History Monday #76

The city that never sleeps needs a nightlight

In a New York minute everything can change. Admittedly, today’s event took longer than a New York minute, however long of a measure that time is. So, start spreading the news, an important structure demonstrated that its construction brought light to inspire so many including this #HistoryMonday post.

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On this day in 1886, The Statue of Liberty is completed, and dedicated by Pres. Grover Cleveland. Originally a gift of friendship from the people of France in commemoration of the centennial anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and Franco-American relations during the American Revolution, the statue is erected in the New York Harbor just over a decade later.

The official name of the statue is “Liberty Enlightening the World,” and was conceived by French historian Edouard de Laboulaye during the American Civil War in 1865. Following this conception, French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, designed the 151-foot statue depicting Columbia personified as a woman with an uplifted arm holding a torch. The steel supports for the structure of the statue were designed by Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, the latter famous for his design of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The exterior covering of the statue was made of copper. The tablet in Liberty’s hand is inscribed with July IV MDCCLXXVI which denotes the Fourth of July in Roman numerals.

Congress had approved a site for the statue in February 1877 Bedloe’s Island, upon a suggestion by Bartholdi. Harper’s Weekly and other enterprising individuals helped to encourage fundraising efforts to build the statue.

By May 1884, the statue was completed in France, and three months later the Americans laid the cornerstone for its pedestal in New York Harbor. Nearly a year later, the Statue of Liberty arrived with building instructions for the Americans.

As the copper sheets were attached to the statue and the last rivet of the monument was fitted on October 28, 1886, Pres. Cleveland along with numerous French and American dignitaries celebrated the accomplishment.

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Eventually the pedestal was inscribed with a sonnet “The New Colossus,” by American poet Emma Lazarus with aspirational verses for incoming émigrés in 1892. This was done thanks to nearby Ellis Island, which served as the chief entry station for immigrants to the United States, for the next 32 years. Lady Liberty as the statue has been euphemized, was one of the first sights for new immigrants to the U.S. before being processed at Ellis Island.

By the 20th Century, the copper had begun to oxidize, and the statue took on its now iconic green hue. The torch in the right arm didn’t suffer this fate as it was coated with a golden covering over the copper-plating.

Ralph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World began a campaign in 1916 to illuminate the area and celebrate its importance in New York. Eventually in 1924, Pres. Coolidge designated the statue as a National Monument. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island would eventually become a single entity as a National Monument. By 1956, Bedloe’s Island was renamed Liberty Island.

The statue underwent major restorations in the 1980s, the early 2000s, and even the last decade. A new standalone Statue of Liberty Museum began construction in 2016 that would offer access to many more visitors beyond those that visit the museum located in the pedestal. This new museum opened in May of this year.

Among similar notable statues, the Statue of Liberty is ranked by height somewhere around the 3rd spot depending on the list. Ahead of the Statue of Liberty are a statue dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi’s deputy Prime Minister and the Spring Temple Buddha. The Statue of Liberty is thus taller than Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Michelangelo’s David in Florence, Italy. Nicknamed the New Colossus in Emma Lazarus’s poem, the Statue of Liberty is also twice as large as the original Colossus at Rhodes. The Statue of Liberty is able to accomplish this thanks to its pedestal being nearly as tall as the statue itself. Among American statues, the Statue of Liberty is second in height, being beaten by Birth of the New World/Estatua de Colón located in Arecibo, Puerto Rico commemorating the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World.

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New York’s iconic skyline is easily recognizable with the inclusion of the Statue of Liberty. Even post-apocalyptic works of television and film feature pieces of the statue as a clue to the location of the characters in the work, chief among these is 1968’s Planet of the Apes. Likenesses of the statue are also included as part of political and athletic logos, including the New York Rangers, the New York Liberty, and the Libertarian Party. References and likenesses of the Statue of Liberty are often paired with Uncle Sam as the female counterpart to America personified.

Have you visited the Statue of Liberty?

