American Places: Encounters with History - PDF Free Download
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Mason Stewart Stout Stuckey St. Bishop Bissell Hall Blades Elem. Brentwood Brentwood Briar Crest Elem. Bristol Primary Brittany Woods Elem. Carr Lane Vpa Carver Elem. Cross Keys Cupples Elem. People can choose to live, among many other places, in WallStreet investing, financeTimesSquare games, role-playingAthens education, philosophyHollywood film and TVPentagon militaryor RainForest the environment.
As in suburbia, looks can be deceptive; though each house in each block appears the same, behind the surface great variation awaits. Some communities have active city fathers and mothers who strive for cybercivic pride. In the Heartland community, for example, residents vie for the Heartland Award of Excellence, given to those who do the most to encourage the values of the traditional American community.
Special places have been set aside in the Heartland for genealogy, prayer, and other honored practices and values. Sites are decorated with symbols rich in nostalgia and earth tones.
Much of cyberspace, in other words, has become thoroughly domesticated. It would be difficult to imagine places much farther removed from the dark, slick, and sinister spaces of Neuromancer than these relentlessly cheerful commercial communities. While early visions of cyberspace envisioned power nakedly displayed in glowing cubes and grids, cyberspace at the turn of the century resembles nothing so much as it does the American suburbia in which it flourishes.
Confronted with a blank slate on which to imagine a new kind of space, people on the Web have replicated late twentieth-century America and its car culture of malls, subdivisions, traffic, construction, shopping baskets, and chain stores. People have even begun to buy and sell, at escalating prices, "real estate" in role-playing games.
Until proven otherwise, everything on the Web is an advertisement for something else. Eighty-three percent of sites devote themselves to commercial content; 6 percent are devoted to education and science. We have met cyberspace and it is us. Relentless optimism stands as the official mood of cyberspace.
We are retail lords, media masters, forces on Wall Street and in Hollywood. And we don't even have to put on ties or heels. The sense of danger, nevertheless, continues to lurk. No sooner had cyberspace been settled than it attracted doomsday cults, pedophiles, and fascist skinheads. Nostalgia immediately developed for the old Internet. Faced with this anomie, gated communities have proliferated in cyberspace; some people, presented with an unprecedented possibility, want instead to mingle with people virtually like themselves.
Shoppers are automatically guided to the same music and books as other people who bought similar music and books before. The web of "customerization" grows tighter and tighter, hopes of communities based on something other than consumerism dwindle. It is a familiar pattern: Americans, perpetually optimistic, are also perpetually disappointed. In this way, the accelerated history of cyberspace has recapitulated the history of the country where it has most flourished.
Things tend to begin with millennial visions and end in comfort, convenience, commerce, and more than a little regret and guilt. A dominant emotion of cyberspace might be called "anticipointment," a perpetual sense of possibility undercut by the acknowledgment that the reality can never quite live up to the idealized image we have of it. Echoes of earlier periods in American history run through much of the discussion of cyberspace.
Even as they talk about the newest and latest things, commentators reach toward the familiar formulas, standards, and assumptions that have shaped much of American public and private life since the birth of the republic. Confronted with a new medium and a new expressive freedom, Americans have seized on familiar metaphors of prophecy and analysis.
The most obvious analogy of the new information age is the Wild West. Images of gold rushes and gunfights fill stories about otherwise humdrum business Web ventures. The other obvious analogy is that of the robber barons and the Gilded Age. Bill Gates finds himself compared, depending on the purpose of the commentator, to both the rapacious Jay Gould and the generous Andrew Carnegie.
Editorials attack the concentration of wealth in the new realm with a spirit the Populists would have applauded: Economic inequality is not the only threat to democracy in cyberspace. Many people worry more about the absence of authority than about its concentration. But no one did see, or if they did, no one attempted to stop the outburst: The Internet is a democracy, but with no constitution.
