THE ROUND TABLE CARRIES ON
THE BROADSIDE resumes regular publication with this December 2017 issue. There was a two-page October issue, featuring Jack Buchanan’s moving tribute to Tom Fleming. Jack edited THE BROADSIDE’s April, June and October issues on a temporary basis after Tom’s health made it impossible for him to continue as editor.
Your new permanent editor, beginning with this issue, is Fred Cookinham, of Revolutionary War walking tour fame.
At the October dinner, Chairman Dave Jacobs proposed a toast to Tom, and a moment of silence for our friend, editor, Program Committee Chairman, and charter member. After almost fifty books published by Tom, it is sad to think that we will see no more from his busy pen.
The October dinner had a better turnout than the previous two.
A WORD FROM YOUR EDITOR ABOUT YOUR EDITOR
Frederick Cookinham, 63, got his BA in American History from Cortland State College in 1976. His MA is from Brooklyn College. He has given walking tours of Manhattan since 1996, while making his living as a proofreader at the Wall Street law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel. He is the author of two books that are mainly about Ayn Rand, but also about New York City and its architecture and public art, and about its role in the American Revolution. He lives in Woodside, Queens with his wife of sixteen years, Belen Negron Cookinham.
OCTOBER SPEAKER: TOM SHACHTMAN ON OUR FRENCH ALLIES
The speaker at the October dinner was Tom Shachtman, author of “How the French Saved America.” In his slide show talk, Mr. Shachtman demonstrated that premise in detail. He showed the contributions to American independence made by not only the well-known Lafayette, but those made by Beaumarchais, de Fleury, Duportail, Vergennes, D’Estaing, Rochambeau, De Grasse, Bougainville, and a Spaniard, Saavedra, and a Pole, Kosciusko. And many others. Some of these names might be new even to some Rev aficionados, or at least some of the stories connected to these names, but students new to the field will meet these characters for the first time and gain an appreciation of France’s role in the struggle from Shachtman’s book. “Role,” that is, but not a complete takeover. Some like to shake you up by claiming that the French won the whole war by themselves, while older generations of Americans may have leaned too far on the opposite side and failed to give France enough credit. A student who is just becoming aware of the controversy will benefit from a fully detailed book like this on the subject. What was France’s motivation in helping America? Did France and Congress treat each other fairly? And most importantly, how was all this connected with “The Marriage of Figaro”? Thus began our 2017-2018 season.
New York 1 TV reported on November 13 that the City is hoping to move some city offices to, and otherwise rehabilitate, the desolate neighborhood of East New York, Brooklyn. The big bus barn there is the site of a tavern that figured in the Battle of Brooklyn, August 27, 1776. The tavern keeper and his family were rousted out of bed by the Redcoats, held at gunpoint, and forced to show them the path through the dense nearby woods. Getting his army through those woods allowed General Howe to get behind the American positions on Gowanus Heights and win the day come morning. A plaque for the site would be nice, and some foot traffic to see it.
EVACUATION DAY WALKING TOUR TV PREVIEW
New York 1 may also show a preview next week of Fraunces Tavern’s® annual walking tour of “Evacuation Day,” which the Tavern will offer twice, on Saturday and Sunday, November 25 and 26. Two reporters are pitching the idea to their editor, so it may or may not happen. Modesty prevents your editor from naming the tour guide. You must go to the Fraunces Tavern® Museum website to reserve a spot on that tour.
Late notice: Alas, the reporter’s boss did not green light the story. But maybe next year, now that the seed has been planted….
AMERICA’S ROAD FROM REVOLUTION TO INDEPENDENCE Exhibition Review by Lynne Saginaw
Friday, November 3 saw the opening of the latest exhibition at the Luman Reed Galleries on the second floor. Mapping America’s Road capitalizes on the NYHS’s own holdings (most notably a hand-colored original print of the Boston Massacre by Paul Revere) in addition to substantial borrowing from the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Map Center.
What impressed this first-day viewer most was the exactitude employed the British military mapmakers and engineers. As the text points out, in addition to military applications, accurate maps served as a political buttress to British claims over those of the French in the tussle for ownership of North America. If you’ve seen it and mapped it, you own it, or so the argument went.
There is also considerable artistic merit to many of the maps. On view until March 18, 2018, this exhibit, impeccably presented, is well worth a close look for students of the period, like us. And to help with that close examination, the NYHS obligingly provides hand magnifiers in every gallery. My particular favorite was not a map at all, but a little gem of an almanac, hand written and carefully colored by a Hessian soldier, Bernard de Wiederhold. Maps depicting the course of the war, including Bunker Hill, Saratoga and Yorktown bring us forward to victory, and examples of cartography following the adoption of the Constitution were important to the creation of an American national identity.
These are rare and handsome specimens of the engraver’s art, uncommon and beautiful in this photo-shopped age.
