Photobook: Edgar Allan Poe at the University of Virginia

Edgar Allan Poe historical marker at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. I took this photo while on the first of my Thomas Jefferson history of ideas tours in 2015. Poe enrolled here 192 years ago on February 14th, 1826. What a thing, to be so famous that a major university would have a historical plaque erected just because you attended for a term before dropping out ’cause daddy wouldn’t pay the bills. It’s a hard life, Mr. Poe. But we really do love your stories…

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Photobook: Jameson Jenkins and the ‘Slave Stampede’ Rescue

Jameson Jenkins’ lot in the Lincoln Home National Historic Site National Park in Springfield, Illinois, on 8th street next to the Henson Robinson House. On January 17th, 1850, Jenkins helped a group of 11 slaves escape northward, planting false rumors so that local papers would confuse the story and thus help the refugees evade capture. Jenkins was a drayman, and according to SangamonLink: History of the County of Sangamon, Illinois, ‘On Feb. 11, 1861, Jameson Jenkins drove [his near-neighbor] President-elect Abraham Lincoln on his last Springfield carriage ride, from the Chenery House at Fourth and Washington Streets to the Great Western Railroad depot — now the Lincoln Depot — as Lincoln began his trip to Washington, D.C.’.

The historical placard at Jameson Jenkins’ lot. The photograph is at an angle because the glare was so bright on the direct shots that most of the text and images were obscured

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Photobook: Flight of the Cheyennes, January 9th, 1879

The Flight of the Cheyennes historical marker at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. About 350 human beings risked being shot or frozen to death in the harsh winter weather by escaping from U.S. Army custody that past September. They had been forcibly relocated with about 700 other Cheyenne away from their homeland to an unfamiliar, inhospitable reservation where they sickened and died from disease and hunger. Some of them, out of hunger, desperation, and revenge, raided nearby settlers and killed around 40 of them. 350 of them decided to take their future into their own hands and break out for home. The desire for freedom is ever strong in the human mind and heart.

Cavalry barracks at Fort Robinson (reconstruction), where 147 of the 350 escaped Cheyenne were rounded up and imprisoned in January of 1879. They were denied warmth and sufficient food in an attempt to break their spirits and get them to acquiesce in a march back to their dismal reservation. Instead, they escaped on the morning of January 9th, 1879 and fled along the White River to the buttes beyond.

Interior of the old cavalry barracks (reconstruction) at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, where the 147 Cheyenne people were imprisoned

Photo of Little Wolf and Dull Knife, who were among those who led the Cheyenne trek north and then the ensuing battles, from the Fort’s museum display

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Enlightenment Scotland: Adam Smith’s Grave at Canongate Kirkyard

Canongate Kirk on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

Here in Edinburgh, where I’ve returned to University to earn my Master’s degree, I love to visit sites and monuments associated with the Enlightenment. As a lover of philosophy, the rich intellectual history of this city first brought me here: I followed (and still do) in the footsteps of David Hume for my first traveling philosophy/history of ideas series for O.P. I think it’s high time I share more of my explorations with you!

I’ll start with my visit yesterday afternoon to the great moral philosopher and economist Adam Smith‘s grave in Canongate Kirkyard on the Royal Mile. The lovely Kirk of the Canongate was built form 1688-1691, and is quite different in style than the other buildings on the Royal Mile. The graveyard behind it, however, is very like many others to be found behind kirks all over and around this great city, and includes the gravesites of many great Scots.

Canongate Kirkyard on the Royal Mile with Adam Smith’s grave center-left, Edinburgh, Scotland

Adam Smith’s grave in Canongate Kirkyard on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland. Many of Adam Smith’s moral and political theories, and his ideas on trade and economics, were developed from the ideas of his great friend and mentor David Hume.

Canongate Kirk on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

List of famous people buried at Canongate Kirkyard on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

Ordinary Philosophy and its Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series is a labor of love and ad-free, supported by patrons and readers like you. Please offer your support today!

