Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Faneuil Hall Boston, the Cradle of Liberty.

May 25, 1742, the grasshopper weather vane was built by master craftsman Shem Drowne.
Faneuil Hall Boston, the Cradle of Liberty, has a greater historical interest than any other building in the United States, save Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It was built at the expense of Peter Faneuil, a wealthy merchant of French descent, and given by him to the town. The building was completed in September 1742, with the people voting that it be called 'Faneuil Hall'.
Faneuil Hall, near the waterfront and today's Government Center, in Boston, Massachusetts, has been a marketplace and a meeting hall since 1742. It was the site of several speeches by Samuel Adams, James Otis, and others encouraging independence from Great Britain, and is now part of Boston National Historical Park and a well known stop on the Freedom Trail.
In 1768, Thomas Drowne inserts the following note inside a copper container in the grasshopper's vest or stomach area: The headline reads "Food for the Grasshopper" and the note continues "Shem Drowne made it, May 25, 1742. To my brethren and fellow grasshoppers, Fell in ye year 1753 (1755) Nov. 13, early in ye morning by a great earthquake by my old Master above. Again, like to have met with Utter Ruin by Fire, by hopping Timely from my Public Station, came of the broken bones and much Bruised. Cured and Fixed. Old Master's son Thomas Drowne June 28, 1768, and Though I will promise to Discharge my office, yet I shall vary as ye wind."
During the American Revolutionary War, a challenge issued by Colonial soldiers was: "What sits atop Faneuil Hall?" If the swift reply were not, "Why, the grasshopper, of course", there would be trouble.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

Mayflower : A Story of Courage, Community, and War
I thought I knew about the voyage of the Mayflower, But when I started to explore what happened when an old leaky ship arrived off the coast of New England in the fall of 1620, I soon realized that I, along with most Americans, knew nothing at all about the real people with whom the story of our country begins.

The oft-told tale of how the Pilgrims and the Indians celebrated the First Thanksgiving does not do justice to the history of the Plymouth Colony. Instead of an inspiring tableau of tranquil cooperation, the Pilgrims’ first half-century in America was more of a passion play in which vibrant, tragic, self-serving and heroic figures struggled to preserve a precarious peace -- until that peace erupted into one of the deadliest wars ever fought on American soil. The English fatalities were catastrophic, but the rebelling Indians were virtually obliterated as a people. The promise of the First Thanksgiving had given way to the horror of total war.

A hundred years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, this culminating event – King Philip’s War – brought into disturbing focus the issues of race, violence, religious identity, and economic opportunity that came to define America’s inexorable push west. But as the Pilgrims came to understand, war was not inevitable. It would be left to their children and grandchildren to discover the terrifying enormity of what is lost when two peoples give up on the difficult work of living together.

More than 375 years later, in a world that is growing more complicated and dangerous by the day, the story of the Mayflower still has much to teach us