For a number of years now, many historians–including myself–have worked with the National Park Service to discover more information concerning the life and times of James Oronoko Dexter, a former enslaved person owned by the Pemberton family While with the family, Dexter mainly worked as a coachman. He eventually gained his freedom and resided on North Fifth Street in Philadelphia, his home lying within the boundaries of the present-day Independence National Park.
This month, the anticipated film In the Heart of the Sea will portray one of America’s most well-known tragedies. The film’s title is taken from Nathaniel Philbrick’s acclaimed historical narrative of the same title, whose subtitle, ”The Tragedy of the Whale ship Essex,” reveals the full account and tantalizing subject matter of what truly transpired to both ship and crew during those fateful years between 1819 to 1821. Most Americans today are acquainted with the story through Herman Melville’s 1851 novel, Moby Dick.
Around the year 1678, Thomas Norris, a Quaker and merchant from London, emigrated to Jamaica to escape religious persecution. To add insult to injury, he was killed during the earthquake which sank the famed pirate city of Port Royal, on June 7th, 1692. Thomas’ son Isaac, who lived in Jamaica as a small child, was residing in Philadelphia at the time, acting as his father’s business agent.
Historians generally agree that French aid was instrumental to the American victory during the Revolutionary war. Officers such as the famous Marquis de Lafayette and Viscount Francois-Louis Teissedre de Fleury to the countless numbers of enlisted men, all helped the Colonies gain their independence.
Last month, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania highlighted our Japanese Internment manuscript materials of WWII with “The Truth Behind Hold These Truths,” a program featuring Penn professor Dr. Franklin Odo, a performance by Makato Hirano, and a discussion with Sumiko Kobayashi, a former internee whose records are housed at the Society.
Out of over 500,000 graphic images, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania is rich in various holiday illustrations, lithographs, watercolors, and photographs. A sampling of which is presented here in this holiday edition of History Hits.
While the end of October usually brings to mind images of ghosts, goblins, and trick-or-treaters, it’s fitting to remember that it also brought about the conclusion of a momentous event over 200 years ago. From September 5 through October 26, 1774, the First Continental Congress was held here in Philadelphia.
Prior to the Revolutionary War, thousands of indentured servants and convicts were transported (often against their own will) by Great Britain to either mainland America or to the British colonies in the West Indies. Though the majority of those who survived the voyage, disease, and physical abuse by their masters eventually became responsible citizens, a significant number failed to be reformed of their past criminal behavior. Perhaps surprisingly, many of these repeat offenders were women.
During the last State of the Union address, President Obama stated, “the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.” Climate change may be a fact, but the debate has centered upon what has caused it to occur: the machinations of man and carbon emissions, or natural processes.
“The Great War” is generally regarded to have begun with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo, on June 28, 1914. However, the United States remained neutral for almost three years, entering the conflict on April 6, 1917. By April 1918, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, at its current location on 13th & Locust Streets in Philadelphia, began to host events once a week within its “Hall of the Society.” These social gatherings were intended to provide entertainment for the “soldiers, sailors and marines, stationed in the city and district camps.” This o
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