American History · history

The Declaration of Independence and its Legacy

This week celebrated one of the most important events in American history. Wednesday, July 4, was the anniversary of the ratification of the Declaration of Independence and, after spending some of the week in Boston, I find myself full of the Revolutionary spirit! I wanted to create some blog posts this month that highlight some of the key events leading to the break of the American colonies from England.

I came to a realization while traveling in Boston that in current time we don’t truly realize how radical the events of the Revolution were. The rights to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” and having a government that is run by the consent of the people are just what is expected. That did no exist in the world that the Declaration of Independence was born into. The American colonies were there for the benefit of the parent country first and their own needs were secondary. These figures in our history were truly risking their lives for something they did not know would work at all and I admire that. At the time, Britain, and even the world, believed these “upstart colonists” were doomed to fail. Britain was the greatest power in existence and they had the advantage. When the British looked at the colonist they saw untrained and undisciplined farmers while they had a professional army. Some in Parliament even viewed the future Americans as “lazy”. The British also knew that the colonists could not finance a war as they had no navy and no way to manufacture supplies in large quantities.

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Continue reading “The Declaration of Independence and its Legacy”

American History · biography · history

Victoria Woodhull: First Female Presidential Candidate and Activist

Victoria Claflin was born on September 23, 1838 in Homer, Ohio. She was the seventh of ten children and was closest to her youngest sister, Tennessee. She grew up in a very rural area and her parents were considered “undesirable” in society. Her father was a con man and her mother a religious fanatic. Victoria would learn the valuable trade of fortune telling and how to be a medium through her mother. Victoria had to drop out of school after only three years of elementary school in order to earn income for her poor family. She earned this through fortune telling. The family was exiled from Homer after her father burned down their gristmill to try and cash in on the insurance policy. From this moment on Victoria spent much of her time traveling with her family attempting to earn money. Through her difficult childhood, Victoria learned to be independent and find strength within herself.

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American History · art history · european history · history

Places to See: Ancient Spanish Monastery, Miami, FL

In the 20th century, 11,000 wooden crates were brought across the Atlantic in order to rebuild one of the most beautiful (and oldest) buildings. I visited Miami this weekend and was able to tour this amazing place. I was astounded at the beauty and overall peaceful feeling while in this ancient Spanish Monastery. It is most likely the oldest building in America and I felt I needed to share its history (and my pictures!).

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Currently this church is known as the St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church, but it was originally created in 1133 in Sacramenia, Spain. The construction was completed in 1141 and the Monastery was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was built in the Cistercian Romanesque style and was located in a mainly Muslim area of Spain during this period. It would have originally contained some defensive structures (as the Christians and Muslims where at war during this period). This monastery also contains two of the only three known telescopic windows from the medieval period that exist today (pictured below). These are placed above the altar Continue reading “Places to See: Ancient Spanish Monastery, Miami, FL”

American History · art history · history

Documenting History: The Story of the Civil War’s Forgotten Sketch Artists

When you think of Civil War art the first thing that comes to mind is the photography, right? It was groundbreaking as it was a fairly new invention and was able to capture an exact representation of a moment in time. The photograph is so common today that it may actually surprise you that most contemporaries during the Civil War never saw any of these battlefield photographs as the technology did not exist to print and publish them on a wide scale. What the majority of contemporaries did see were beautiful sketches that documented the battles and happenings of the war in illustrated newspapers, such as: Harper’s Weekly, Frank Lesile’s Illustrated News, and the Illustrated London News. They were hired men who were known as the “Specials”; they were on-site pictorial war correspondents who traveled and actually lived amongst the troops (on both sides!). They faced all the same hardships as the traveling troops and were there in the heat of battle in order to do their work. Using pencils and paper they documented the war and the soldier’s life through their sketches in order for the people at home to have a chance to see what was going on. These sketches are some of the most valuable items from the Civil War. Photography was limited as it could not capture movement or the drama of the war, but the sketches could. As the artists sketched what they saw these could be some of the most accurate depictions (with maybe just a hint of embellishing at parts) and created scenes of human interest for the audience back home.

The image of war changed dramatically during the Civil War as the traditional “Heroic” imagery used in the past was changed to depict a more realistic (and more violent) image along with a stronger concentration on the common soldier rather than the commanders. Continue reading “Documenting History: The Story of the Civil War’s Forgotten Sketch Artists”

American History · biography · history

Ever Wonder what was on a Pirates Reading List? The Story of Blackbeard, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, and new Archaeological Evidence

I always like to keep up on new archaeological information because amazing stories from history are found almost every day. Recently, preserved scraps of paper (about the size of a quarter) were found in the excavation of the shipwreck of Queen Anne’s Revenge. This is a very famous ship as it was the flagship of Blackbeard’s feared pirate fleet. But what is so important about these little pieces of paper?

Amazingly, the type is still legible though these scraps have been sitting in a shipwreck for 300 years. I would love to know more about how these items were preserved so well because paper and books are often the first to go after being submerged in water. From these small scraps of paper historians were able to match them to exactly what book they belonged to. This provides more insight on what pirates were reading (who knew they had their own personal reading lists!) and that, in fact, more seaman were literate than previously believed. Continue reading “Ever Wonder what was on a Pirates Reading List? The Story of Blackbeard, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, and new Archaeological Evidence”

American History · biography · european history · history

Happy 2018! Nonfiction Picks to Add to your Reading List!

Happy New Year everyone! I am very excited to begin anew in 2018 as 2017 was not the best year for me. Starting this blog has been important to me in order to keep my passion for history and writing in my life. A few of my 2018 resolutions include growing this blog, keeping on a once to week schedule, and just write daily whether it be creative writing, historical for the blog, or even just personal. I hope I will be able to stick to this commitment in the upcoming months.

Many New Years resolutions include reading more (my own personal is to read 40 books this year!) and I thought I could help fill in that reading list with some of my personal nonfiction picks! In no particular order here they are: Continue reading “Happy 2018! Nonfiction Picks to Add to your Reading List!”

American History · history

On This Day: Tragedy of the Edmund Fitzgerald

“The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down

Of the big lake they called ‘gitche gumee’

The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead

When the skies of November turn gloomy

With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more

Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty 

That good ship and crew was a bone to be chewed  

When the gales of November came early” -”The Wreck of Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot

Being a Michigander I have grown up knowing the sad tragedy of the mighty freighter named Edmund Fitzgerald and visited the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. 42 years ago today on November 10, 1975 one of the largest freighters ever to sail the great lakes (729 feet long and 75 feet wide) was lost in Lake Superior during a terrible storm.

Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world and is the coldest/deepest of all the Great Lakes. The deepest point is about 1,300 feet and waves of over 40 feet have been recorded before. There is a saying that Lake Superior never gives up her dead… Continue reading “On This Day: Tragedy of the Edmund Fitzgerald”