our territory, and drive us from our homes; and has now a large mercenary army advancing, to carry on against us a war of extermination.

It has, through its emissaries, incited the merciless savage, with the tomahawk and scalping knife, to massacre the inhabitants of our defenseless frontiers.

It hath been, during the whole time of our connection with it, the contemptible sport and victim of successive military revolutions, and hath continually exhibited every characteristic of a weak, corrupt, and tyrranical government.

These, and other grievances, were patiently borne by the people of Texas, untill they reached that point at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. We then took up arms in defence of the national constitution. We appealed to our Mexican brethren for assistance. Our appeal has been made in vain. Though months have elapsed, no sympathetic response has yet been heard from the Interior. We are, therefore, forced to the melancholy conclusion, that the Mexican people have acquiesced in the destruction of their liberty, and the substitution therfor of a military government; that they are unfit to be free, and incapable of self government.

The necessity of self-preservation, therefore, now decrees our eternal political separation.

We, therefore, the delegates with plenary powers of the people of Texas, in solemn convention assembled, appealing to a candid world for the necessities of our condition, do hereby resolve and declare, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, Sovereign, and independent republic, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes which properly belong to independent nations; and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the decision of the Supreme arbiter of the destinies of nations.

Richard Ellis, President
of the Convention and Delegate
from Red River.

  • Charles B. Stewart
  • Tho. Barnett
  • John S.D. Byrom
  • Francis Ruis
  • J. Antonio Navarro
  • Jesse B. Badgett
  • Wm. D. Lacy
  • William Menifee
  • Jn. Fisher
  • Matthew Caldwell
  • William Motley
  • Lorenzo de Zavala
  • Stephen H. Everett
  • George W. Smyth
  • Elijah Stapp
  • Claiborne West
  • Wm. B. Scates
  • A.B. Hardin
  • J.W. Burton
  • Thos. J. Gazley
  • R.M. Coleman
  • Sterling C. Robertson
  • Benj. Briggs Goodrich
  • G.W. Barnett
  • James G. Swisher
  • Jesse Grimes
  • Sam P. Carson
  • A. Briscoe
  • J.B. Woods
  • James Collinsworth
  • Edwin Waller
  • Asa Brigham
  • Geo. C. Childress
  • Rob. Potter
  • Thomas Jefferson Rusk
  • Chas. S. Taylor
  • John S. Roberts
  • Robert Hamilton
  • Collin McKinney
  • Albert H. Latimer
  • James Power
  • Sam Houston
  • David Thomas
  • Edwd. Conrad
  • Martin Parmer
  • Edwin O. Legrand
  • Stephen W. Blount
  • Jms. Gaines
  • Wm. Clark, Jr.
  • Sydney O. Pennington
  • Wm. Carrol Crawford
  • Jno. Turner
  • S. Rhoads Fisher
  • John W. Moore
  • John W. Bower
  • Saml. A. Maverick (from Bejar)
  • H.S. Kimble, Secretary
tx independence signatures

Independence.

A few days ago there was a spectacular storm that swept through New York City.  Naturally, social media of every shape and form was quickly filled with stunning pictures, like the one below.  If you’d like to see more of this storm, click on the photo and you’ll get to see a lot of amazing photos.  But this one–this is my favorite.

20140704-155700-57420246.jpg

Photo credit: @albapro/Instagram

It is no big secret that seeing Lady Liberty is my favorite thing about living in New York City.  Some days, it is the only thing I like about it.  She serves as a reminder of the freedom, the liberty and the hope of all who call America home.  I am lucky in that I am reminded twice a day of the struggles that we as a country had to overcome; it is not something I take for granted.  Sure we have a lot of issues and an entirely new set of struggles that we face, but we face them together.

The poignancy of this photo is especially symbolic today.  On July 2, 1776 our Congress approved a resolution that would grant us independence from British rule.  Two days later, our Declaration of Independence was signed, proclaiming our sovereignty to the world.

Engraved onto a plaque in The Statue’s pedestal is the sonnet The New Colossus, written by Emma Lazarus (as you will remember from an earlier post, the original Colossus was in Rhodes).  So before I go enjoy my beer, brats, and watermelon while waiting for the fireworks to start, I thought I’d leave you with this powerful sonnet:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”