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tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  August 26, 2015 11:38pm-12:08am EDT

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you begin to realize all the small details you would have missed before. a good example is the when i first began to reenact, the haversack when i carried my rations i put it on the wrong side of my body and a soldier said "that's the incorrect side. that will get in the way of getting to your cartridges in your cartridge box. something that never would have occurred to me. then when i have to follow the same actions and drill that becomes clear. it's little details it fills in that enriches the whole experience. american history tv continues in prime time thursday with a look at world war i.
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first the discussion on german-occupied belgium and the humanitarian aid it received as part of an international effort led by herbert hoover. also look at woodrow wilson's second term as president from the time the u.s. first entered the war in 1917. florence harding once said she had only one hobby and that was warren harding. she was a significant force in her husband's presidency on adept at handling her medium, despite her husband's infidelities, his death in
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office, hardships, as well as her own poor health, she would help define the role of the modern first lady. florence harding on c-span's original series "first ladies: influence and image." examining the public and private lives of the women who filled the position of first lady and their influence on the presidency. from martha washington to michelle obama. sundays at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history t on c-span 3. each week, american history tv's american heart facts takes you to museums and historic places. up next, we travel to philadelphia to learn about the museum of the american revolution. located two blocks from independence hall, the museum is scheduled to open in early 2017. >> the idea for the museum goes back a century when descendants of george washington's family put up for sale the tent that housed him in every campaign of the revolution.
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it was acquired by the minister from the valley forge era and that launched a century of collecting and launched the idea of a museum to tell the entire story of the revolution. the collections of the museum are incomparable. they have no peer. we have objects related to washington which truly are unique. one of a kind. and they bring to life his leadership, his incredible role in keeping the continental army together and never wavering from his goal of success. at the same time, we have objects that represent the common foot soldier, the cavalry man we have objects that reflect the role of not just american soldiers but british and french and native americans. so our collection will enable to us to present the entire story of the american revolution all to come to philadelphia. scott stevenson is the director
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of collections and interpretation for the museum and he's the ideal person to oversee the creation of these exhibits. he is ph.d. historian in the american revolution. at the same time, he has been a screenwriter for historical productions and he's created exhibits. he's deeply experienced not just in history and meaning of the revolution but the material culture. the objects, the artifacts, the equipment that were used right about the revolution. so i pulled together a selection of objects from the collection. i'll give you some of the highlights and sort of an indication of the big storyline that we're telling. the first gallery you'll come up n to will take visitors back to the end of the french and indian war. so about 1763. there's a new british monarch, the first british-born monarch
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in the 18th century, george iii. he's young, very vibrant. he considers himself to be a real patriot king. americans of the future revolutionary generation are extremely patriotic. they have just participated in one of the most dramatic victories in modern history and are now part of really the richest most extensive empire since the classical age. and the first object i want to show you is an engraved soldier powder. this is a cow horn that was carved in 1763 to reflect that great victory. so you can see a crown and "gr" or the latin georges rex, king george iii. so this is that new british monarch. it's actually engraved with a
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scene of the city of havana in cuba which is some of the fortifications around havana. british ships in the harbor. the british and american forces had taken cuba from the span fish 1762. and this horn was carved to commemorate the embarkation of those troops. the scene was illuminated at the embarkation of the british troops, july 17, 1763. and so this is really marking a moment in which britons and americans, colonial british americans were reveling in being part of this magnificent empire. they expected to reap the fronts that have victory. they had defeated the spanish, they had defeated the french and
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their allies. so britain was left with a vastly expanded empire. not just in north america, but in india, in africa, one of the last actions of the war actually took place when the british took manila in the philippines. so it was really the first global war, sometimes known as the seven year's war or the french and indian war here in north america. and so this horn is a great sort of embodiment of the optimism that colonial americans had at that point in their history. but, of course, shortly after the riotous celebrations settle down, someone has to pay the bill and this is when reality sets in.