Tocqueville, routinely trotted out to explain every facet of American community and character for the last years, did nevertheless seem to speak directly to the world of cyberspace. Indeed, of all the writers on cyberspace, Tocqueville, writing in themay have come the closest to capturing its relationship to the United States because cyberspace is a clear projection of core American hopes and anxieties. Tocqueville's great volumes on democracy in America explored the paradoxes of a place where no one seemed in charge and yet people behaved with remarkable uniformity, where everything seemed possible and yet devoid of the joy one might expect in a land so prosperous and free.
One commentator on Tocqueville, writing years before either the net or cyberspace had been imagined, distilled the essence of the French visitor's argument: Every clause has been the focus of one critic or another of the new space growing in our midst.
Both are quick, shallow, and lonely as well as hopeful, energetic, and sociable. Like Tocqueville's America, cyberspace America confronts no old order to overthrow, no virtual monarchy, church, or aristocracy to slow its spreading dominion. There is only momentum—of network, of mass communication, of consumerism, of hunger for speed, stimulation, and gratification.
As in Tocqueville's America, the government in cyberspace is decentralized, distrusted, and weak, afraid to interfere. As in Tocqueville's America, the denizens of cyberspace are fascinated by any machinery faster and shinier than yesterday's machinery. People flock together to discuss UFOs, politics, or stocks online, just as they flocked to the lodges, reform organizations, and religions they invented on the spot in the America of Andrew Jackson.
The impulse is constant; only the medium has changed. Tocqueville still speaks to us because he refused to speak in mere disdain. No one today reads the European observers who visited only to sneer, and no one takes seriously those who only doled out praise. Tocqueville admired much of what he saw in America, but he worried about the lack of satisfaction he found here: Americans felt alone, adrift, without a place and without community. Presented with a clean sheet on which to draw our deepest desires and our best plans, Americans seem to be re-creating much of what Tocqueville saw.
In cyberspace, we reconstitute the hustle and anxiety even as we try to build the perfect community to contain both. The Web of today contains virtual versions of earlier monuments to these competing impulses. Without much difficulty, a visitor to the Web can see Main Street and Times Square, Levittown and trailer parks, Brook Farm and Las Vegas, white-steepled churches and storefront ministries, red schoolhouses and night schools. As in Disneyland, we try to re-create our real communities in idealized ones that we can smooth, perfect, and contain.
We build only to tear down for something better, something that may satisfy our hunger for connection and belonging. The World Wide Web will not long endure in its current state.
Today's most sophisticated Websites will seem hopelessly limited in just a few years; the technologies that will permit a new generation of cyberspace are being readied at a feverish pace. Cyberspace may yet grow into the nightmare of Neuromancer, the beloved community of the WELL, or something else altogether.
Whatever the machinery or the landscape, one thing seems likely: Kennedy ride in the inaugural parade along Pennsylvania Avenue.
It seemed like a bright idea: Pennsylvania Avenue was a favorite. The sights along the way were impressive: The association with presidents, a major interest of mine, was also powerful.
Most presidents, I knew, traveled along the "Grand Avenue" from the White House to the Capitol to be sworn into office on Inauguration Day, and then returned to review the Big Parade in their honor that afternoon from a stand erected for that purpose in front of the Executive Mansion. A few went to the Capitol by foot or on horseback; more made the trip in fancy phaetons and barouches and, later on, in automobiles and limousines.
At my leisurely pace I made the trip 1. It took the presidents longer because they were usually part of a stately procession witnessed by hundreds, and then thousands, lining the Avenue. Time gallops on, of course, and in retirement I substituted swimming for running, but I still take walks along America's "Appian Way" as it used to be calledwhenever I am in Washington, admiring the Romanesque Post Office, with its foot clock tower, the East Building of the National Gallery of Art designed by I.