🗽

 

History Monday #46

Today in history, an example of the dangers with the Church and State working in concert

I wanted to fire up the wayback machine to look at an event in the midst of medieval history today. I’ll confess, much of my historical knowledge pertains to events post 16th Century. So, I will admit I had to study up on this event for #HistoryMonday.
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Jacques de Molay (1243-1314)
 
Just over 7 centuries ago on 18 March 1314, Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney had their criminal sentence carried out. These two men along with other leaders of the Order of Knights Templar were judged guilty for heresy by leaders of the Catholic Church and King Philip IV of France. Both men were Masters with the Order, shortened oftentimes to Templars. Jacques de Molay was not only a Master for a specific region but Grand Master of the Order. Geoffri de Charney was the regional Master of the Order in Normandy.
 
King Philip had de Molay, et al. arrested in France seven years prior on Friday 13 October 1307. This date is said to be one of the origins of Friday the 13th. Among the charges of arrest were idolatry and renunciation of Christ. Additional charges included improper consecration of the Eucharist and promotion of fornication by de Molay and other Templars. Philip had an ally in Pope Clement V who questioned de Molay and his men for the charges leveled against them. 
 
Philip had kidnapped Pope Boniface VIII some years earlier and charged Boniface with similar charges of heresy. The kidnapping of Boniface caused his death soon after. Boniface was replaced by Benedict XI who died very early into his papal reign. After Benedict’s death, cardinals elected Clement to pope and convinced by Philip to move the papal residences and of course power to Avignon, France.
 
Clement was an early supporter and a puppet as Pope for Philip (Yes, I know that’s a lengthy alliteration). Despite his loyalty to Philip, Clement tried to remain unbiased and wanted to give de Molay and the Templars a fair trial, but still disbanded the Order thanks to pressure from Philip. Given the severity of charges and related to heresy, de Molay and other Templars received sentences of death by burning at the stake. Two other Templars, Hugues de Peraud and Godefroi de Gonneville accepted life imprisonment.
 
The Templar leaders had been pressure to confess to the alleged crimes by French cardinals acting on behalf of King Philip. Pope Clement had no choice but abiding by the sentence against de Molay and the others. Eventually, de Molay and the other Templars recanted of their confessions, admitting they had confessed under duress. Pope Clement had absolved the Templars in 1308 of their alleged crimes and restored sacramental privilege to them in a document known as the Chinon Parchment. However, this parchment was ignored and hidden until 2001 and the sentence carried out according to King Philip’s wishes.
 
The tragedy of King Philip’s desire to arrest and punish the Templars including de Molay stems from an inability to pay his debt to the Templars for their military assistance in his war with the English. Philip hoped to disband the Order and absorb their funds into the nation’s treasury.
 
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There don’t seem to be immediate effects of the dissolution of the Order of the Knights Templar and de Molay’s execution. Several effects for the major actors in this event would lead to a long-lasting papal dynasty in France and Anglo-Franco wars for the next several decades.
 
Common Symbol of the Knights Templar
 
Most of the effects were realized within Freemasonry. By some accounts as early as 1780, a new Knights Templar Order convened in Ireland and began a fraternal relationship with Freemasons in the United Grand Lodge of England. As Freemasonry grew, the Knights Templar became an appendant body within the Order and promotes Christian virtue as Freemasons continue instruction in the Order.
In more recent times, in 1929 a similar pathway was created within Freemasonry to commemorate de Molay’s legacy. DeMolay International is an appendant body for boys aged 12 to 21 interested in joining a regular Masonic Lodge but are not old enough in some jurisdictions for initiation. Similar efforts exist with Freemasons for young girls known as Job’s Daughters. Freemasons also encourage adult female membership in the Order of the Eastern Star. These auxiliaries of Masonic Lodges are a means to include whole families within Freemasonry.

History Monday #12

In 1803, after a few weeks of negotiation the U.S. doubled in size.

Another week begins and so it’s time for History Monday once again. Like Mr. Peabody and Sherman let’s go back in time to an important event in history. Today’s event is a commemoration of a real estate purchase agreement after a relatively short negotiation process.