The New-York Historical Society is located at 77th Street and Central Park West. Open Tuesday through Sunday, and holiday Mondays. Hours are subject to change. Call 212-873-3400 for specific information.
TV’S GEORGE WASHINGTON TO RE-ENACT TOAST AT FRAUNCES
On December 3, Fraunces Tavern will offer a program called “Washington’s Farewell,” marking the December 4, 1783 party in the Long Room where the Commander in Chief bade farewell to such officers as were still in New York after the British evacuated on November 25. TV star Ian Kahn, who plays General Washington on the AMC TV series “Turn,” will be there, along with Dan Shippey, historical advisor to the show, to re-enact His Excellency’s emotional last drink with his officers.
NEW PROGRAM CHAIR DR. JOANNE GRASSO
Twenty-year Round Table member Dr. Joanne Grasso is our new Program Chair, stepping into the shoes of Tom Fleming and Jack Buchanan.
Dr. Grasso has taught American History for 25 years. She is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor of History and Political Science. She is a veteran of the travel industry, and has used that position to travel to many historic sites. She is a native Long Islander. Her first book, The American Revolution on Long Island, was published in 2016. Her current book, George Washington’s 1790 Grand Tour of Long Island, will appear in 2018. She is already working on a third book, this one dealing with women of the American Revolution. She is a member of the DAR.
As Program Chair, Dr. Grasso’s executive abilities are challenged in managing her crack committee of, er, one.
How does she track down authors to address the Round Table? Dr. Grasso draws on her connections in academia and publishing for possible speakers. She grills the Board of the Round Table. She scours the list of One Hundred Most Popular Books on the American Revolution. She considers past speakers – Are they working on another book?
Not every author can cut it as a Round Table speaker. The candidate must be prepared to give a Power Point demonstration, and must have personality. The Round Table expects to be entertained and charmed as well as taught.
Still, Fortune has smiled and produced, already, speakers for not only December, but for February, April and June. And those speakers’ topics turned out to cover all three regions of Revolutionary America: New England, the Middle States, and the South. So this season will have an overall structure to it.
DAR PROMOTES CONSTITUTION WEEK
Constitution Week was September 17 to 21. The Daughters of the American Revolution petitioned Congress for the establishment of this Week in 1955. The DAR chapter in Livingston County, in western New York State, was active on this front this year, getting a story about Constitution Week in their local paper, just to show that it does not all happen in the big cities.
Look at the list of chapter names on the DAR website. You will see chapters named after revolutionary era women, such as Jane McCrae, and Dutch names, here in New York State, the former colony of Nieuw Nederland. And also Indigenous names. The Livingston County chapter calls itself the Ska-Hase-Ga-O Chapter. That means “Once a Long Creek.” Must have dried up. That chapter has twenty-five members and meets in the town of Lima. Nationwide, the DAR has 185,000 members in three thousand chapters. There are eight chapters in New York City alone. Historically, the SAR tracks the DAR in membership at a rate of one to ten. When the DAR had ten thousand members, the SAR had one thousand. When the DAR had one hundred thousand members, the SAR had ten thousand. Of course, you don’t have to be a descendant of a revolutionary to be fascinated by our revolution. For fascinatees, there is the Round Table.
On your editor’s walking tours, I have heard people bristle angrily at the mere mention of the DAR. Those people have heard only one thing in their entire lives about the DAR: the Marion Anderson incident. But the DAR has changed with the times. There are black members now. The group has for years given scholarships to students, black and white.
People who have interesting family histories, connected with the American Revolution or any other historical topic, should be seen, and should see themselves, as living teaching tools, able to make history come alive for kids.
BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS
Jon Carriel on American Sanctuary: Mutiny, Martyrdom, and National Identity in the Age of Revolution, by A. Roger Ekirch
Our Treasurer and frequent book reviewer (and an author himself!) Jon Carriel reviewed American Sanctuary in October. It was published this year by Pantheon Books. $30.00 hardcover, and curiously, no paperback. But all 320 pages are available as an e-book and as an audiobook. Illustrations! Maps! Notes! Index! All the stuff we like to see in a book.
The author teaches history at Virginia Tech.
The book has a complex plot – always a welcome surprise in nonfiction. The British Navy suffered its bloodiest mutiny ever in 1797. This led to an extradition in Charleston in 1799, and that, in turn, affected the election of 1800. It seems that one of the mutineers escaped to America, but was later extradited and hanged, with President John Adams’s blessing. Anyone critical of that blessing risked arrest under Adams’s Sedition Act. The mutineer’s martyrdom and anger at the Sedition Act may have helped defeat Adams’s re-election bid.
And best of all, this is a story never before told to the non-specialist public.
Jon finds the book fascinating, off-beat, and very well told.
Jon tells me that he has revised his review for general readers and submitted it to the Journal of the American Revolution, which has promised to feature it in a forthcoming issue. Other Round Table reviewers might want to get “double duty” for their pieces in the same manner.
