Sunday, September 25, 2011


That's right you heard it hear first, Booth saves Lincoln. In a selfless act of bravery Booth single handed saved the life of Lincoln from certain death. And to blow your mind even more it happened in New Jersey. By now you must have totally discredited my other works and called me nuts and label me the worst historian ever, just wait a second and keep reading. I am talking about the same Lincoln and Booth name that you all know however, different family members. I am talking about an event that took place before the night of April 14, 1865 in Ford's Theatre. I am talking about a chance meeting on a train platform that saved one mans life and perhaps some dignity for another mans family.


Now, who was Robert Todd Lincoln and what was he doing in Jersey City, New Jersey. Robert was the oldest of the Lincoln's children. He attended the Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire which, according to their website, has practiced the Harkness method of teaching since 1781 (Your welcome for the free plug PEA). After graduating, Lincoln then made his way to Ha'vad. There, Lincoln was a real party boy, joining, not one but, two fraternities. But it was on a return trip home to D.C. sometime in late 1863/early 1864 that Lincoln had a date with destiny. A date and event that is often overlooked and forgotten.


Edwin Booth was born 1833,  into a family shrouded in mystery. Booth's parents ran away to the United States to start a new and secret family. Booth's father was Junius Brutus Booth who was a pretty famous actor, dare I compare him as the Orlando Bloom of his time and his mother Mary Ann Holmes who was just an average plain Jane kinda gal, who fell in love with  the world famous Junius. Anyways, Edwin was the the first of ten children, I guess there wasn't much to do at the Booth family home. Edwin followed in his father's footsteps, no not as a guy who leaves his first family behind but, as an actor. As an actor Booth was pretty good and quite famous. During his career he not only toured every major American city of the mid 19th century but even preformed in front of European audiences. But on that same day Lincoln was heading home, Booth was also standing on that train platform. And as if i was making this up, which I am not, Booth was heading to a close friend's home, Mr. John T. Ford (That's right Mr. Ford, the owner of Ford's Theatre). So Edwin Booth a famous American actor just going to visit a friend when the only thing that could be the silver lining on his family name fell squarely on his shoulders.

Now the date has been disputed as the only recording of the event came from Lincoln himself in 1909, some 46 years after the day. As both men entered the Central Railroad Terminal, they both purchased tickets and made their ways to the platform. Both men were heading south, Lincoln to D.C. and Booth to Richmond, Va. So for some reason Lincoln felt in necessary to retell the Booth story and make him basically a hero. As Lincoln told Richard Watson Gilder, the editor of The Century Magazine, it was like any other time he took the train.

"The incident occurred while a group of passengers were late at night purchasing their sleeping car places from the conductor who stood on the station platform at the entrance of the car. The platform was about the height of the car floor, and there was of course a narrow space between the platform and the car body. There was some crowding, and I happened to be pressed by it against the car body while waiting my turn. In this situation the train began to move, and by the motion I was twisted off my feet, and had dropped somewhat, with feet downward, into the open space, and was personally helpless, when my coat collar was vigorously seized and I was quickly pulled up and out to a secure footing on the platform. Upon turning to thank my rescuer I saw it was Edwin Booth, whose face was of course well known to me, and I expressed my gratitude to him, and in doing so, called him by name."

Talk about Booth being in the right place at the right time. This shows that Booth was a pretty stand up guy, because he had no idea who Lincoln was and probably would rescue anyone he saw in peril. And for Lincoln, it must have been a thrill to be saved by the famous actor, I mean imagine if Brad Pitt or Mark Wahlberg saved your life, you'd crap your pants. Lincoln never retold the story to anyone in his family, not then and not later. He did retell the story to his friends while serving in the later part of the Civil War. Booth received letters of thanks for Lincoln's friend and commander Colonel Badeau and from General Ulysses S. Grant, come on Grant, that is impressive. After the letters to Booth in 1864ish and Lincoln's retelling in 1909 the story has fallen into the cracks of history and I think you'll only need one guess why.

                                                            National Archives

Well if you guess John Wilkes Booth and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln as the reason then congratulations, you got it. Now aside from being a failed actor, JWB is best known for assassinating perhaps greatest American President ever (Definitely in the top five). After the events at Ford's Theatre, the Booth name was tainted forever. For Edwin, the actions of JWB destroyed him personally, his family name and the nation. Booth even wrote to a friend, 

"I have received the unhappy tidings of the suspicions of a brother's crime, but because a good man and a most justly honored and patriotic ruler has fallen in an hour of national joy by the hand of an assassin."

