Monthly Archives: March 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, meet your newest national historic landmarks

Thirteen new sites just made the list, including Camp Nelson in Kentucky, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s house in Connecticut, Honey Springs Battlefield in Oklahoma, and an eighteenth-century frame house in Virginia.

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Filed under Civil War, Colonial America, Museums and Historic Sites

Want your own antebellum house?

If you do, and you’ve got a hefty wallet, there’s a nice one headed for the auction block in Lincoln County, TN.  And this one gets bonus points for a Rev War connection.  The occupant’s father was Joseph Greer, a King’s Mountain veteran who reportedly carried news of the battle to Philadelphia.  (His compass is on display at the Tennessee State Museum.)

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Filed under Tennessee History

“A change of scene might help me”

On January 23, 1841 Abraham Lincoln wrote a letter to his law partner, John Todd Stuart, who had been elected to Congress as a Whig.  This is the same letter in which Lincoln referred to himself as “the most miserable man living,” a reference to the melancholy spell he went through in the wake of his broken engagement with Mary Todd and his friend Joshua Speed’s departure for Kentucky.

There’s an interesting passage near the end of this document that isn’t quoted as frequently as the references to Lincoln’s bout with depression: “The matter you speak of on my account, you may attend to as you say, unless you shall hear of my condition forbidding it. I say this, because I fear I shall be unable to attend to any bussiness here, and a change of scene might help me.”

What “matter” was Lincoln referring to?  Maybe it had something to do with a position Stuart tried to secure for him later that year.  In March, Stuart wrote to Secretary of State Daniel Webster, recommending Lincoln for the post of chargé d’affaires in Bogotá.  The post was already occupied by an Illinoisan, and Stuart argued that if it became vacant it should be “filled by a Citizen of the same state,” commending Lincoln as a man with “talents of a very high order” and “a favorite with the people.”

Lincoln never ended up in Bogotá, of course, but today there’s a school named for him there.  It’s hard for me to see him carrying out diplomatic assignments in a South American capital; that’s quite a long way from a Kentucky log cabin.  Then again, so is Washington, D.C.

Plaza Mayor de Bogota in 1846, by Edward Mark Walhouse. Wikimedia Commons

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Filed under Abraham Lincoln

Historic sites and sequestration

CBS News talked to NPS Director Jon Jarvis about how sequestration will affect services and operations at the national parks:

“Running a national park is like running a small city,” Jarvis said. “We do everything from utilities to law enforcement to search and rescue to firefighting to proving public information when the visitor shows up. And when you take 5 percent out of that, you have a direct impact on all of those services.”

Looks like we’re in for closed facilities, reduced hours, cancelled programs, and less maintenance (which means uncollected trash, uncleared paths, uncut grass). And it’s not just the parks themselves that will take a hit.

As many agencies have argued, blindly cutting the parks budget, Jarvis said, has a domino effect on local economies across the country. A newly released 2011 NPS report on benefits to local communities from national park visitation shows that park visitors spent $12.95 billion in local gateway regions, meaning within roughly 60 miles of the park. Nationally, that contribution created 251,600 jobs, $9.34 billion in labor income and $16.50 in value added.

To see how the cuts might affect specific parks, check out these articles on Guilford Courthouse, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania, and MLK.

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Filed under Museums and Historic Sites