Peiand the Willard Hotel self-styled "the crown jewel of Pennsylvania Avenue"the host for American presidents since Franklin Pierce in As I stroll down the Avenue at a slower pace than Harry Truman used in his daily walksI take time out to visit the exhibits in the National Gallery of Art and the National Archives, chat with attendants at the Willard who have witnessed inaugural parades, and examine the sketches, maps, and quotations inscribed on the flagstone surface of the Freedom Plaza between i3th and i4th streets.
Two quotes I find especially pertinent. One is an utterance of Samuel C. Busby, president of the Medical Society of Washington, in InJefferson used New Jersey rather than Pennsylvania Avenue in walking from his boardinghouse to Capitol Hill, because Pennsylvania was still too much of a "Serbonian bog.
On both occasions, he received praise for his "Republican simplicity. And he soon rechristened the "President's Palace" the "President's House. Andrew Jackson returned to Jeffersonian austerity inwalking informally with a few Revolutionary veterans along the Avenue, nodding and waving to his fans along the way, as he headed for Capitol Hill.
The Whigs, I learned, sponsored the first big, colorful parade reminiscent of their "log cabin and hard cider" campaignmade up of members of Tippecanoe Clubs and log cabin floats, as well as military units and bands. The most striking float since it showed that the Whigs tried to keep up with the times was a large platform on wheels, drawn by six white horses, displaying a power loom, with several operators busily weaving pieces of cloth and tossing them out to people lining the Avenue.
It was a frigid day, but Harrison joined the procession to and from the Capitol on "Old Whitey," his white charger, and the paraders trooped back and forth for a couple of hours after the inaugural ceremony to entertain the crowds.
John Quincy Adams called the procession "showy-shabby," but he meant it as a compliment: Floats became a big thing after In two floats demonstrating that Liberty and Union were in good shape though they weren't dominated the parade for James Buchanan, and in three ambitious floats proceeded down the Avenue to celebrate Abraham Lincoln's second oath-taking: Lincoln's first inauguration in was inevitably unique. With the nation on the brink of civil war on March 4, the inaugural planners realized that the safety of Lincoln and the security of Washington itself were their most urgent tasks.
To meet the crisis, General Winfield Scott, the army's general in chief, moved several hundred regular troops into the city and arranged for the presidential carriage to move along Pennsylvania Avenue on inauguration morning between double files of District cavalry, with a company of sappers and miners marching in front of the carriage and the infantry and riflemen of the District following 17 AMERICAN PLACES behind.
He also stationed soldiers on streets paralleling the parade route and cavalrymen on the side streets crossing Pennsylvania Avenue, and put riflemen on the roofs and at the windows of buildings along the parade route as well.
Fortunately there was no trouble that momentous day, and the inaugural procession, with soldiers, bands, marching clubs, governors, war veterans, congressmen, and Washington officials, went off nicely. The crowds lining the Avenue especially liked the float decorated in red, white, and blue, drawn by four white horses, and carrying thirty-four pretty little girls, one for each state including the seceded oneswearing white frocks and waving little flags.
The story that Lincoln took time out to kiss each little girl is charming but spurious. So, probably, is the tale told by one of Buchanan's biographers about the exchange Lincoln had with his predecessor en route to the Capitol. President," Lincoln is said to have replied, with uncharacteristic stiltedness, "I cannot say that I shall enter it with much pleasure, but I assure you that I shall do what I can to maintain the high standards set by my illustrious predecessors who have occupied it.
God in His goodness be praised! Four years later, at Lincoln's second swearing-in, American blacks marched in the inaugural parade for the first time, both as soldiers wearing the Union Army blue and as members of an Odd Fellows lodge in full regalia.
Though some people objected, participation of blacks in their country's quadrennial celebrations continued and increased in importance until the day came when Margaret Truman could boast that at her father's inauguration in all the activities, including the inaugural ball, were at last fully integrated. After the Civil War, the military component of inaugural parades increased in importance, and the parades themselves, originally a minor supplement to the task of getting presidents to and from the Capitol, gradually became featured events, were moved to the afternoon, and were scheduled to take place after the inaugural ceremonies at the Capitol.