But what helped Booth keep it together after April 15? The memory of him saving Robert Todd Lincoln. And that is what Booth held onto, his career was basically over and he lived a life of seclusion as he feared retaliation for his brother's actions. But Booth never used the story to save himself or his family. Instead, Booth used it for himself as a reminder that he was a good man and came from a family that should not be shamed by the actions of one member.


But what is left today of this story? Well your looking at it, not much. Today the old Central Railroad building is used by tourist heading over to visit Liberty and Ellis Island, people heading to and from work in downtown Manhattan and on weekends in the spring and summer wedding parties to capture that special day. However, as history goes, I doubt most visitors to the building know the events that took place there. Now, am I not saying there should be a 15 foot granite monument of Edwin Booth pulling Robert Todd Lincoln upwards, of course not but maybe a plaque or even just a sign of some sort. I know the Booth name is right up there with Benedict Arnold (who I have previously defended), the Rosenberg's and the cast of the Jersey Shore as villains in American History. But the selfless actions of Edwin Booth that day deserve to be honored. Robert Todd Lincoln kept the story secret from his family after his fathers death, well for pretty obvious reasons. Booth kept the story to himself perhaps in the fear no one would believe him. But it did happen and Robert Todd Lincoln went on to live a long, happy and successful life, and he owed that all to Edwin Booth.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Electric Car: Technological Blast From the Past

I decided to be instep with the rest of the blogging world and stop talking about the past (kinda) and talk about the present (sorta). In the last decade there has been the birth and growth of the going green movement. Everyone and their grandmother has tried to be more "green." People recycle more, use those reusable shopping bags, changing over to energy efficient light bulbs, all that small scale stuff you can do on your own and then there are those that go the extra mile. You know, the house in the neighborhood covered in solar panels, house completely converted to use solar energy and with the electric car parked in front, that house that never gets a gas or electric bill and is in the process of figuring out how to get rid of the water bill too. But little does that family, or mostly everyone, know that the use of electric cars is well over 100 years in the making, therefore making it, by our modern standards of technology, a dead technology.


Ok, so the image above is no Chevy Volt, but it was the first electric vehicle. That fine piece of machinery that combines class and performance was created by Anyos Jedlik. Jedlik, a Hungarian inventor, is best known in the scientific community for his experiments with electromagnetic self-rotors (1827). In plain English it means that he created the first electric motor...IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. That makes Jedlik the Great-Grandfather of the electric car. However, American inventor Thomas Davenport took Jedlik's motor on a skateboard and went one step further. He took the motor and hooked it up to a separate battery and TADAH! The electric car had been officially born...kind of. Thomas's motor was put into a model car and ran along a electric track, so it was the first race car set but still electric cars in 1833, who cares about what size they were. From then up until the Civil War several advancements were made on electric motors, around the globe. In 1835, Sibrandus Stratingh and Christoper Becker, of the Netherlands, created a child size electric powered car, I guess that would make them the Fathers of Power Wheels. In 1838, an electric train motor was created by Scottish inventor Robert Davidson and topped out at an amazing break neck speed of 4 mph (or 6.4 km for my non American readers). By 1839, another Scotsman, Robert Anderson, put the first electric powered carriage on the road. However, all these early models ran of one use batteries. It wasn't until the late 1840s that rechargeable batteries were used. Now, the work on an electric vehicle took a dive for about 7 years as the Civil War tensions grew and exploded in the U.S. and economic downfall was running rapid around the globe. It wouldn't be until after the Civil War that we see more steps taking in advancing electric vehicle technologies.


