Launching John Brown Day 2014, students from high schools across the Adirondacks will attend special screenings of 12 Years a Slave, the Academy award-winning film based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free Black Adirondacker who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the mid-1800s.
Born in Minerva in 1808, Northup lived many of his early years in the region, married and made a home with his wife and their three children in Saratoga Springs. It was there in 1841 where his harrowing entrapment and subsequent enslavement on a Louisiana cotton plantation began.
Eighteen years later in October 1859 John Brown’s raid on the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, lit the spark that ignited the war that ended the chattel slavery that Northup and millions of other people of African descent endured in the United States. » Continue Reading.
At the height of her career in mid-1873, Kate Field was said to be “a more prominent journalist than Clemens [Mark Twain].” The Washington Post said she was “one of the foremost women of America,” and the Chicago Tribune called her the “most unique woman the present century has produced.” Yet in her tales of adventure in the Adirondacks, she called herself “a babe in the woods.”
She wrote, “To be a babe in the woods watched over by a human robin redbreast, is as near an approach to Eden before the fall as comes within the ken of woman.” » Continue Reading.
Joe Hackett has spent time in prison. Yes, the well known local guide, columnist, and scout for Seventh Avenue has spent years in jail, not as a inmate, but as a recreation coordinator at Camp Gabriels, a former New York State Minimum Security prison shuttered a few years ago by the state.
Once a tuberculosis sanatorium, the 92-acre facility was sold to the state in 1982, which operated it as a 336 bed-prison until 2009. There many of the prisoners worked on forestry and community service-related, projects, yet not-withstanding, it was prison far, far from home and family for the men housed there. For them the “Dacks” was a cold, hostile and distant place.
The prison was built, as were most in the North Country, as an outcome of the ‘War of Drugs’ and in particular Rockefeller Drugs laws that resulted in mass incarceration and a resultant building boom here because most urban and suburban voters did not want prisons located in ‘their back yards.’ Under the leadership of the late Senator Ron Stafford, such projects were welcomed for the many solid salaries they offered and, as a result, New York Corrections is the largest employer in the North Country.
John Brown Lives! and North Country Community College have announced that Maine artist Robert Shetterly will be present for the unveiling of his portrait of abolitionist John Brown during Freedom Now, Freedom Then: The Long History of Emancipation, a two-day program designed for students, educators and the general public on November 30-December 1, 2012. The events will take place in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, New York.
Brown is one of the newest additions to the Americans Who Tell the Truth project that Shetterly began 10 years ago using portraits of contemporary and historical figures and their own words to offer a “link between a community of people who struggled for justice in our past and a community of people who are doing it now.”
With this portrait, Brown joins Shetterly’s pantheon of more than 180 Truth Tellers that includes Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth and Mark Twain from the nation’s past, and Bill McKibben, James Baldwin, Michelle Alexander, and Jonathan Kozol who are addressing some of humanity’s gravest concerns today. » Continue Reading.
John Brown Farm State Historic Site will once again commemorate Juneteenth with a family-friendly celebration of freedom. The free event will take place onsite in Lake Placid Saturday, June 16th from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Brendan Mills, Site Manager and Curator at John Brown Farm Historic Site, says,“ The first Juneteenth took place on June 19, 1865 when Union soldiers told slaves in Galveston, Texas that they were free. It was a moment of triumph. The day and celebration eventually became known as Juneteenth. I wanted to have something to celebrate here.”
Mills organized the annual celebration that will include The Lake Champlain Mass Chorus, Sombabeats African Dance Tribe, Reason2Smile African Market Place, BBQ and ice cream. All the activities are free, though the food and ice cream are available for a $2 donation. » Continue Reading.
Frederick Douglass’ great-great-great grandson Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., will give the keynote address at the annual John Brown Day celebration to be held on Saturday, May 5, at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid, NY. Morris will talk about the friendship and enduring legacy of Douglass and fellow abolitionist John Brown.