At the December meeting, Jean Hayter will review The Loyal Son: The War in Benjamin Franklin’s House, by Daniel Mark Epstein.
YOU WON’T HAVE WASHINGTON TO KICK AROUND ANYMORE!
Your editor is now reading the 2006 book In The Name of the Father: Washington’s Legacy, Slavery, and the Making of a Nation, by Francois Furstenberg. Writing about GW’s Farewell Address, Furstenberg writes that Washington’s first draft, “given the bitter experiences of the last four years, added more heated warnings against partisanship and foreign intrigue. This draft was in many respects a product of the criticism Washington had received in his second term. His remarks were largely defensive in tone, occasionally verging on self-pity. To the modern reader they have a distinctly Nixonian flair. Hamilton removed the most exaggerated pathos….”
Well, now I’ve seen everything. It’s not often that His Excellency gets compared to Tricky Dick!
NEW YORK STATE MEMORIAL REVS UP Lynne “Lois Lane” Saginaw, Star Reporter
Work is set to begin next year in upstate New York for a memorial on the exact spot where a British general turned over his sword to his American counterpart after the Battles of Saratoga during the American Revolution.
A ceremonial groundbreaking was held just outside the village of Schuylerville on Wednesday, the 240th anniversary of the British surrender on October 17, 1777. The $1 million dollar memorial is to be built where British General John Burgoyne surrendered his sword to American General Horatio Gates.
The project will include pathways, information about the site and a sculpture depicting Burgoyne's surrender. This intelligence comes to us from the Associated Press.
ARCHTOBER AT MORRIS-JUMEL
On Saturday, October 28, Fred Cookinham led about twenty architects and architecture fans on a tour inside and outside the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights. This is an historic site in upper Manhattan that every Revwar fan should visit. General Washington made the house his HQ for five weeks in September-October 1776.
You can read an article about this tour by Alexander Luckmann in The Architect’s Newspaper of October 30, 2017: “Archtober Building of the Day#24: The Morris-Jumel Mansion.”
GIVE ME YOUR LIPTON, YOUR ORANGE PEKOE, YOUR ENGLISH BREAKFAST YEARNING TO BREATHE FREE
Lynne Saginaw reports an appeal to the public from the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. They want you to send them loose tea. No bags, just loose tea. Why? So they can throw it in the harbor, when they re-enact the Party on December 16. (Also the birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven and Noel Coward.) The deadline is December 1. Send it to the Attention of “Toss That Tea.” 306 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02210. Please include your name, address, email and phone number. You will receive a certificate! The British East India Company, which started all the fuss in the first place, is contributing 220 pounds of its own tea…its own expired tea. But since the original Tea Party involved forty-six tons of the stuff, they have a way to go to reach a true re-enactment. This intelligence comes to us from a blog called “Boston 1775,” by J. L. Bell.On Saturday, October 28, Fred Cookinham led about twenty architects and architecture fans on a tour inside and outside the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights. This is an historic site in upper Manhattan that every Revwar fan should visit. General Washington made the house his HQ for five weeks in September-October 1776.
THE SPEAKER FOR DECEMBER
On December 5, we will hear about an entertaining Revolutionary General, Israel Putnam – “Old Put.” Entertaining in the sense of being a former innkeeper, and raconteur. Our speaker will be Robert Ernest Hubbard, a retired professor at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut. Mr. Hubbard is an Adjunct Faculty Member in the college’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program. He is also the reigning webmaster on the subjects of General Putnam and Phil Silvers, whose role in the Revolution escapes me. All the more reason to come to the Coffee House Club December 5.
Mr. Hubbard’s book is titled Major General Israel Putnam: Hero of the American Revolution. It was published this year – and is the first full-length biography of Old Put in over a century! Mr. Hubbard has uncovered a little-known adventure of Putnam’s, involving a force of five hundred men he led, and which got shipwrecked on the coast of Cuba. Why? We will just have to wait until December 5.
The McFarland Publishing Company is itself of some interest. Robert McFarland Franklin founded the company in 1979 in the city of Jefferson, North Carolina, near the point where that state meets Virginia and Tennessee. They specialize in reference and scholarly works. Their logo includes the tartan of the clan McFarland and the McFarland Lantern of Scottish legend. If you find this lantern and rub it, Phil Silvers pops out.
One reviewer found Hubbard’s book “scholarly, but fun and readable.”
AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM OUR CHAIRMAN
Reminder: The semi annual meeting of the board of governors will take place prior to the December meeting. We will meet at the Coffee House Club at 5:30. The agenda will be emailed a few days ahead of the meeting.
Your most obdt svt,
David W. Jacobs
The BROADSIDE is published five times a year to members of the American Revolution Round Table of New York. Editor: Frederick Cookinham. Electronic Publisher: Jonathan Carriel. Past issues are available on our website, www.arrt-ny.org.