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so the story we'll tell, then, begins just after this great victorious moment when british policymakers have got to face up to the cost of victory. the price of victory. now that you have something like 80,000 catholic french inhabitants, former french colonists in north america, tens of thousands of native americans who formerly had been part of the french empire in north america, they're all now subjects of king george iii. so armies have to be stationed in america, fleets have got to be stationed not just in america but in south america and really policing this new british empire. and so this is the roots of the odious stamp act which many people, of course, view as the beginning of the revolutionary story. of course, it takes another 10 years for there actually to be shooting that starts here in north america. but that's really the roots of the revolutionary story. britain has to raise revenue, try to cover these costs. it's a common fallacy that the stamp act was to pay for the cost of that war. that price has actually been borne by british taxpayers who had been squeezed just like we often say today, can't afford any more taxes. they were looking at the
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americans and saying, "you know, they're fairly lightly taxed people, make they can bear the cost of their defense." so a lot of the next decade, we have an image of what the gallery where we're going to tell this story will be located under the limbs of boston's liberty tree, a recreation of boston's liberty tree where we'll talk about that decade from 1765 to 1775 when americans begin to articulate their views of their -- first their english liberties that are being infringed by these acts and taxes on the part of the british. and one of the objects we'll show in here is this -- this is a chinese porcelain punch bowl. so this was used to serve alcoholic punches in taverns and homes in britain and america. so this was actually produced in china but for the export trade
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to britain and particularly america. it has here the arms of liberty and the figure of john wilkes who was a british opposition politician against the -- sort of rallies support in britain against the administration of lord butte and he became a very popular figure for the american sons of liberty and they would often use wilkes' image in their propaganda when they were protesting for american liberty all through the 1760s and 1770s. that's a wonderful evocative piece. as american colonists begin shouting very loudly and increasingly loud about their rights as englishmen and their
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feeling that there is a conspiracy to enslave them under way in the british parliament, the whole issue of slavery, of chattel slavery increasingly the contradiction of these calls for liberty with the presence of slavery particularly in america, of course it existed in britain at the time, but it was particularly widespread in america becomes louder and louder and so this next item is a really incredibly rare and important work. this is a volume of poems, published in london in 1773 by a young woman named phillis wheatley who's the first published african-american poet in american history. phillis wheatley had been enslaved on the west coast of africa, probably in gambia or again senegal brought in the 1950s. she was sold to a family by the name of wheatley in massachusetts and the daughter in the family taught her to read
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and write. and she had a real natural talent for writing verse are. and, of course, at the time this was an extraordinary development. so much so that there were those as she began publishing pieces in the newspaper and they began to be circulated there was actually a trial held in boston where people like john hancock and other significant figures in the community were brought together to basically put her on trial, ask her questions to try to determine if it was possible that this african-american woman could have written poetry like this. of course, she passed and they actually wrote a testimonial saying that they believed that she, in fact, had been the talented writer who produced this poetry. and so in 1773, she traveled to london and this volume was published. it's also remarkable in that we
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have an engraved image, presumably a good physical likeness, of phillis wheatley. this volume, i'll turn the page to show you, is also -- it would be wonderful even by itself, but it is one of the few examples that have actually come down to us with phillis wheatley's signature on the volume. and it just doesn't get better than that. trying to find the sort of tangible objects that allow us to discuss the very important contributions of african-americans to the founding period of our nation. it can be a real struggle as a curator to try to find this material. so we are incredibly blessed to have that volume available to us and to share with our visitors once we're open. and that will be in in that same
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gallery located next the liberty tree so visitors can reflect on the contradiction between these calls for liberty and the continued persistence of slavery. a couple of other items. these are later bindings of two 18th century publications. of course, at the end of this decade of increasing division between americans and britons over this issue of taxation and representation in the empire sort of comes to a head in the aftermath of the boston tea party and the coercive acts that are passed by parliament in 1774. and so delegates from all but one of the colonies come together in philadelphia at the first continental congress. this is the fall of 1774. those delegates meet in a small building that still stands today
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right across the future museum of the american revolution. carpenter's hall. and this is often known as the first continental congress. so this is a first printing of the journals of the proceedings of congress. in this case the first continental congress held in philadelphia in september 5, 1774 and was published just down the street from where the museum will be located at the london coffee house. this is at the corner of market and front street in oldtown philadelphia. and this wonderful emblem that we have in the center, you can see there's the hands, each one representing one of the colonies with a pillar and liberty cap at the top and the words "magna carta" beneath. still reminding us that these delegates, even on the eve of the revolutionary war, are still appealing to their rights as englishmen and to those founding documents of the english
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constitution to try to define their place in the empire and seek redress for these grievances. now, of course, not everyone felt that this was the right way to go. they were still -- this is by no means the consensus of all colonial americans that we should be pushing literally to the brink of war, to the point where the congress is calling for americans to form voluntary military associations and prepare to fight britain in the fall of 1774. so this is sort of a piece of opposition literature published in new york and i think it's kind of funny to look now because it seems very contemporary in a sense. "what think ye of the congress now?" which we might say in 2015 as well. "how far the americans are bound to abide and execute the decisions of the late congress." so this is sort of a loyalist tract calling into question the legitimacy of that group of delegates here in philadelphia at the first continental congress.