The two men first met in Massachusetts in 1848, a decade after Douglass successfully escaped from slavery on a Maryland plantation and eleven years before Brown’s history-changing raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. By the time they met, Douglass had become one of the most eloquent and sought-after champions of freedom and equal suffrage for women and men, regardless of race. Founder and President of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation, Morris will also discuss the Foundation’s work today to create a modern Abolitionist Movement in schools all over the country through the vehicle of Service-Learning.
There are an estimated 27 million men, women and children held in some form of slavery in the world today, generating billions of dollars along the supply chain of labor and products that make much of our daily lives possible.
Joining Morris will be Renan Salgado, a Human Trafficking Specialist based in Rochester, who will shed light in his remarks about slavery and trafficking in New York State today. According to the U.S. State Department, there are approximately 17,500 people trafficked into the U.S. each year. Along with California, Texas, and Florida, New York ranks among the states with the greatest incidence of documented slavery in the country.
Young, award-winning orators from the Frederick Douglass Student Club in Rochester will recite from Douglass’ speeches and excerpts from Brown’s letters. The folk quartet The Wannabees and the hip-hop recording artist S.A.I. will also perform.
John Brown Day revives the tradition dating back to the 1930s of making a pilgrimage to remember and honor Brown by laying a wreath at his grave. Over the last 13 years, the grassroots freedom education project John Brown Lives! has worked to keep that tradition alive and relevant.
John Brown Day 2012 is free and open to the public and it is held outdoors. A brief reception will follow in the lower barn at the site. Donations will be appreciated.
For more information, contact Martha Swan, Executive Director of John Brown Lives! at 518-962-4758 or [email protected]
Visit the John Brown Lives! Friends of Freedom on Facebook.
Late on the night of October 16, 1859, Adirondack abolitionist John Brown led 18 well-armed men on a raid of the federal armory and arsenal at Harpers Ferry and sparked a nationwide uprising against slavery. The principal goal of the raid was to free slaves, not attack and hold a Southern state. The plan was simple: capture about 100,000 muskets and rifles, ammunition, and other supplies from the lightly guarded federal facilities at Harpers Ferry, retire to the countryside and carry out nighttime raids to free Southern slaves. The raider’s believed the southern harvest fields would be filled with disgruntled and overworked slaves bringing in the crops, a perfect opportunity to turn them to revolt. The raid might have succeeded, had Brown not made a serious error in allowing an eastbound Baltimore & Ohio train the raiders had captured to proceed. The conductor alerted the main B & O office that abolitionists were attempting to free the area’s slaves. The word was immediately taken to B & O president John W. Garrett, who notified US President James Buchanan, Virginia Governor Henry A. Wise, and Major General George H. Stewart of the Maryland Volunteers that a slave insurrection was underway in Harpers Ferry. The worst fear of the southern slaveholders seemed to be at hand.
By about noon Brown’s last chance to escape into the countryside came and went – he was in command of the bridges, and held about 35 prisoners. Armed locals arrived and organized a makeshift attack with their own hunting guns. Then two militia companies arrived from nearby Charles Town – together they stormed the bridges and drove the half dozen or so of Brown’s men guarding them back.
Five raiders were captured alive. Seven initially escaped and five of them made it to ultimate freedom in the north; four later served in the Civil War. Ten men were killed. All but two were buried in a common grave on the Shenandoah River, across from Harpers Ferry. The lest resting place of Jeremiah Anderson remains unknown. Watson Brown’s body was given to Winchester Medical College where it remained until Union troops recovered it during the Civil War and burned the school in reprisal.
Brown was charged with murder, conspiring with slaves to rebel, and treason against Virginia (West Virginia was not yet a state) and after a week-long trial was sentenced to death in early November. He was hanged on December 2nd (John Wilkes Booth sneaked in to watch) and his body was afterward carried to North Elba in Essex County to “moulder in his grave.”
Horwitz is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who has worked for The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker. He also wrote Confederates in the Attic, the outstanding look at the Civil War’s continued legacy in the South. Midnight Rising follows John Brown’s plot from its very inception to the savage battle, and then to its aftermath as it galvanizes the North and pushes the South closer to secession.