 After the Civil War, in America, and the revolutions across Europe the world got back to the normal day to day stuff. In the late 1860s electric vehicle technology picked up right were it left off. Again the Europeans took the lead. Frenchmen, Gaston Plante and Camille Faure, improved battery life and Austrian inventor Franz Kravogl made the first electric powered cycle and showed it off to the world at the 1867 World Exposition. After that Europe had electric fever. France and England began nation wide funding for electric vehicle production. Switzerland wasn't far behind and actually had the first nation to have a fully function electric powered railway. Then London went completely electric in its subway system by 1884. The ironic thing about electric powered trains is that they were then used to transport coal from the mines to the city, I guess they didn't see the value in electric power for cities just yet. The electric vehicle was used for recreation too. It was used by many trill seekers and and people trying to make a name for themselves. the most notable two would be Jamais Contente and Ferdinand Porsche. Contente set the first land speed record for a motor vehicle. That's right the O.G. Evil Knievel Contente held the record for going the fastest, and how fast you may be wondering, well it was a break neck speed of 66 mph (1899). As for Porsche, the man made the first AWD vehicle (1899), so your welcome Subaru. But this was just the beginning for the electric vehicle, after the turn of the 20th century the electric car would take off for what looked like to be a world changing invention and started right here in the good ole USA.

                                                              National Archives

So when we think of Iowa we don't think of the car industry, but that is where America's first electric car rolled out of. William Morrison developed not just the first electric car but perhaps the first station wagon (1891). His vehicle broke the speed of...well it was faster then a mild wind gust, able to top out at 14 mph. After Morrison's work Americans turned their attention to developing this new electric technology. However, the technology was not fully understood so they started out small. Now, by small I mean, well small by our modern standards. Electric tricycles had been  manufactured by several companies for well over a decade. The first real milestone in the History of the American Electric Car comes form 1897. The year 1897 is perhaps a date for US automakers to look back on and see the success of electric car in a major US city. Ok, so enough build up, basically what happened was the Electric Carriage and Wagon Company filled an order for a electric taxis to operate in...New York City. After that the electric craze was on. Every major American car company and every mechanic with a dream of getting rich created the next and best electric car. Now why and how did this cars dominate the American car market? Well there are a few reasons. First, they were a smooth ride on every road, city or county. Second, they lacked the noise of a gasoline powered engine, which made driving a better experience. Third, and most importantly they were easy to fix, they, like electric models today, lacked the complexity of combustion engines. Fourth, you didn't look like a clown every time you wanted to start it, you know that crank in the front of the car to get the engine to turn over. Also, the electric car because of its simplicity, was marketed towards women. Another jolt to the popularity was  the ability to recharge right at home, that's right I mean what did you think Chevy invented that? And how much you may be wondering, well the basic models cost under $1000  and up to $3000 for the more luxurious models. By 1912 some 33000 electric cars were used in America, that was almost 40% of the car market and in 1912! But that was the peak and things began to change in the post WWI America.


The end for the electric car came in the 1920s. The reasons? Well its thing we all take for granted today. Mainly the two big factors are were the growth of a national interstate system and the finding of oil in the American west. The interstate systems made long distance travel easier and the electric car technology could not keep up with how fast the system grew. Also electric cars could not keep a speed high enough for highway driving. The oil, in states like Texas, was in such great supply it made gasoline so cheap and affordable that it just seemed silly to buy an electric car. Another factor was that the design of gasoline cars took a page out of the electric car's book by installing the electric starter, which we all enjoy today. And as crazy as this is going to sound but the muffler lead to the end of the electric car. How? Well it made combustion engine cars quieter. But the real nail in the coffin came from Henry Ford. Mass production allowed Ford to sell his cars for cheaper, every year he produced a new model. How cheap? Well by 1916 you could buy a Ford for around $350 bucks. After this the decline was on, I guess you can say the electric car lost its charge. There was attempts to revive the electric car scene but all met limited success. The biggest achievement of the electric car in the modern era would be an event in 1971. NASA's Lunar Rover, or better known as the moon buggy, used in the Apollo missions was 100% electric powered. It wouldn't be until the mid 1990s that the electric car would be jumped back to life.


Ok, so not everyone is parking and charging a Tesla Roadster in their garage but it is a sign of change. That change started really after the Oil Crisis of the 1970s. I mean green energy really got a push especially after President Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the roof of the White House. But the electric car would make a comeback until the Los Angeles Auto Show (1990) and GM was leading the way. People began to push, indirectly, for an electric car. There were clean air acts passed, moves for clean energy and search for a zero emission vehicle. It was then that every major American auto company jumped on the electric bandwagon. But after some protests and protests supported by...well it is pretty obvious that is way the oil companies. So again the electric car was dead, well not dead like last time maybe more like on life support. It was kept alive by smaller companies and general do gooders in search of ways to clean up the earth. One company was the Tesla Motors which now corners the market on high end electric sport cars. Again, other countries then took the lead in the development of electric cars (Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mini, Peugeot). However, with the exception of Mini and Peugeot, these cars were only Hybrids and still dependent on gasoline. It wasn't until recent when Chevy really set the bar with the Volt. And now with the Volt being manufactured it seems every car company on the planet in now producing electric cars to some extent. The only negative to them is the price. The car companies are riding the trend of going green to earn some green. However, with the current production rate it is only a matter of time the prices are lowered by the companies themselves, or by governments passing laws in the promotion of electric car.



