New York City – our nation’s early history

31 07 2007

Statue of LibertyThere is a lot of our nation’s early history to be experienced in New York City.  One of the neatest things was seeing the .  On the boat ride to the island, we went in front of it, getting a view like the immigrants used to in the late 19th and early 20th century when they arrived by boat.  It was the first thing they saw in America, and it represented liberty and freedom.  That was really neat.  While walking around the statue, we listened to an audio tour that explained how we got the statue and how they brought it over here and put it together.  It’s really impressive that they built it in the 19th century.  (Here’s a picture I took.  Click it for a larger image.)

We went to , which used to be where many immigrants would first enter our country.  There they were asked questions, to see if they would be allowed to enter the country.  (About two percent were rejected for various reasons, such as chronic contagious diseases or criminal history or insanity.)  It was interesting to imagine the building being full of immigrants looking for a new life of freedom and opportunity.  For most of us, our ancestors once made that trip.

We went to the site where George Washington took the oath to become the first President of the United States in 1789.  We saw actual copies of the written by Thomas Jefferson, which actually denounced slavery.  Congress took that part out before making it official, so Jefferson made copies of how it was supposed to be and distributed those around.  (On a side note, the document and the other related documents around it were guarded and were locked up securely; it reminded me of the movie National Treasure.)

We saw St. Paul’s Church, which was built in the 1760s.  It was where George Washington walked to after his inauguration as the first President, for a special service.  He was a regular attender there during his first few years of office, when New York was the nation’s capital.  The interior hasn’t changed too much and his pew still survives (although we didn’t get to see inside).  The church is still in use, and played a major role in helping people after 9/11, because of its proximity to the attack and the fact that it wasn’t damaged.

I didn’t always enjoy the history classes I had to take in high school and college, but I’ve since developed an appreciation for it.  And getting to see relics from the birth of our great country really made the history come alive.




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