Browsing the archives for the american history category.


A Historical Experience on a Road Trip to California National Parks

american history, National Park, National Parks, Travel, travel and history, travel and leisure

A Historical Experience on a Road Trip to California National Parks

 Joe Laing, El Monte RV

What a perfect way to spend a vacation – traveling in an RV on a tour of California’s National Parks! This is truly a unique way to experience California and U.S. history as well as amazing people from our past. Explorers, adventurers, artists and Native Americans – all sorts of folks savored the beauty and also some of the adversity of California as they arrived year after year, century after century. Many stories are told within California National Parks.

Let’s start in Southern California and work our way up to the northern reaches near the Oregon border. We will move not only through the deserts of the southwest where archeologists find historical treasures, but also through wild lands of rugged mountains and tall trees where American Indians hunted and gathered for their families. We’ll visit Gold Rush Country where miners laid down their lives for riches beyond measure. As you travel in an RV you will never lack for a place to stay, as there is an abundance of RV parks everywhere you go.

At Channel Islands National Park, off the coast in Southern California, you will be visiting five amazing islands that have been the subject of many years of research by scientists and historians. Each island has its own story. The Chumash inhabited the islands for thousands of years, yet were decimated when traders and explorers brought in disease. These same traders exploited resources as they hunted seals and otters. Because the islands are so isolated, they have a wealth of unique plant and animal life which creates in itself a wonderful reason to visit.

Heading east now, you will want to visit Joshua Tree National Park next. This desert park offers views into a rich history, with a fascinating story set in an almost surreal environment. There are numerous archeological and historic sites to explore. It is imperative you stop at the museum to see the Campbell Collection which consists of numerous artifacts, notes and photos which tell the story of early cultures.

On north now to Death Valley National Park! You simply cannot visit California without stopping here. You may not believe how much history this park can contain. However, you can’t deny that the Twenty Mule Team wagons have made an impression on young and old ever since they entered the history books. You have the opportunity to visit a long list of ghost towns such as Chloride City, Greenwater or Harrisberry. And to get a look into the life in this desert area in the 20s and 30s, be sure to stop at Scotty’s Castle.

Again heading northward, you will come to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks where the breathtaking beauty of the giant trees and rugged mountains will encourage you to get out in the fresh air and get some recreation time in. These side-by-side parks lie in the San Joaquin Valley and have a six thousand year history at least, with hunters and gatherers living in this Southern Sierra wonderland. More came in later years – the trappers and miners, the sheepherders and the loggers. Learn the story of Walter Fry, who arrived as a logger, but after counting the growth rings on one of the trees he cut, decided he wanted no part of ending over 3,000 years of growth.

Don’t miss Yosemite National Park and learn all about our well-known John Muir and all he did to have this area protected as a national park. Experience the views as did Ansel Adams through his camera lens. This park is filled with history and you should allow many days to take it all in. There is so much about this park that can be said, that we’ll leave it at – GO!

Finally you will come to your last two stops, very different from each other – Lassen Volcanic National Park in north central California and Redwood National Park on the coast. Lassen is filed with meadows, lakes and, of course, volcanoes. More than one! Discover the wild stories of the Native Americans who lived and raised their families in the Lassen area. Find out all about the effect that American Indians and the loggers had on Redwood National Park. The wildlife and beautiful coastline at Redwood National Park are some of the main attractions here. As you explore either park, you will learn so much about this region of California and how natives and European explorers came and forged out a living. Although your tour is now at an end, the memories will last forever!

About the Author

Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV, your nationwide source for RV rentals. El Monte RV also sells used motorhomes through eight different locations across the United States. For more information on purchasing a used motorhome see http://www.elmontervsales.com/.

Boston Massachusetts Freedom Trail

american history, boston

Boston is one of America’s most amazing history cities, and any visit there should include a walk along Boston’s Freedom Trail.   The trail is a walk down Boston and therefore America’s colonial history, and unlike most “trails” this one is physically defined by red bricks that are actually embedded in the sidewalk.      One can start at the beginning, middle or end of the trail and make their way through the now mostly modern streetscapes of Boston, stopping as long as you like at the many historical  sites along the trail.

Here, from the Freedom Trail’s official website, is more information about each of the featured sites.

The Boston Massachusetts Freedom Trail:

The Boston Common
The State House
Park Street Church
Granary Burying Ground
King’s Chapel
King’s Chapel Burying Ground
Benjamin Franklin Statue/Boston Latin School
Old Corner Book Store
Old South Meeting House
Old State House
Site of the Boston Massacre
Faneuil Hall
Paul Revere House
The Old North Church
Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
Bunker Hill Monument
USS Constitution

For more about visiting Boston you’ll also want to visit the Boston Visitor Bureau official website here:  Bostonusa.com

Richmond Virginia History

american history, Richmond Virginia History, US history

Here in Richmond Virginia I’m experiencing this historical masterpiece of an American city, and one of the key cornerstones in terms of understanding US History.    For this first post I’m just free associating my whirlwind introduction to Richmond and Richmond History.