The “Dreaming of Timbuctoo” Exhibition will be on view at the Whallonsburg Grange Hall in the Champlain Valley from July 3-9. The Grange is located on Route 22, five miles south of the village of Essex, NY.
When it premiered at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake in 2001, “Dreaming of Timbuctoo” revealed the little-known antebellum history involving black homesteaders granted land in the Adirondacks in the mid-1840s—a step toward winning the vote for free black New Yorkers. » Continue Reading.
Climate Justice will be the focus of this year’s annual John Brown Day on Saturday, May 7, 2011. A tradition dating back to the 1930s, John Brown Day is held each year at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid, to honor one of the nation’s most influential abolitionists on the anniversary of his birth in 1800.
Dedicating his life to eradicating slavery, Brown eventually risked all attacking the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in 1859. Captured by troops led by Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart, Brown’s trial and execution are considered by many historians as a spark that help ignite the Civil War 150 years ago. » Continue Reading.
Author-historian Sandra Weber and musician David Hodges will present a dramatic performance of the life of Mary Day Brown, wife of radical abolitionist John Brown.
The Adirondack Museum‘s Cabin Fever Sunday series will return to Saranac Lake, New York on February 27, 2011. “Times of Trouble” with Weber and Hodges will be held at Saranac Village at Will Rogers. The time will be 2:00 p.m. The presentation will offered at no charge to museum members, residents of Saranac Village, and children of elementary school age or younger. The fee for non-members is $5.00. Dressed in period costume, Weber and Hodges will weave narrative and song to share the little known life of Mary Brown. The poignant piece illustrates the significant role this plain woman played as wife of the radical abolitionist John Brown.
The program will present Mary’s early life and marriage as well as later tragedies involving bankruptcy, accidents, and death. The presentation closes with Mrs. Brown’s most difficult “times of trouble” in the aftermath of the raid on Harper’s Ferry. Sandra Weber has spent ten years researching the life of Mary Day Brown.
Weber is an author, storyteller, and independent scholar with special interest in the Adirondacks, Mary and John Brown, as well as women’s history. Her publishing credits include eight books and numerous articles in periodicals such as Civil War Times, Adirondack Life, Pennsylvania Magazine, and Highlights for Children.
In 2004 and 2005, Sandra Weber toured with folksinger Peggy Lynn performing stories from their book, Breaking Trail: Remarkable Women of the Adirondacks.
David Hodges has played guitar and bass for more than twenty years. He has performed with bands throughout New York, Texas and Pennsylvania and recorded CDs with “Mad Factory” and “Evil Twin.” Hodges currently plays with “Mr. Freeze,” a blues-rock band, and accompanies Sandra Weber in folk music performances.
151 years ago this week, John Brown was executed and his body was returned to the Adirondacks. Had Brown escaped from Harpers Ferry rather than been captured he might well today be just a footnote, one of the tens of thousands that struggled to undermine the institution of slavery in America before the Civil War.
It’s often said that just one thing secured Brown’s place in the hearts of millions of Americans that came after him – his execution and martyrdom. There is another equally important reason Americans will celebrate the life of John Brown this week however – he was right slavery would end at a heavy price. Last year, I wrote a series of posts following the last days of John Brown’s fight to end slavery. You can read the entire series here (start at the bottom).
During “Slavery in New York? Slavery Today?”, a two-day Convention being held Friday, December 3rd and Saturday, December 4th, experts on contemporary slavery and human trafficking will be joined by scholars, historians, victims advocates, lawyers, investigative reporters, musicians, and the general public to examine slavery and trafficking in New York State and ways to end it. Events will take place around the Lake Placid area.
New Yorkers have long regarded slavery as a southern institution. However, the 1991 discovery of the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan offered irrefutable evidence that New York was a veritable slave society for hundreds of years. Recent research and fresh scholarship have begun to mine a long-buried history. As New Yorkers begin to remember and commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, examining the State’s dual legacy of slavery and freedom will shed new light on the complex narrative of our past. Although largely erased from official history and collective memory, New York “promoted, prolonged and profited from” slavery from the 1620s through the 1850s. Slave labor was here at the start of New Netherland and it continued throughout the British colonial period with such intensity that at times during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, New York City had a larger slave population than any other city in North America.