 We have come along way in the field of electric cars. Above we can see 100 years of progress, from the a Detroit manufactured 1912 model to the  Detroit manufactured 2011 Chevy Volt. But why has it taken us so long? We could easily blame it on the government or big oil companies, but I think it falls more on us as Americans. We should have never let the technology gp away like we did. We should have encouraged it in a post WWI America. The development age was perfect but we went for the easy road and took the combustion engine and kicked the electric engine to the curb. Perhaps reading this will show us that some technologies we have today could be even better if they were nurtured in their developments. Perhaps today we would not be paying $5 a gallon for gas. Perhaps we wouldn't be involved in wars that threaten us domestic and abroad. Perhaps we wouldn't be in the environmental state we are in now. But that was me just thinking out load. What I'd really like is just to show how valuable the past is and that things that seem so modern and life changing just didn't happen over night. The electric car has always been the wave of the future. It has always seem to be on the brink of being the vehicle of Americans. I think it is finally time we take that step and make over 100 years of development a success. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Party Like It's 9/11...

First of all, I apologize about the title but I needed to hook you into reading this somehow. I was not so sure how to write this piece but I felt like I needed to. I'd like to say first that I am not trying to take away from the horrors that happened on September 11, 2001. I am not trying to brush it off as if nothing happened. It has been ten years since that fateful day and our nation has suffered, rebuilt and is trying to move forward still. But I think it is time that something positive is said about the date September 11 and an event that shows that Americans have always been resilient and never a people that is willing just sit around and take the easy road. I am talking about a meeting between Americans and British officials, in a small house on Staten Island, that helped seal the creating of the United States of America.

                                                                               National Archive

So in custom with my writing fashion I will give you a little background information that lead up to the meeting that took place in this house. 1776 is perhaps the most influential year in America History. In January, Thomas Paine's Common Sense was sweeping the nation. By March, Washington and the Continental Army had successfully taken the city of Boston. As of May, Rhode Island was the first colony to renounce their loyalties to the crown. July, well we all know what happened, but for those that slept through their history classes, the Declaration of Independence official broke ties with England. In August, Washington begins the "Retreat to Victory." September, had the first submarine attack in history (which failed but still a submarine in 1776 is pretty impressive). All these events and more that I haven't listened (i.e. battles, uprisings, troop build up, etc.) all led to Lord Richard Howe's attempt to end the Revolution before it was a full scale war.


Now, who is Lord Howe and what does he have to gain from a peace agreement? Well first, Howe was a career military man. he served in the War of the Austrian Succession and the French and Indian Wars. He was the brother of Lord William and George Howe (big shot generals on the British side). But his role in the American Revolution was different. Howe was known for his naval tactics and success as a leader. But in the Colonies he was also a peace commissioner. This, in short, meant the British were playing good cop/bad cop and Richard Howe played the role of good cop. Howe wasn't just given that role however, from the very start of the war he had a soft spot in his heart for the underdog American cause. He was a close friend of Benjamin Franklin through the London Society. This closeness to a leading American figure and his sympathy for the cause landed Howe the position of trying to smooth things over and get the colonies back in line. This all culminated on September 11 on Staten Island. But before I can reveal the details of the meeting lets talk about some of our beloved forefathers.


