New York City Day #5

Another day that has flown by! This morning, we had a lecture to finish up the actual events of the American Revolution. It was great; we discussed slaves' roles in the American Revolution, as well as ways that the Americans gathered support when their morale got low. We talked a lot about how American patriotic symbols are different and similar to those in other countries, and discussed similarities between the American Revolution and the Vietnam War and Iraq War. We ended the morning with a discussion of the last battle of the war, Yorktown, Virginia.

A few interesting points I learned:

  • While in Valley Forge for the winter, the Continental Army were forced to use "The Vault" to use the bathroom. The Vault was basically a series of shallow ditches where soldiers went to the bathroom. If they were caught not using The Vault, they could be punished or even put to death, because of the diseases they could be spreading.
  • Benedict Arnold, who committed treason against America by revealing the internal plans to the base at West Point, NY (on the Hudson River), was very unsuccessful fighting for the British. In fact, he died in England broke, alone, and ill. While fighting for America, he was honored as a huge hero; he actually helped America in her fight for freedom more than he hurt the cause!
  • When the French secretly joined America as an ally against the British, in order to funnel French government money to America without the public and the British knowing, the French created a dummy corporation called the Hortalez Company. The company ran from 1776-1777, secretly funneling money from France to America for help with troops, supplies, and the navy.
  • Massachusetts and Rhode Island actually supported the continued trade of slaves, because of the massive amount of money they could make in the mere trade of slaves, even though they did not use slaves much in their daily life; in addition, they did not morally support the idea of slavery, but there was huge economic incentives to continue supporting it.
After lunch, we read the Declaration of Independence aloud, then discussed the different meanings of it, as well as the Founding Fathers' hopes for America. It was great to be able to discuss it; I got some good ideas to make the Declaration understandable and interesting.

Once we finished discussing the Declaration, we headed uptown towards the Bronx to an area of Manhattan called Washington Heights, because it is an area of highlands. This is the area of land that George Washington fortified before abandoning New York for safety in New Jersey. The area had two forts that the Maryland and Virginia Regiments of the American Revolution defended: Fort Washington and Fort Tryon. Fort Tryon was eventually bought by John Rockefeller, a New York businessman. He donated it to the City of New York, and it is now a beautiful park and gardens.

Once G.W. crossed the Hudson River to New Jersey, he was in safety at Fort Lee, directly across the river from Fort Washington. Washington correctly figured that it was be extremely difficult for the British to attack Fort Lee and New Jersey from the Hudson River, because of the palisades, or cliffs, that one would have to scale in order to read walkable land in New Jersey. To the right, notice two pictures: the top one is of the New Jersey Palisades, just south down the Hudson from Fort Lee. Notice the cliffs on the other side, and think about how tough it would be to climb them, with a 45-pound back on your back, from a boat, in the middle of the night, potentially with people shooting down at you. Tough! The second picture is of the George Washington Bridge, which is I-95, the same road that runs through Boston. Notice how high up the side the riverbank the bridge enters the land; where the cars drive into New Jersey is how high the soldiers had to climb to attack the Continental Army!

Signing off....

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