Around the world today, slavery is still alive and well, generating billions of dollars along the supply chain of labor and products that make much of our daily lives possible. Though a crime in nearly every country, roughly 27 million people are enslaved worldwide today, including nearly 55,000 people in the United States. In the State Department’s 2010 report on human trafficking across the globe, the U.S. was identified as a “source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor, debt bondage, and forced prostitution.”
According to the Washington, D.C.-based Free the Slaves, slaves are found in nearly all 50 states, from farm fields and orchards to hotels, restaurants, private homes, factories, sweatshops, brothels, and construction sites. Immigrant populations, both documented and undocumented, are especially vulnerable, but native-born Americans are not immune to being enslaved and trafficked. New York, along with California, Florida and Texas, ranks among the states with the greatest incidence of documented slavery in the country.
* Chandra Bhatnagar, ACLU Human Rights Project Staff Attorney and counsel for 500 Indian men trafficked into the U.S. as “guestworkers”;
* John Bowe, award-winning investigative journalist and author of Nobodies: Modern American Slavery and the New Global Economy;
* Florrie Burke, Co-Chair of Freedom Network (USA), expert on the treatment of trafficking victims and one of the first social services respondents to Deaf Mexicans forced to sell trinkets on the New York City subway in the mid-1990s;
* Mia Nagawiecki and Betsy Gibbons, New York Historical Society;
* Renan Salgado, Farmworker Legal Services of New York;
* Ron Soodalter, author of Hanging Captain Gordon: The Life and Trial of an American Slave Trader and co-author with Kevin Bales of The Slave Next Door;
* Tina M. Stanford, Executive Director, New York State Office of Victims Services;
* Dr. Margaret Washington, Professor of History at Cornell University and Sojourner Truth biographer;
* Dr. Sherrill Wilson, urban anthropologist at forefront of effort to research, interpret and protect the African Burial Ground discovered in Lower Manhattan;
* Duane Vaughn, Executive Director of Wait House, an emergency shelter in Glens Falls for youth ages 16-21; and
* Dr. J.W. Wiley, Director of the Center for Diversity, Pluralism & Inclusion, SUNY Plattsburgh.
8 am-3 pm Educators Workshop at Heaven Hill Farm
7 pm-9 pm Slavery, Film & the Shaping of an American Conscience at Lake Placid Center for the Arts
8 am-5 pm Anti-Slavery Convention at High Peaks Resort
5 pm-6 pm Wreath-laying Ceremony at John Brown Farm State Historic Site
9 pm-? Closing Reception at Northwoods Inn
“Slavery in New York? Slavery Today?” is co-sponsored by the freedom education project John Brown Lives!, John Brown Coming Home, the New York State Archives Partnership Trust, the National Abolition Hall of Fame, and the Center for Diversity, Pluralism & Inclusion at SUNY Plattsburgh. Participants include:
June 19th commemorates “Juneteenth”, the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in the United States, and is observed in more than 30 states. It is also known as Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day. Join us in honoring “Juneteenth” with an author reception for Scott Christianson, author of the critically acclaimed book Freeing Charles: The Struggle to Free a Slave on the Eve of the Civil War (University of Illinois Press, 2010).
Scott will speak about the life and dramatic rescue of a captured fugitive slave from Virginia, Charles Nalle, who was liberated by Harriet Tubman and others in Troy, NY in 1860. » Continue Reading.
A few surprises to report as the 2010 Adirondack Bracket winnows itself down to the round of eight.