Here they come to save the day! Now for sure we can all recognize at least one of these brave gentlemen, and that is Mr. Benjamin Franklin. Along with Mr. Franklin was the Boston's own bad boy John Adams (left) and the world famous Edward Rutledge (right)... Okay, so Rutledge isn't as appreciated as Franklin and Adams but after you read this, he will be. Since most people don't know to much about Edward Rutledge let me give you a 10¢ biography. Rutledge was a politician from South Carolina. He was educated at Oxford University and became a lawyer. As for his role in the Revolution, he signed the Declaration of Independence, served at an artillery captain and fought in the Battle of Beaufort (1779). As for Adams and Franklin, if i have to explain who they are you should probably go back and retake every history class you have taken...ever. But why those three? Well, Adams and Franklin were two of the major forces behind the operations of American Independence and Rutledge fits in because he is the new kid on the block and has newer views and could use the experience ( I mean could you ask for two better teachers?). So the three Patriots hopped into a row boat and were paddled from Perth Amboy to Staten Island. On arrival they were greeted warmly by their British counterparts and without any problems began the meeting.


 So, in 1776 there wasn't a crowd of history buffs watching the meeting and it certainly wasn't held outside like some kind of company picnic but this was the only picture I can find of the meeting. What really happened was the Conference House at one point belonged to a Loyalist, who let the Redcoats use it as a small military barracks. So those crafty Brits cleared out a room and set up a fancy smancy meeting room. As they sat down, Lord Howe gave them the run-down of what the British wanted. First and foremost, the British wanted the Continental Congress to void the Declaration of Independence. Of course, they went right for the neck. The British were running low on funds and the last thing they needed was to support another war. The idea was void the Declaration and the colonies and England can go back to the days of yesteryear. However, before Franklin, Adams and Rutludge left they were given strict orders that the Declaration could not be undone. After the Americans held their ground Howe refused to continue talks. But what would he have said? Well basically that if the Declaration was undone that the British would not retaliate against known Patriots or punish the colonies. In short they were willing to let bygones be bygones, the whole Revolution would be just water under the bridge, the agreement would to quintessential burying of the hatchet. But the Patriots were, well, Patriots and were not going to take any deal short of Independence. So the meeting ended and Triple Trouble (Franklin, Adams and Rutludge) made their way back to New Jersey. However, they were followed back to the boat by Howe who continued to try to change their minds in order to end the war. The war then continued for another five years and well we all know the outcome since we aren't singing God Save the Queen to the Union Jack before every sporting event. But the date of 9/11/1776 is forgotten as a great day in American History. It should be looked back on and remembered with great reverence and seen as a shining example of the greatness of the American spirit which still echoes to this day.


So how are these two events related and why did I write this? Well the events aren't directly related, more the events that follow. In 1776 we see three Patriots face off against the Evil Empire, stare it right in the face and scoff at it and the idea of turning down Independence. In 2001, we witnessed perhaps the greatest tragedy in American History, but we looked that devastation in the eye, came together as a country, celebrated every survivor and mourned every loss, together. Today, 10 years later, we can look to Ground Zero and see the legacy of 9/11. Now there is a grave for those lost and for the memories of the survivors and families. We now, as Americans, have a place to memorialize not just the events of that day but a memorial to American resilience. Also at this sight, which I highly doubt is a coincidence, the new Freedom Tower measures exactly 1776 feet perhaps in reference to the events of 9/11/76, but back to my point. We could have just accepted it and stalled as a nation, but we didn't do it in 1776 and we wouldn't do it in 2001. The point of writing this piece was to show that 9/11 now should be seen as a day that we can be proud to be Americans. A day that represents how we never take the easy road, how we can in the darkest of times, stand tall and not walk away from our problems. I think it is time not just that 1776 is remembered for the bravery of Adams, Franklin and Rutledge but now we can have an end note to the 9/11 era and look at it as another example of American persistence, resilience, pride and greatness. In closing, I'd like to wish comfort to those who have lost friends and family, to my readers I hope you can take something away from this and in true red, white, and blue tradition may God bless the United States of America.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Blood in the Streets: The Forgotten Wars of Jersey City

Everyday thousands of people go to the districts of Jersey City, New Jersey but little of them know about the areas interesting past. The area is now home to many who want a picturesque view of Manhattan, business that are some of the biggest companies in the nation, young mobile socialites who hit the trendy bars and restaurants that line the streets and visitors from across the world who come to get that perfect photo of the New York skyline. However, I am willing to bet 99% of them do not know the bloody history that once soaked the ground they are living, working, partying or walking on today.