In subsequent posts I’ll feature some of the hundreds of photos and dozens of fascinating stories I’ve heard about Richmond’s remarkable past – a history that spans thousands of years of native American habitation and almost 400 years of US History and important US prehistory.

Note that for this very short visit I’m focusing on Civil War history and just a few battles of the many around Richmond.  All the battles of this area from both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War will be featured at the upcoming Battlepedia website, soon to be a comprehensive list of all battles throughout recorded human history.

Richmond Histoy and Travel notes:

My first day in Richmond started at the excellent Quality Inn on Broad, where I’m enjoying a great rate of $45 thanks to a walk-in hotel coupon from the rest area.   We’ve had great luck with those coupons when traveling, especially on the east coast and especially when you are not overnighting on Friday or Saturday nights.  Great travel strategy:  Stay with friends or relatives when you can but if you cannot plan your trips so hotels are Sun-Thursday nights when things are almost always slower.

First stops were on Richmond’s beautiful MONUMENT AVENUE, where statues of civil war heros like Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis join a new statue of the US tennis legend and Richmond native Arthur Ashe.    The architecture on Richmond’s Monument Avenue reflects some of the best of the Antebellum South, with beautiful, heavy, and ornate styles, often in brick.   FYI “Antebellum South” means before the Civil War and comes from the latin anti (before) and bellum (war).

Next stop was … parking for the downtown museums and Virginia State Capitol area.   Richmond travel tip – USE the visitor and hospital patient parking deck that is at the downtown medical center.   Otherwise you may gat caught with a high fine for going over the two hour limit on many street parking spaces which may be hard to find anyway.  If you are visiting the Museum of the Confederacy and Confederate White House / Jefferson Davis Home be sure to get your parking ticket validated at the front desk – this saved me about $10 which is the daily parking cost limit at that parking deck.  It looked like other downtown parking ramps cost more than that anyway.

The three floors of the Museum of the Confederacy are an excellent collection of memorabilia and a battle by battle description of the war, but the reason to go here is to see the amazing Confederate White House (also called the “Grey House” since that was closer to the color at the time.    The home of Jefferson Davis and his second wife Varina Davis is a spectacular restoration with many period pieces and an excellent historical tour.    Here, confederate generals often visited to discuss strategy with each other and the president.   I’d expected more “pro confederacy spin” than I got there.   In fact the most interesting historical story was about Mary Elizabeth Bowser, a slave in the Davis home who had kept her education and intelligence a secret.  When cleaning the upstairs study Bowser would memorize documents and then report the information to Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew.   This went on for some time and I believe Bowser’s secret was kept until after the end of the war.     Another fascinating item was how Davis’ wife Varina Davis moved to New York City and wrote for Joseph Pulitzer, often defending her late husband’s reputation against attacks by counterattacking his detractors.   This writing career blossomed into regular features on cooking and child raising.  Varina Davis was seen as an important bridge between the north and south during reconstruction, and was well regarded by many in the north.

My next stop was the excellent Virginia State Visitor Center at the Bell Tower near the Capitol Building, where the staffer gave me a great map, brochures, and an excellent introduction to the area as well as good strategies for optimizing my brief visit.

Just down the street from the tower is St Paul’s church where beautiful stained glass windows memorialize civil war era figures like Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.   Here, Jefferson Davis was attending a service when he was informed that the Union was about to break through to Richmond, an action that was soon to lead to the end of the Civil War with Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Confederate army to Union forces general U.S. Grant at Appomatox Court House near Appomatox, Virginia.   Appomatox is about 90 miles west of Richmond.

Tredegar Iron Works was a key foundry for the confederacy, making about half the 2000 cannons used by the South in the Civil War.  Here at Tredegar, we see  refined versions of the industrial factory model of production that began in England in the Derwent Valley Mills.    Waterwheels and steam boilers as power sources with massive heavy presses and ironmaking equipment to create canons, railroad tracks, and more.   Tredegar is part of the US National Park system and admission also gets you into the excellent Civil War Museum right next door, though cheapskates might want to dodge the $8 fee simply walk the grounds for a quick “feel” of history.   (I’m not sure you can do this, but it looked like it would not be a problem).

… more Richmond Virginia history and travel coming soon..

More Famous Artists in US History

american history, art

Georgia Totto O’Keeffe (November 15, 1887 – March 6, 1986) was one of America’s most famous women artists.   When we think of Georgia O’Keeffe  we think of sensual large floral paintings and bright daring colors.

Georgia once said “I’ll paint what I see-what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking the time to look at it-I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers”. Another great quote that  Georgia is well known for is “To create one’s own world in any of the arts takes courage.”

Edward Weston 1938- 1958 was one of the greatest photographers in US history.  The birthplace of many of his images is the area around the west coast town of Monterey, California.  Many of Weston’s photographs that now sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars were printed in the Monterey Area.   Weston’s commanding series of seascapes and landscapes were taken in the place now known as the Point Lobos State Reserve.