Crowds continued to gather along the historic thoroughfare on inauguration morning, hoping to get a glimpse of the presidents and their wives as well as to get good seats in the bleachers erected along the way for the afternoon parade. Helen Taft was the first presidential wife to get into the act when she insisted on riding with her husband back to the White House after the inaugural ceremony in Automobiles replaced horse-drawn carriages inwhen Warren G.
Harding succeeded Woodrow Wilson as president. The motorcade from the White House to the Capitol on the morning of Harding's inauguration contained a dozen cars, and the mounted cavalry accompanying the cars came close to galloping in order to stay ahead of them.
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Cheers greeted the little procession moving down the Avenue, but Wilson purposely ignored them; he assumed they were all for Harding, and he tried to convince himself that he didn't mind a bit. But he was amused by the turn the conversation took soon after they left the White House. Harding began telling Wilson about an elephant he'd heard of whose devotion to his keeper was almost unbelievable.
One of the unpleasantest and among my favorites occurred inwhen Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt rode to the Capitol together for the latter's swearing-in. Thousands of people lined the Avenue that morning, waving, shouting, cheering, and singing "Happy Days Are Here Again," and FDR smiled, waved, and raised his silk hat in obvious pleasure as the presidential limousine lumbered along.
But Hoover, aghast at his successor's determination to go ahead with his New Deal, stared bleakly straight ahead, utterly unresponsive to FDR's efforts to get a conversation going. Spying a building under construction on one side of the Avenue, he suddenly exclaimed, almost in desperation: President, aren't those the nicest steel girders you ever saw?
As he told Grace Tully, his secretary, later on: Protocol or no protocol, somebody had to do something. The two of us simply couldn't sit there on our hands, ignoring each other and everybody else. Eisenhower in was more strained, if anything, than the Hoover-Roosevelt trip. Once on good terms, the two men had come to dislike each other thoroughly during the campaign, when Truman went out on the stump for Adlai Stevenson, and just before Ike touched base with Truman on inauguration morning, he told aides he wondered "if I can stand sitting next to the guy.
In his diary for January 20, Truman wrote that the conversation en route to the Capitol was at first about "the crowd, the pleasant day, the orderly turnover," and then Eisenhower suddenly remarked that Kenneth Royall Truman's secretary of war "tried to order him home" for Truman's inauguration in"but he wouldn't come because half the people cheering me at that time had told him they were for him.
Citizen inhe gave a fuller and more confrontational account of the episode. But both Truman and Eisenhower seem to have had faulty memories. Newspapers covering the inauguration reported that Ike was actually on hand for the celebration; he appeared in the afternoon parade. Eisenhower in a car whose placard bore only the name of his host, Secretary of the Army Kenneth Royall. Citizen reported another angry retort on his part.
But he said nothing about the friendly letter he received from Ike's son three days after the inauguration, thanking him for enabling him to attend his father's swearing-in. He never forgave Eisenhower for his discourteous behavior in The ceremonies of and were exceptions to the clock-ticking encounters on inauguration morning. Most journeys of presidents and presidents-elect to Capitol Hill seem to have been polite, if not cordial.
The transitional trip of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter in was certainly friendly; Ford reminisced about his days in Congress and explained to Carter that Republicans and Democrats could have their scraps in the House and still remain friends.
George Bush and Bill Clinton got along fine, too, in ; Clinton was never at a loss for friendly words. In the twentieth century, the newly installed president usually had lunch with members of Congress in the Capitol after the inaugural address and then returned to the White House to review the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Some presidents enjoyed the parades enormously; others simply took them in their stride. But for at least one president, Calvin Coolidge, the parade after the inauguration in seems to have been an ordeal, though it lasted only an hour and consisted mainly of army, navy, and marine forces. The people certainly like to be noticed and the President could not or would not warm up to them.