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and, of course, this is beginnings of what will split into tories and patriots during the revolution and result in tens of thousands of americans who chose to exile themselves as a result of the revolution and become founders. many people in canada, for instance, today can trace ancestry to loyalist ancestors who left places like new york, boston and philadelphia in order to settle in canada after the war. this is another engraved power horn dating to 1775. it's a wonderful object to transition from the pre-war decade of americans appealing to the britons as shared inheritors of a tradition in british liberty and transitioning to making that decision to declare independence and go their own separate way.
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so this is a powder horn that belonged to a man named william waller, a virginian who lived near what would be shepherdstown, virginia. not far from washington, d.c. it has a lot of the slogans that we associate with the revolutionary movement. most recognizable "liberty or death." these words reportedly spoken by virginian patrick henry at the beginning of the war. i'll take this carefully out of the mount. you can see "kill or be killed" which is a fairly sobering almost contemporary sounding slogan. and appeal to heaven which was something that appeared on new england flags at the same and was also a very popular slogan at the beginning of the war. the date 1775 and curiously this crown -- so if you'll remember
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on that havana powder horn also a crown in that case with gr 3. sometimes people who see this horn are a little confused and say, well, wait a minute, this guy was a virginian fighting in the continental army, why would he have a crown on his powder horn? but, of course, in 1775, these men are still fighting to restore their rights as englishmen within the empire. so it's perfectly consistent with that to appeal to the king, to see the king as the person who's going to intercede with parliament. parliament is the group that is oppressing and trying to enslave americans. of course, all that changes between summer of 1775 and the summer of 1776 in which americans finally when they hear that the king has refused to read a petition sent by the second continental congress, the olive branch petition that he has declared them to be in rebellion, essentially taken them out of his protection, they then encourage by immigrant
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englishman by the name of thomas paine who writes his famous pamphlet "common sense" in july of 1776 declare independence. and this newspaper volume, this is a bound volume of all of the papers from philadelphia publication known as the pennsylvania evening post from 1776. i've turned it to the page on saturday, july 6, 1776. and this is the first newspaper printing in english of the declaration of independence. and so while many viewers will have seen the large broad sides published by john dunlap and other printers, it would have been posted up in public places, this is probably the way many colonial americans first read the words of the declaration of independence published in
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newspapers. of course first in philadelphia but then quickly scattering out through the other colonies and then eventually by august appearing in print in london itself. so independence had actually been already declared on july 2 of 1776. we celebrate the fourth. the fourth is the day that the declaration of independence, the final version of the declaration, was adopted by congress and then it sent off and printed. this is tuesday, july 2, 1776. ou can see things going on in providence and newport and new haven and philadelphia and literally the news, we can imagine, must have arrived very late in the day because they had set the type, they were at the end of the news columns just before the classified ads and here, this day the continental congress declared the united colonies free and independent states. that is the announcement of the birth of the united states.