Photobook: Missouri Constitutional Rights Flag Captured by Union Soldiers on June 14th, 1861

Missouri Constitutional Rights Flag captured by Union soldiers on June 14th, 1861, Old State Capitol Building, Springfield, Illinois.

The claim that the Southern states seceded primarily over the Constitutional issue of states’ rights issues is an oft-repeated one, and I think a troubling one for many reasons. For one thing, it’s part of a long tradition of trying to sidestep or minimize the problems of race-based slavery and the resulting intransigent racism that has plagued our country since its formative years, often on the part of people who don’t want to support laws that promote racial equality. For another, this states’ rights claim was as disingenuous then as it is now: the Southern states seceded not because the federal government was trying to stop slavery in their states. There was, as yet, no concerted attempt to do so. They were incensed that the federal government, in their view, was not doing enough to enforce the legal right to own slaves in free states: by forcing local governments and private individuals, against their own philosophical and religious convictions, to return escaped slaves; to allow slaveowners to retain their rights to own slaves when they traveled and even moved to free states; and to extend the rights to own slaves to new territories.

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Photobook: Knockin’ on Freedom’s Door at Moses and Lucy Pettingill’s House Site in Peoria, Illinois

Preston Jackson‘s Knockin’ on Freedom’s Door sculpture (detail) at the former site of the Pettengill House, Peoria, Illinois’ station on the Underground Railroad. Lucy and Moses Pettingill were ardent abolitionists and fellow Whigs with Abraham Lincoln, their close friend. The Pettingills would host Whig meetings at this house as well. The Pettingills were also co-founders of the original Presbyterian church in Peoria. Lincoln spoke on at least one occasion, and probably more, at the Main Street Presbyterian Church. The sculpture was dedicated on October 24th, 2008

Preston Jackson’s sculpture Knockin’ on Freedom’s Door at the site of the Pettengill House Underground Railroad stop near what used to be the intersection of Liberty and Jackson, Peoria, Illinois. The sculpture appears to represent two things. One, the long, lean, somewhat stooping figure of Abraham Lincoln. Two, the road north, on which we see figures of people helping each other to escape from slavery. In this interpretation, Lincoln’s face, solicitously gazing south at the scenes along the road, seems to represent the North Star

Historical and informational plaques at site of the Pettengill House, the Underground Railroad station for Peoria near what used to be the intersection of Liberty and Jackson

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Sources and inspiration:

Panetta, Gary. ‘Pettengills Worked in Peoria to End Slavery.’ Peoria Journal Star, Oct 18, 2008

Thompson, Katie. ‘The Long Road to Freedom: Peoria and the Underground Railroad.’ Peoria Magazine, Jan/Feb 2008

 

Photobook: Frederick Douglass and Edinburgh, Old and New

Detail of Edinburgh Old and New by David Octavius Hill, 1847, photo by Amy Cools at the Hill & Adamson photography Exhibit at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, September 2017. In this view, the Firth of Forth is in the background, Calton Hill is at the right, Princes Street runs along the center at an angle with the Scott Monument at the center, and the Scottish National Gallery is at left, as seen from Edinburgh Castle.

Frederick Douglass wrote to William White on July 30th, 1846

‘I am now in Edinburgh. It is the capital of Scotland – and it is justly regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. I never saw one with which for beauty, elegance, and grandeur to compare it… The Monument to Sir Walter Scott – on Princes Street, is just one conglomeration of architectural beauties. The Calton Hill – Salisbury Crags and Arthur’s Seat give the city advantages over any city I have visited in this or in your country.’

The Scott Monument was finished just two years before Douglass’ visit. I walk near or among all of these places that Douglass writes of no less than several times a week. Oh, the wonder of it! – In the Main Reading Room of the National Library of Scotland with The Frederick Douglass Papers, Series III: Correspondence. Volume 1: 1842-1852, ed. John R. McKivigan.

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