That fine, fair Coolidge day the hurrahee's emotions—never tenacious—were spent by four o'clock. Theodore Roosevelt was more typical. Like Franklin Roosevelt, John F.
As the inaugural parade passed his reviewing stand in front of the White House, he grinned, smiled, laughed, nodded, waved his hat, clapped his hands, stamped his feet, swayed to the rhythm of the band music, and at times almost danced, as more than thirty thousand men, representing hundreds of military and civilian organizations, passed in review. He liked the band music: With his affection for things military, Roosevelt was particularly proud of the army and navy units, which saluted as they passed in the parade.
Seeing soldiers from the "Territories" Puerto Rico and the Philippines gave him special pleasure, and when a battalion of Puerto Rican militiamen came by, he turned to antiexpansionist Senator Augustus O.
Bacon of Georgia and chortled: A little later he remarked to Senator Henry Cabot Lodge in a voice loud enough for the Georgia senator to hear: The 'slaves' were rejoicing in their shackles!
There were civilian groups in the parade that gave Roosevelt a great deal of pleasure too. When fifty or so cowboys, headed by his friend Seth Bullock, came dashing along Pennsylvania Avenue, waving their sombreros and cheering like mad, TR yelled back his greetings and waved his hat frantically. One cowboy, putting spurs on his steed, raced up under TR's very nose at such speed that he almost fell over the railing but, to TR's delight, skillfully spun his bronco around on its haunches and rejoined his companions.
Then, as TR watched with a big smile, the entire bunch rolled merrily away, yelling and hollering, and snaring unwary bystanders with their lariats. When it was all over, TR exclaimed: And did you note that bunch of cowboys? Oh, they are the boys who can ride!
American Places: Encounters with History
It was all superb. It really touched me to the heart. InFDR's seems to have been the three hundred members of the Electoral College marching in the inaugural parade at his request to remind people of the role that electoral as well as popular votes play in American presidential contests.
But he admired, too, the model of the War of iSia's famous frigate, the Constitution, and exchanged friendly greetings with former New York governor Alfred E. Smith as the latter passed with a contingent from Tammany Hall. Smith received a thunderous ovation from the people thronging the Avenue, but the cowboy star Tom Mix, in town to promote a new movie, received even more applause.
Kennedy, the piece de resistance in was the reproduction of PT boatcarrying members of his wartime crew; as it passed the reviewing stand, he waved vigorously and cried: Unfortunately, JFK didn't live to see any of the redevelopment, and it was the old Avenue that was used for his funeral on November 25,three days after his assassination in Dallas.
Thousands of people crowded the sidewalks that day to watch his casket, placed on a black caisson the 23 AMERICAN PLACES same one that carried FDR's coffin eighteen years beforeproceed slowly down Pennsylvania Avenue, followed by a riderless horse carrying empty boots reversed in the stirrups, signifying that the warrior would never mount again. The transformation of Pennsylvania Avenue was almost completed when Ronald Reagan became president in and reviewed the customary parade on the afternoon of his inauguration.
Reagan's enthusiasm was mainly for the military formations in the parade. He was thrilled as he watched the soldiers and sailors march by the White House reviewing stand and execute an eyes right and a brisk salute as they passed.
President," he said, "you are commander in chief now, you can do whatever you want. What about the twentieth century's last president? InBill Clinton omitted the military gesture when the troops marched by on the afternoon of his first inauguration.
Reporters covering the parade were condescendingly amused when they saw a high-ranking army officer walk over to Clinton at one point and salute him, while the latter "froze for a few seconds before he realized that his new status as Commander in Chief required him to salute back. Most presidents, including Eisenhower and Kennedy, refrained from returning military salutes in kind because, as civilian commanders of America's armed forces, they were not in uniform and they symbolized the principle of civil supremacy over the military in the American system.