So what am I talking about? Blood in the Streets? Forgotten Wars? Well I am talking about Keift's War, a war that happened right in Jersey City. I bet next your asking yourself, but who could have fought a war there? Well before Jersey City was the bustling, urban and the populated diverse city it is today, it was inhabited by the Lenape. The Lenape were just doing there thing and then their new neighbors, the Dutch, showed up and opened up shop on. The two completely different cultures living side by side was a recipe for disaster. The two groups differed in every way imaginable and those difference would only led to tensions growing which ultimately led to conflict. Before we get into the conflict, lets talk a lot at the two groups and piece together history and see where and when things went wrong.


I will start with the Lenape since, well since most people don't know the Native Americans in New Jersey had a name or even that they existed on the scale which they did. The word Lenape is Unami,(a dialect used by the Lenape) meaning "the people." The Lenape lived in a village style setting, much different from that of say the Iriquois or Souix Nations. They related like neighbors, and the Lenape were like the sweet old couple that lived on the corner, the nice old lady that baked cookies and everyone did things for her and the hard ass old husband that no one messed with because he is a WWII Vet that could still beat up half the neighborhood tough guys. What I am trying to say is that they were the most respected tribes in the area and often looked to for leadership. Most of the Lenape's history has been learned from the notes early settlers that first came to New Jersey. The Lenape were skilled at everything, perhaps that is why they were held so high amongst other tribes, and these skills were noted by the Dutch from clothing, hunting, culture, etc.


So before we get into the first few meetings and all that diplomatic stuff lets talk about the Dutch. We all know about Henry Hudson sailing right into what would become New York Harbor and dropping anchor like he owned the place. Now why did he, well because he was backed by the biggest company in the world, at the time, the Dutch West India Company. It was so big and powerful it held great political power then the Dutch government did, a old world JP Morgan Chase or HSBC Holdings. Hudson and his men set up shop and opened the New York metro area to the New Netherland Company. This was like opening the flood gates. The Dutch company sent ships loaded with merchants and settlers. Now we will fast forward a bit to 1643 when the Dutch were very well established in the area. Now why 1643? Well that is when things are starting to turn sour between the Lenape and Dutch.

                                                                             National Archive

Now why did things get bad in 1643? Well as you can see from that handy map above, it shows the center of New Netherlands, which encompassed New Amsterdam (New York City) and the area that would become New Jersey (or the Lenape's land). Now the first Dutch settlers arrived in modern day Jersey City in 1634 and set up a small villiage known as Communipaw (Yes, Jersey City residents that is where Communipaw Ave gets it's name from). Farms were established to feed the growing population of New Amsterdam. And that is problem number one, the farms and can anyone guess what it is? Anyone? Well it is the use a slavery. The Lenape and other tribes seeing this left the area in fear of being enslaved. Problem number two was just general miscommunications. Third, was the "tribute payments" which was basically shake down money the Dutch demanded from the Lenape. These problems all boiled over in the Pavonia Massacre, or the straw that broke the camels back. What happened was a Dutch military expedition brutally killed several Wappingers (remember the Lenape were like a community, so different villages had different names Lenape is just a general term for "the people"). This was it, it was over the Lenape were ready to rain fire down on the Dutch and that is exactly what they did.


The war between the two sides would be known as Kieft's War. Williem Keift was the Director of New Netherland, basically the equal of what the Mayor Bloomberg today. The only difference is that Kieft had military power and he ordered the Pavonia Massacre with the goal being the removal of the Lenape. Too bad for Kieft the Lenape were not going to let that happen. Kieft had been pushing for a war with the Lenape but unfortunately for him the Dutch colonists thought he was a nutty war monger and didn't pay attention to him. The colonist knew they had a good relationship with the Lenape through trade and basically that they hadn't killed all of them yet. But Kieft wasn't happy. He launched attack after attack on local tribes from Jersey City to all corners of New Netherland. The worst happened in Jersey City and is known as the Pavonia Massacre, or the first battle of Kieft's War. In this "battle" Kieft sent 130 Dutch troops out and they, without mercy, killed 120 Lenape men, women and children. And what did Kieft do after that? Well first he denied that he gave the order and then second he rewarded the returning troops. Now how bad was this? Check this example out from someone that was there:

"Infants were torn form their mother's breasts, and hacked to pieces in the presence of their parents, and pieces thrown into the fire and in the water, and other sucklings, being bound to small boards, were cut, stuck, and pierced, and miserably massacred in a manner to move a heart of stone. Some were thrown into the river, and when the fathers and mothers endeavored to save them, the soldiers would not let them come on land but made both parents and children drown..."