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On this day, 215 years ago in 1803 representatives of the nations of France and the young United States of America signed the Louisiana Purchase Treaty. Of note, one of the main signatories and representatives on the American side was James Monroe who would become President a short time later.

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The impetus for this sale was caused by a loss of shipping ability by American merchants thanks to shaky allegiances and hostilities by European superpowers. American merchants had been able to use the Mississippi River tentatively by Spanish for the first few decades of America’s existence beginning in the Constitutional period. Yet, in a surprising and abrupt move the Spanish ended the treaty that permitted Americans to use the Mississippi River and the Port of New Orleans a year prior to the Louisiana Purchase.

Americans had already seen trouble on the horizon after the Spanish had ceded the Louisiana Territory and its significant waterway the Mississippi River to the French a year prior. U.S. officials feared the French, led by Napoleon Bonaparte would constrain the Port of New Orleans and the river in an attempt to cause burden upon Great Britain and by consequence the United States.

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Pres. Jefferson sent James Monroe and Robert Livingston to negotiate a purchase of the Port of New Orleans to guarantee access to the Gulf of Mexico for international trade. One day before Livingston’s arrival, the French official in charge of the negotiation sent word to Livingston that France was interested in selling not only New Orleans but the entire Louisiana Territory.

As this same message was communicated to Pres. Jefferson and other U.S. government officials, the negotiations to purchase the Louisiana Territory and New Orleans were expedited. In less than three weeks from the offer and the ink drying, the United States doubled its land area and expanded its borders from one end of the continent to the other.

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The impact for us today is seen in the expansiveness of the boundaries of the United States of America. Pres. Jefferson announced the United States acquisition of the Louisiana Territory on Independence Day in the same year — 1803. Nearly a year later, Pres. Jefferson ordered explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to survey and report the features of the new territory.

Today, we see the monument to that expedition in St. Louis in the Gateway Arch. As more and more Americans experienced the idea of Manifest Destiny in the first few decades after the Louisiana Purchase, the Western half of the United States became more populated. No longer were the population centers in the U.S. named Manhattan, Philadelphia, Richmond, et. al. Now included, the names Los Angeles, New Orleans, Dallas, and Seattle are included as American population centers.

We also see the effects of the Louisiana Purchase whether we realize it or not based on the transport of products in the commodities market. Barges travel down the Upper and Lower sections of the Mississippi River carrying coal, corn, soybeans, and much more to various markets.

For others, we see the influence of the Mississippi River in our American culture thanks to a short-tenured steamboat Captain named Samuel Clemens who would later write novels and short stories under the name Mark Twain.

We see recognition of the first American explorers of this territory in various cities located in that territory on the names of buildings, schools, monuments, etc. Even in their hometowns, we see similar commemorations. Even as close as 25 miles from my current town, U.S. Route 31 is labeled the Lewis & Clark Parkway in Clarksville (named after William Clark’s Brother, George Rogers Clark).

I’d argue that as the United States started its initial expansion from the first 13 colonies into the Northwest Territory, this led to the Louisiana Purchase, which led to the Annexation of the Republic of Texas, and in turn the Gadsden Purchase, and eventually the purchases of Alaska & Hawaii. This ambition to expand our borders and our influence into new frontiers led even to our drive to land on the moon and eventually other planets. Americans, as a nation have an innate sense to push past the boundaries and establish themselves in new settings. Of course, extraplanetary expansion might be a much more unique acquisition for the U.S. since there’s not really a recognized owner of the Moon or other planets. I don’t know that will stop Americans from expanding to these locales.

Additionally, we see that many Americans travel to view much of the Louisiana Purchase that is still unspoiled by human influence each year on vacation. Travels to Yellowstone, Badlands, and Yosemite National Parks are common among Americans annually. Likewise, Americans have embraced a romanticized exploration of the Louisiana Territory by modern steamboats traveling the Upper & Lower sections of the Mississippi, Columbia, and Missouri Rivers. Admittedly, any of these particular cruises are appealing to this wayfaring soul.  So, I’m glad there’s that much more of the United States to see thanks to the French officials selling the Louisiana Territory to our nation.