A smile, a wave, nod, or friendly "Hello" sufficed for them and would have been just right for Clinton. It was hard for me to understand why Clinton bothered to go in for saluting since he didn't have to.
I had never felt comfortable saluting the quarterdeck when I boarded ships as an ensign during World War II. Snappy salutes by nonprofessionals set my teeth on edge. Even in uniform I was a civilian at heart. For people lining Pennsylvania Avenue to see the big show every four years, such matters were of little or no account. They were there to see the president in the morning, if they could, and to watch the parade in his honor in the afternoon.
The crowds attending inaugurations increased steadily in numbers as Washington's population grew and as the ways of getting to the city—train, bus, automobile, airplane—multiplied. On stormy days, only the hardiest and most determined ventured to take up positions on the Avenue for the morning procession and the afternoon parade, but on pleasant days the Avenue was a hub of activities from dawn until dark. There were decorations everywhere: Hundreds of vendors—called "fakirs" in the nineteenth century—swarmed the Avenue throughout the day, hawking soda pop, snacks, and souvenirs.
The inaugural trinkets were frequently tailored to the president-elect. For TR there were Rough Rider hats, little brown teddy bears wound up to dance, pieces of wood bound together called "Teddy's Big Stick"; for Wilson, professorial blackboard pointers, yardsticks labeled WILSON'S RULE bearing the words, "A full measure of prosperity for all," songs and ballads announcing "Woody's a jolly good fellow," and even a restaurant on the Avenue with a big sign: Johnson came inaugural medals, bracelets, plaques, and ashtrays bearing his likeness; with Jimmy Carter, a former peanut farmer, came scads of inaugural buttons, key chains, scarves, lapels, and tie pins inscribed with the peanut logo; and with Bill Clinton came medallions featuring his face, pens featuring his name, envelopes featuring his hometown postmark Hope, Arkansasbooks featuring his ideas, and license plates emblazoned with a promise "to build a bridge to the future" one of his favorite fin-de-siecle catchphrases.
For rainy days, there were umbrellas for sale, with prices rising as supplies declined. And for any day, rain or shine, there was space inside some of the buildings along the parade route available for rent in front of the windows. On icy days, some groups paid as much as five hundred dollars for comfortable window views of the Pennsylvania Avenue parade. A few presidents even requested simpler celebrations— Wilson inHarding inCoolidge inand FDR in and —and from time to time the inaugural planners shortened the afternoon parades or omitted them entirely.
But the opulence persisted. Richard Nixon's first inauguration, inwas the costliest up to that time, and his second, inwas even more expensive. Carter economized inand then Ronald Reagan threw an "Inauguration Special" that Time called "the biggest, most lavish, expensive presidential welcome ever. The inauguration was costly, too, and contained, wrote one reporter, the usual "mismash of patriotism, pride, and silliness. But Library of Congress historian Marvin W.
Krinz defended i's lavishness. A presidential inauguration, he insisted, was really "a celebration of the American civil religion. It shows the diversity and the oneness of the nation.
There's a certain amount of hokiness in it, after all, but so what? Crowned the Polka King inthe eighty-oneyear-old Yankovic and his wife Ida, an accordion player, arrived in Washington just before Inauguration Day, with a contingent of polka dancers from Milwaukee, ready, willing, and able to take part in the inaugural parade past the White House reviewing stand. The polka is our state dance, A dance that sets the pace.
It's great to play for the President, But Wisconsin's our home state. Well, there it was, in a scraggly nutshell: Hokey or not, the polka performance seems to have charmed the president. So did the parade as a whole, with its University of Arkansas marching band, the Democratic donkey, Irene, from Alabama, schoolchildren singing "It Takes a Village" based on Mrs. Clinton's best-selling bookand the Chicago Rope Warrior who jumped rope while in a sitting position he called it a "tush-up".
