Today was a rainy day in Philadelphia and New Jersey. Here’s a picture of Philadelphia looking east from my 11th floor dorm room at 7 am (5 am Colorado time).
I began my day with a trip to the Princeton Battlefield State Park where the I listened to an explanation of the battle and many of the events that led up to it and some of what happened afterwards. Briefly, Washington had just crossed the Delaware River on Christmas Day 1776 and the battle of Princeton occured Jan 3, 1777. Washington faced all sorts of challenges during these battles, not the least of which was the enlistments of many of his soldiers was running out. He used psychological strategies to get them to reenlist. For instance, once they crossed the treacherous and ice-flowing Delaware River and were facing the enemy, it was going to be very difficult for the soldiers who didn’t want to stay to get back across the river on their own. He also let peer pressure do its job by having the ones who wanted to leave have to face abandoning their buddies to fight on with reduced numbers. Washington was a shrewd commander. I also learned that just before battle, the soldiers were issued rum with gunpowder sprinkled in it. Apparently that was quite normal and was supposed to add to their discomfort so they’d be cranky and really ready to fight the enemy Red Coats.
Here are pictures of part of the battlefield (remember, these trees weren’t there at the time) and the Clarke House (built in 1772) which is on a hill overlooking the battle field and has a wealth of antiques from the time in it. This is the front of the house…
However, this view is from the other side of the house and it is of the main portion of the battlefield. This is the field where Washington rode right into the heat of the battle amid the cannon firing, shells exploding, and smoke surrounding the soldiers. One of his aides-de-camp wrote that he covered his eyes when he saw Washington in the heart of the battle because he couldn’t bear to see his commander-in-chief killed. But, as you know, Washington survived.
This is a picture of a picture of Washington in battle.
To elaborate on this, in the heat of the battle, Washington rode right into battle, leading his men. His aide de camp put a cloth over his eyes when he saw what Washington was doing because he couldn’t bear the thought of seeing Washington die. Washington was literally a sitting duck, but he wasn’t harmed. It was interesting to me that Washington actually lost most of the battles he fought, but ultimately won the war. He did win at the Battle of Trenton and that victory bolstered morale for soldiers and civilians alike. The weather from the time Washington crossed the Delaware River clear through the battle at Princeton and Trenton was horrible. It was Christmas 1776 through the new year and it was cold and wet. On January 2, it warmed and the frozen ground turned to mud the consistency of cookie dough. It made moving troops a horribly slow undertaking and with the snow and ice melting, the rivers and creeks were flooding. I walked in some mud in the rain today on the battlefield and didn’t enjoy it much, so I know those soldiers were having a terrible horrible no good very bad day.
After leaving the battle grounds, we went into the town of Princeton and a tour of Princeton University and surrounding area. Here are some pictures with brief explanations.
University Chapel looking toward the front…
…and the back. If you squint and look carefully, you can see horizontal pipes for the organ. It was odd to see the pipes horizontal instead of vertical. They sort of look like long horns.
Next is Nassau Hall with the tiger mascots out front. It is the oldest building on campus and has been in continuous use since 1756. It is Georgian style architecture. If you recall, I told you in a previous post what that means. The Declaration of Independence was read here, the Battle of Princeton ended here, and Alexander Hamilton fired upon this building because the Britains held it. The story goes that Hamilton took a lot of pleasure firing on this building because he’d applied to college here and was denied admittance. This building was also the first capital of the new U.S. The new treaty between the U.S. and Britain was signed here. Congress also left this building in a hurry after a scuffle over not paying soldiers the wages they’d earned fighting during the war.
Now, off I went to Albert Einstein’s House. Einstein was a Princeton man. Robyne, these pictures were taken with you in mind since I know you admire Einstein.
Here I am in front of his house. It is a faculty house because Einstein didn’t want it turned into a museum. The man living in it just received a Nobel Peace Prize.
Here I am beside the only monument of Einstein in Princeton. It was dedicated in 2005.
This is Richard Stockton’s house. He was a revolutionary war hero and also a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was captured by the British, but was released and later ran for governor, but lost. He lived here for many years. The path was the King’s Highway.
I also visited the Princeton Cemetery. The first picture is President Grover Cleveland’s grave. The next one is Aaron Burr’s grave.
I saved the best for last. The next pictures are of the Princeton Battle Monument. It came about in 1876 during the Philadelphia Exhibition (like a World’s Fair) and people started thinking about the American heritage and they wanted to commemorate it with a monument. It was dedicated in 1922 and it was the last of the Italian Renaissance monuments. The sculptor was Frederick MacMonnnies with the assistance of an architect named Thomas Hastings. The inspiration for the front of the monument was a famous painting of “liberty enlightening the people”. The first two pictures are the back and a side. The front is the breathtaking one.
Looking at this monument gave me chills with its life-like depiction. Lady Liberty is in the center and she’s reaching to Washington or supporting him symbolically. The soldiers are both holding onto her and clutching her for dear life, as well as protecting her. She is the center, at the heart, of the battle, the suffering, the sacrifice around her. Washington is looking toward the future with Lady Liberty at his side. It is as if Lady Liberty is lifting him up, bolstering him on and he is marching on under her strength. This monument touched me deeply.
To incorporate some of today’s activities in my classroom, I’m contemplating having the students delve into the Princeton Battle Monument. It is such a powerful representation summing up the Revolutionary War that it deserves further investigation. We would research the sculptor, the reasons behind having it constructed, the cost, etc. This activity could springboard into individual student investigation into other Revolutionary War monuments or statues and they could prepare a project on the one they chose and present to the class.
Now, for questions.
1. I mentioned Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. They had a disagreement. How did they confront each other and what happened to them?
2. I also mentioned Grover Cleveland. Which number president was he? What candy bar was named for his daughter?
3. I made a brief comment about Richard Stockton and that he was captured by the British and he signed the Declaration of Independence. I will mention now that signing the Declaration was an act of treason against the ruling country of Britain. Acts of treason are punishable by death. See if you can find out what Richard Stockton did when he was captured that was related to his signing the Declaration.
4. What did Albert Einstein receive a Nobel Peace Prize for?
5. Look up “The King’s Highway” and tell me something about it.
Tomorrow, I’m off to the National Constitution Center and a lecture by Carol Berkin, author of one of the books I read for this class entitled A Brilliant Solution. I’ll see a live theatrical performance of Freedom Rising, and learn about educational resources to use in my classroom.