So you can see it was pretty brutal and the Dutch had some serious revenge coming their way.

It was about to get serious. The fall of 1643 spelled bad news for the Dutch. The Lenape and the surrounding tribes around New Netherland joined force and prepared to invade. How big of a force? It estimated they had somewhere around 1500 to 1700 warriors ready to rock'n'roll. No matter what the number was the Natives were no longer messing around, they killed anyone and anything that crossed their paths. They killed one of the leading women in American History, Anne Hutchinson. Hutchinson was big on women's right and tried to gain as much as possible for them within the strict Puritan society. She was also one of the first believers in a separation of church and state, but I digress. So the Lenape were on the war path (no pun intended). After they were done killing settlers and scaring the hell out of the survivors, they destroyed everything. Historians say that the tribes destroyed about 20 years of settlers works. The Lenape caused such chaos that New Amsterdam was over crowded with refugees and was on the verge of complete collapse. It got so bad that the Dutch colonist began to impeach Kieft. Check this out, part of the argument to remove Kieft:

"We sit here among thousands of wild and barbarian people, in whom neither consolation nor mercy can be found; we left our dear fatherland, and if God the Lord were not our comfort we would perish in our misery"

Now if that doesn't spell fearing for your life I don't know what does. The Dutch were sitting ducks, just waiting to be pushed out of New Amsterdam and back to the Netherlands. But the Lenape resisted killing all of them. In that moment of weakness (which I use the word weakness loosely) the Dutch counter attacked. This attack was orchestrated by Kieft in order to save his own skin. Even though it was successful the people still had enough. They saw Kieft was bad for business and was causing not just a loss of profit for New Netherland but the loss of life he cause was unexceptable. And even though his counter attack worked, it was like putting a piece of chewing gum on a broken water main. The Lenape for the next two years harassed the hell out of the New Netherland colonists. They continued their attacks on settlers outside of New Amsterdam and that includes anything the Dutch did in Jersey City. However, the tribes could never get that final big blow that would have sent the Dutch pack together. So instead they stuck to the hit and run tactics which worked just as good, for 2 very long years. After two years of living in constant fear, Kieft was removed and a peace treaty was signed.


So what happened after the dust settled? Well many of the Dutch hauled ass out of New Amsterdam. The Dutch West India Company's street cred was serious damaged and lost boat loads of monetary support from investors. Kieft (that handsome fellow in the picture above) was called back to the Netherlands to answer for all the problems he caused and in a stroke of... perhaps justice, Divine Providence, or just plain ole karma he died in a shipwreck off the coast of Wales before ever making it back to the Netherlands. The population of New Netherland also was destroyed. It is estimated that only about 800 Dutch remained after the war, which is less then half of prewar estimates. For the Dutch this was the beginning of the end. The Dutch controlled the areas of New Netherland for about 17 more years before handing it over to the British. And what about the Lenape? Well there is no estimation of total deaths. What is known is that the Lenape and surrounding tribes slowly lost their lands and were pushed south and west. Today the Lenape still exist, somewhat, they have lost their ancestral lands and have been, over our history, forced out west.


So why write about something that happened in the 1640s? Who cares? Well that is why I wrote this. Living in Hudson County my whole life you never learn about our areas Native history. We learn about the Dutch and Peter Stuyvesant, the American Revolution and the militia battles at Bull's Ferry, the waves of immigrants and the building of Hudson Counties industries, but never about the Lenape or their history. Aside from that we have monuments scared throughout the county from every possible person or group. Civil War, Spanish American War, Firefighters, Police, 9/11, Presidents, Jackie Robinson, Celia Cruz, even a monument for the Katyn Massacre (Polish Nationals killed by the Soviets, in Poland). Now why isn't their a monument to the Lenape? Was having a village massacred not enough? Go reread the excerpt and tell me that the Lenape do not deserve a tribute on the Jersey City waterfront? Are they not Americans? Are they not a part of our History? I say yes and I say it is time to see them honored. Whether my writing makes a difference and influences someone else to push for a monument then great. But what I'd like for the read to take away is just the knowledge that such an injustice had happened right under your feet. So whether your going to work, to Newport Mall, catching the Path, going out for the night or going home remember the Lenape and remember that it was their land, a land which their blood has been spilled on and a land which they defended bravely.