From polka to tush-up, Clinton thoroughly enjoyed the lively procession in his honor down Pennsylvania Avenue. It was just as well, I can't help thinking. It was the last bit of serious fun he was to have as he began his second term as president. Photo by Sam Scarfone. Copyright Crown Specialty Advertising. A maze of highways crisscrosses the Common at the center of the village, creating curious grass fractals bounded by asphalt.
One road leads to Worcester, some twenty-two miles to the east. Others connect Barre to small neighboring communities in central Massachusetts, obscure farming towns founded long ago, which now increasingly attract those who have the resources to sustain a rural retreat. Prolonged drought has browned the park grass and stressed the maple trees. Although it is mid-August when I arrive in Barre, the dry scent of autumn is already in the air.
I explore the village park, examining houses and stores, even open spaces, trying to visualize how this community might have appeared during the American Revolution, for it was then, one spring morning just as people were setting out their crops, that an African who had lived here for more than two decades suddenly decided that he had had enough of slavery.
By his own lights, a recently ratified state constitution proclaiming human equality and political liberty directly affected his own condition. He, too, was free and equal. Quork Walker's personal logic brought the republican ideology of revolution home to Barre, forcing townspeople to square rhetoric about all men being created equal with an actual case of bondage in their midst. Barre resists my efforts to imagine such a distant past.
Unlike classic New England towns that have preserved an eighteenth-century world, this community presents a jumble of different and conflicting pasts, a record of episodes rather than process, so that during my initial walk the buildings circling the Common seem like outcroppings of rock in which each stratum reveals a completely separate moment in a long and complex history.Journeys End - Clip "Hello, Stanhope" - on Digital 1 June & DVD 4 June
It is clear, however, that the fastidious force of gentrification is nowhere to be seen. From a nineteenth-century bandstand where townspeople once gathered on summer evenings, I survey a cluster of modest stores, a garage, a library, the offices of "Worcester County's Oldest Newspaper," several churches, a modern bank, and the Barre post office.
Next to the Historical Society, the home long ago of a leading local family, I see a sadly empty field where until recently a grand old hotel testified to an earlier, more prosperous time when Barre dreamed of overcoming its isolation from a rapidly industrializing society. Destroyed by fire, the structure and the memories it once inspired have given way to weeds. One shop on the Common speaks of more recent change: He reminded his hostile colleagues that the colonists "fled from your Tyranny to a then uncultivated and unhospitable Country And yet, actuated by Principles of true english Lyberty, they met all these hardships with pleasure, compared with those they suffered in their own Country, from the hands of those who should have been their Friends.
In this speech, the colonel coined the phrase "Sons of Liberty. Albert Clark meets me in front of the Historical Society. A retired local teacher, he brings good humor and welcome enthusiasm to our project. Clark is what is often, and somewhat condescendingly, called a "local historian," as if that designation implied an antiquarian obsession with community genealogy. But like most of the men and women who energize small historical societies throughout the United States, he does not see himself as the hagiographer of Barre's elite families, most of whom have long since moved away.
He loves history's less fortunate people, those who had to support families by their own hard labor on this rocky soil. Anyone who has ever lived in Barre, anyone who paid a tax or claimed a few acres of land, merits serious attention, and although Clark's curiosity about the past seldom extends beyond Barre and its immediate neighbors, he reflects carefully on the evidence before us— artifacts as well as written records—always open to new and challenging interpretations of the familiar materials that he has so fiercely sought to preserve.
I have worked with people like Clark in other places—a fisherman in East Hampton, New York, who searched the woods and waters for a forgotten colonial past, and a teamster in North Carolina who mapped the great wagon roads of the eighteenth century as they ran through his own rural county. Like harbor pilots who guide outsiders safely through the back-channels and turbulent waters, these storytellers have helped me link larger narratives of war and nationalism, economic development, and racial tension to the experiences of local figures such as Quork Walker.
Clark and I stroll across the Common, chatting about shared concerns. A section of the park has been set aside for war monuments.