Posts Tagged ‘Slavery’

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Fact, Fiction On Chester’s Underground Railroad

Underground Railroad in the town of chester by donna lagoyThe publication of a new book about the Underground Railroad in the Adirondacks, focusing on its supporters and their good work in the Town of Chester in Warren County, rides a high wave of public interest in this dramatic chapter of our history. No bookstore lacks a full-frontal display of Colson Whitehead’s explosive novel The Underground Railroad, with Oprah’s golden imprimatur on the front jacket.

Regional scholarship is booming: in just the last decade, books and articles have documented Underground Railroad activity in Indiana, Buffalo, Detroit, Vermont, New York City, Pennsylvania, and the long flanks of Lake Champlain. Tom Calarco’s The Underground Railroad in the Adirondack Region (2004) is still the most inclusive, best synthesized, and detailed account of goings-on inside and all around the Blue Line. And cultural tourism in the region has gained immeasurably from the opening of the North Star Underground Railroad Museum at Ausable Chasm — the work, in great part, of two independent researchers, Don and Vivian Papson of Plattsburgh. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Underground Railroad’s Lake Champlain Route

The Lake Champlain Basin Program will host Don Papson, co-founder of the North Star Underground Railroad Museum, as he presents “The Champlain Line of the Underground Railroad” on Thursday, March 9, 2017 at the LCBP office in Grand Isle.

Papson, a historian and author from the Adirondack North Country, will discuss the history of the Underground Railroad along Lake Champlain’s western shore. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Mary Ann Day Brown, Widow of John Brown

john brownLast weekend, the Saratoga Historical Society in California celebrated the 200th birthday of Mary Ann Day Brown, wife of radical abolitionist John Brown. The milestone was observed a few weeks prior to her actual birthday (April 15) to coincide with the Blossom Festival…. but, wait. Doesn’t John Brown’s body lie a moldering in his grave in New York State? Yes, it does, in the Adirondacks near Lake Placid. The grave of his second wife Mary however, is at the other end of the country, in Saratoga, California’s Madronia Cemetery.

It is all rather ironic since the life of Mary Ann Day started 200 years ago on April 15, 1816, in Granville in Washington County. Mary was a quite ordinary woman of the 1800s: quiet, modest, godly, and usually poor. Scores of thousands such lives pass unnoticed; history tends to remember women of wealth, beauty or offbeat wackiness if it recalls their existence at all. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

John Brown Day Saturday, May 9th in Lake Placid

John Brown DayA biographer who has written extensively about John Brown, a civil rights activist who marched in Selma and a memorial honoring a youth leader who introduced countless city youth to the Adirondacks will highlight John Brown Day 2015.

The annual event will be held Saturday, May 9, from 2 to 4 pm at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid. It is free and open to the public.

Speakers at the event, an annual celebration honoring the life and legacy of abolitionist John Brown, include biographer Louis DeCaro and civil rights activist Dr. James H. Carter. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Maple Syrup Production and Slavery

Native Woman collecting sapThe sight of maple sap bubbling away in an evaporator pan, the sweet smell in the air and the camaraderie of sugarin’ season are welcomed signs of spring here in the Adirondacks. It also has an interesting history; there is a connection between maple sugar production, slavery in the United States, and socially responsible investing.

Early settlers watched Native Americans slash the bark of mature maple trees during the “sugar month” (even today the full moon in March is called the “Sugaring Moon”). As the trees released their sap from these gashes the clear sweet liquid would be funneled through a series of concave pieces of birch bark stitched together with reeds to the base of each tree where a sealed birch bark basket stored the sap. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Today In 1859 John Brown Was Hanged

One hundred and fifty-five years ago today John Brown was executed after leading an anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, part of the radical movement of tens of thousands of Americans struggling 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 – his execution and martyrdom. But there is another more important reason to celebrate the life of John Brown – his courage in standing against unjust state and federal laws, the press, and popular culture in the cause of basic human rights.

In 2009, I wrote a ten-part series of posts following the last days of John Brown’s fight to end slavery. You can find that here (to read in chronological order, start at the bottom).


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Amy Godine On Black History in the Adirondacks

TMDA LogoBlack history in the Adirondacks has an anecdotal quality, maybe because the numbers of black Adirondackers have been so few. Here’s a story of a black homesteader who was good friends with John Brown. There’s a barn that may have sheltered fugitives on the Underground Railroad.  Outside Warrensburg is a place in the woods where a black hermit lived. And so on.

The temptation – and I should know; I’ve been a lead offender – is to make a sort of nosegay out of these scattered stories, pack them all into a story by its lonesome, a chunky little sidebar, and let this stand for the black experience.

It makes a good read, and it’s efficient. And it’s wrong. It reinforces the idea that the black experience in this region was something isolated, inessential. It ghettoizes black Adirondack history, and this wasn’t how it was. » Continue Reading.