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and then "to be sold, the brig teen two friends." and we move the classifieds. so i love showing people that much as the declaration. so that's the birth of the united states. of course, nothing on the fourth because that's the day that the declaration is finally being put into its final form and voted and adopted by congress. but at the end of the first page all of these lines here are indictments against the king.hee by his declaring us out of his protection. so that's saying basically, you know, my armies and navys are going to attack you. and then he says "he is at this
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time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny already begun." this cap here, this fragment of a cap originally belonged to what americans referred to as those foreign mercenaries. the hessian soldiers from one of several principalities in central europe in the german-speaking states of central europe. so this is a fus leer cap. this is actually an archaeological fragment so it was actually recovered from the delaware river near -- if you've ever flown into philadelphia international airport and as you're landing if you look at the river to your side, there are all the remnants of a bunch of barriers that americans try to keep the british from taking philadelphia in 1777. and at some point over the
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winter of 1777/'78, a boat load of hessians got caught up on a river obstruction and got caught up in the river with all of their baggage and this was recovered around the first world war when some corps of engineers were dredging the channel. so this is actually a brass guilt -- the metal piece, this would have had a wool liner and would have been worn on the head of the hessian fus leer. would have served in the campaign driving washington's army through new jersey, around new york and through new jersey, retreat into pennsylvania, could well have been worn in the actions right up to the crossing and the battles of trenton and princeton. this soldier may well have been part of the gar so of new yorisd
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over 1777/1778. that same winter, the american army, george washington's army, was encamped about 20 miles west of philadelphia. the british army had taken the rebel capital of philadelphia and was hoping to split off philadelphia and the northern colonies from the southern colonies and end the rebellion. washington's army marches into valley forge about 20 miles west and this is actually a painting. it will be very recognizable to people. it's probably one of the most iconic images of the american revolution. it was painted after the civil war, so it's about a century later as a commemorative work but very evocative of the date, december 19, 1777, as washington's army marches along the gulf road into its winter quarters at valley forge.
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and a couple of the objects i have here would have been witnesses to that winter encampment. the first is a pair of silver camp cups here. if you can see them. and these pass down through the washington -- through relatives of general washington who had this "w" engreyed on them later and the camp cup owned and used by general washington during the war. these two are part of a set 1206 camp cups. what's remarkable is the original receipt has survived. so we know these were made by a philadelphia silver smith by the name of edmund milne working at second and market street in old city, philadelphia. washington paid for these cups just two days before he and the continental army marched through philadelphia, right down chestnut street literally past the future front door of the museum of the american
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revolution. they passed congress, which was drawn up on the steps of independence hall. john adams wrote to abigail adams describing the scene, he said they looked great, they were very spry as they marched, though not all in step and he thought they needed work to look as professional as he thought they should but he was very buoyed at the sight of seeing this vast army marching through philadelphia. pretty much like the fellows in the painting are doing. of course, about a month later almost to the day the british army marches down that same street and occupies philadelphia. so this was one of those many, many dark days of the american revolution. so washington's army marches into valley forge and this was one of the winterings, as she did ever winter through the eight years of the war, that martha washington joined general washingt washington. in many ways one of the rarest
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objects in the collection that i'll share with you now. this is a volume that was owned by martha washington. it is a -- you can see her signature "m. washington." and it's an early edition printed in england. it was known as a help and guide to christian families published in london in 1752. so quite likely a book she may well, you can imagine, have taken along with her to camp to spend the winter at valley forge. the top of the page is missing, almost certainly it was clipped by an autograph collector in the 19th century, presumably her name would have been written out there as well and it was probably clipped by a collector. and if any viewers have that in your collection, we would love to reunite the book and the autograph. but there is her signature,
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martha washington. so it's entirely possible to imagine that that's a book that spent the winter at valley forge along with the general and his suffering soldiers. a few other objects, again, an object that quite likely was also used in valley forge, the soldier's canteen. it seems like a fairly mundane object but there's really probably about half a dozen canteens that have survived from the revolution with this surcharge, which tells us that -- the state's surcharge which tells us this was the property of the continental army that was actually marked. there's an order that came out midway through the war because so much of the material they were having trouble keeping track. soldiers would be discharge and take their gear home and, of course, perennially short on supplies. there was an effort by marking weapons


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