In the spirit of Georgia O’Keeffe  and Edward Weston is the work of Vitaly Geyman, an internationally acclaimed fine art photographer.  Check out Vitaly Geyman’s  Flower Prints and  Black and White Prints.

History of the Democratic Party

american history, history, travel and history, US history

A Brief History of the Democratic Party of the United States

Also note U-S-History’s  History of the Republican Party and History of the Dixiecrats

The US Democratic Party is the oldest political party in the United States and remains one of the oldest surviving political institutions of all time.    Although the current US President Barack Obama is a democrat, the history of the democratic party is replete with personality and policy changes that in many ways have shifted the party’s focus dramatically from the early days when the US two party system was in its infancy.   For example old school  ”Conservative Democrats”  have in many states effectively been replaced by Republicans who now run on platforms not all that dissimilar to those “Southern Democrats”.   A focus on Religion, small government except for defense, and low tolerance for liberal social policies like gay marriage would have been consistent with the early history of the democratic party but not the current state of affairs.

From the elections of 1832 through 1856 the Democrats were dominant in the USA. This era saw the election of Presidents Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, James K. Polk, and Senator Stephen Douglas.

During this period both the Democratic Party and the Whig Party competed for votes and worked hard to establish large political organizations with broad based national support. For the Democrats this meant a focus on farmers, new immigrants, and urban workers.

At this time the platform of the Democratic party included westward expansion, Manifest Destiny, greater equality (although this was taken to mean equality among white men – it would take more than half a century to see universal suffrage and over one hundred forty years to see the election of a president who was not a white male).

A key figure in the history of the Democratic party during the years leading up to the civil war was James Buchanan.  Buchanan was the last president of this important Democratic era. His administration saw the Dred Scott case, the Economic Panic of 1857, and conflicts over forts in the south.  Buchanan’s successor, Abraham Lincoln, would see the attack on Fort Sumter by confederate forces, effectively beginning the United States Civil War. On a trivia note, Buchanan was the only bachelor president.

Starting with the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 the Republican Party would dominate US national politics from 1860 to 1932. The Democrats would only see two party members elected to the presidency during that time, Presidents Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson. Interestingly, William Henry Harrison was president between the two terms of Grover Cleveland, a unique situation in US political history.

During this period there were major competing factions among Democrats. One was the Bourbon Democrats with Eastern business interests, another would become the “Progressive Movement” with large participation from farmers in the US South and West.

Democrats controlled the US House of Representatives from 1930 to 1994.  The Dems also held a majority in the US Senate for most of those years.  During this time prominent Democrats were Presidents Harry S. Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and the Kennedys:  Brothers John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy.   More recent democratic Presidents are:  Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.

Credits:  This article is based mostly on Wikipedia Content

Yosemite National Park, California USA

american history, National Park, National Parks, yosemite, yosemite half dome california

Yosemite National Park in California, USA was one of the USA’s first protected natural areas and an early US National Park.

The area of over 1000 square miles, mostly wilderness, is recognized around the globe as one of the world’s most beautiful and sublime mountain landscapes.

Bridalveil Falls and Yosemite Falls tumble thousands of feet over sheer granite cliffs into the valley below, joining the quiet Merced River as it winds through forest and meadow.

El Capitan’s 3000 foot sheer cliff and Half Dome are two of the most striking granite features in the world.

Yosemite is the most famous of California’s five National Parks and stands with Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming as one of the USA’s most famous national parks, known worldwide for both its natural beauty and for the role it played in fostering the works of John Muir and the parks and environmental protection movements.

Yosemite was home to Scottish born naturalist John Muir and was the source of much of Muir’s inspiration as his writings led to profound changes in the way Americans viewed the wilderness. Yosemite park is a critical key to an understanding of the Sierra Club, one of America’s most influential voices for the preservation of wilderness. Today, Yosemite remains one of America’s finest unspoiled natural landscapes and will always rank as one of the greatest of all the world’s natural treasures.

Hike to Half Dome
Hike to Clouds Rest
More Yosemite Pictures: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=yosemite&w=all&s=int
National Park Service Website: http://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm

History Channel Presents "America – The Story of Us"

America the story of us, american history, history channel, US history

The History Channel debuts a new series that will chronicle some prehistory and the entire history of the USA , spanning about 400 years. The first two episodes will be about the English settlements in “the new world”.



Rebels
In 1607, a small group of English adventurers lands in Jamestown. Thirteen years later the Pilgrims settle in Plymouth, New England. These men and women are all driven by the promise of a new life, and all face huge dangers from disease, starvation and conflict…

Obviously a challenge to a complete treatment of the history of the Americas is the fact that *most* of the history of this continent happened before records were kept, and many would argue historians have always given short shrift to the rich native American cultures, economies, and tribal conflicts that defined American history for thousands of years. However it’s also true that this history was in many ways “simpler” as the existing evidence suggests that native populations were small and cultures were fairly stable for much of the time preceding the arrival of Europeans.

In any case, “America – The History of Us” promises new insight into the rise of what has arguably been the most successful economic and cultural experiment in all of history … the United States of America.


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