First off, mushrooms topped pond hockey. Actually, not too much of a surprise with ice-out at hand and the damp woodland floor being exposed by receding snow drifts. If you are new to identifying mushroom varieties in the Adirondacks, there’s probably no better place to start than Mushrooms of the Adirondacks. It’s a start because the book covers only a relatively small portion of the hundreds of varieties to be found (go chanterelles!). And do we really need to remind you that it is always a wise move to double and triple-check the edibility of some mushroom varieties before trying to impress your friends with your outdoor culinary skills. Mushrooms will now take on Triclopyr, vanquisher of Black Brook, for a chance at the final four. John Brown got by birders—a surprise to nobody—becoming the only individual person to advance (Au revoir, Sammy Champlain, see you in 2109!). The craggy-faced insurgent will now face the even craggier cairns of Krumholtz and cairns. They caught Yellow Yellow still hibernating.
And the team that lived by the upset, Talk of the Town were out of talk and/or out of town (always a risk during spring break), getting sunk by Lows Lake—that deep Adirondack treasure and essential destination for canoe campers. Lows now faces the only endangered species to survive into the round of eight: the Adirondack logger. Which, of course, is our way of saying buh-bye to the Bicknell’s thrush. With breeding season approaching, it is best you stay focused, anyway. This little bird was beaten by Planning Boards, who will meet Backyard Sugarin’ as it looks to extend its run a little longer (with the help of cold nights). Given recent moves by local Adirondack planning boards to outlaw small flock poultry raising (Backyard Chickenin’) and outdoor wood boilers, this next round might not be all that sweet for these sugarin’ saps.
Join us later in the week as we reveal the final four and work toward the thrilling conclusion of the 2010 Adirondack Bracket this coming weekend.
Adirondack Bracket fans, welcome to the Benzene-Toluene-Ephedrine-Iodine-Phenylpropanolamine-Crystal methamphetamine-Sweet-Sixteen. The field is narrowing and the narrative is coming into focus. Chris Kowanko, the Renderer bros. and the whole crowd at Upper Jay Upholstery and Furniture —home to the Recovery Lounge—got the stuffing knocked out of them by a handful of bad mushrooms. They could have benefitted from a class in basic mycology. The mushrooms now face pond hockey, which put those cougar sightings on ice, and is said to be making a real comeback (beats waiting for the peewees to clear out of the rink). The town of Black Brook, coached by Howard Aubin and LeRoy Douglas, displayed their unique style of environmental sensitivity with a proper burial of Jenks swamp, the state-protected wetland bisected by the Adirondack Northway, that nobody in their right mind would have built on anyway. Their pep squad of attorneys chanted from the sidelines, “make a federal case out of it!”
UPDATE: Black Brook now faces an equally potent wetlands menace in Triclopyr. This APA-sanctioned herbicide will be applied to Eurasian watermilfoil beds in Lake Luzerne. The public has been assured that this chemical will not harm grasses in areas where the lake water is used for irrigation. Studies have yet to be conducted, however, on its effect on municipal commitment to preventing invasive species from entering our lakes in the first place. One thing is for certain, however, in the Adirondack Bracket, it proved toxic to frankenpines. Strong stuff.
The lower left regionals witnessed an upset in the contest between birders and—the latest salvation of struggling hamlet economies and declining school populations—broadband. The unexpected outcome of this mismatch between fast and powerful telecommunications and what by any measure must be considered a rag-tag (though incredibly patient) bunch, turned on a simple miscommunication. The birders turned out in vast numbers, flocking to the Bloomingdale Bog, expecting to catch a rare glimpse of the broadbanded boobyhatch. Their tweets alone crashed the fledgling broadband network.
Birdiers go on to face the very ostrich-like John Brown. The martyr of Harper’s Ferry, perhaps boosted by a New York Senate reprieve on the possible closure of his Historic State Park, took 2009 Final Four contender Northville-Placid Trail in stride on his way home to the Plains of Abraham.
The second match-up in this region features the enduring pate-fluff of the Adirondack high peaks, Krumholtz and Cairns (not to be confused with the legal firm, Crumhorn and Korn) who were just too much for some of this area’s art centers to surmount.
They will face the legendary Yellow-Yellow, vanquisher of bear-proof canisters, and most recently of Moriah Shock and Lyon Mountain correctional facilities. In fairness to Moriah Shock and Lyon Mountain, they were both put on New York State Senate’s endangered species list before being devoured.
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