Archive for March, 2009

Hang in There! The Persistence of Abraham Lincoln

President Obama Just talked about persistence in his last news conference. (See article below)16lincoln61photobychristophersgerman

A person who is persistent, says the dictionary, is one who continues to follow the same course of action, no matter what. A persistent person keeps trying and trying.

Abraham Lincoln was one such person. Here’s the evidence:

Lincoln was defeated when he ran for the Illinois House of Representatives in 1832. But he was victorious in the House race in 1834, and was then reelected for three consecutive terms.

He was defeated when he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1843, then ran successfully for a House seat in 1846.

He was defeated for the Senate in 1855.

He was defeated for Vice President in 1856.

He was defeated for the Senate again in 1858.

Finally, in 1860, Lincoln was elected President.

Imagine if he gave up because he did not win right away.

The message  set a goal for yourself and be persistent!

President’s Obama Is a Believer in Persistence

I was watching President Obama’s news conference last night and he talked about many of the problems he is struggling with, the economy, health care reform, peace in the Middle east ect…

The one thing he said that I wanted to share with my student’s is he said he is a big believer in persistence. What is persistence? Persistence is I think as President Obama meant it the quality of not giving up. If you want to learn how to read, you keep plugging along, you try everything to reach your goal. Don’t do one thing, do ten things. People who are successful are persistent. They do not give up and try many strategies and ways to solve their problem. Even when it looks as if it cannot be solved. Good advice from our President.

How persistent are you? Do you give up too easily? Maybe you could be more persistent in your daily life in order to solve your problems, and make your life better.

Click below to see him talk about how he feels about persistence.


For Ms. Caputo’s Class Who is Reading The Diary of Anne Frank!

Miep Gies one hundred years old!

Miep Gies at 97

Miep Gies at 97

Amsterdam – January 2009 A tribute to Miep Gies Miep Gies at 97 years old. Miep Gies at 97 years old. On 15 February this year, Miep Gies reached the venerable age of one hundred. She celebrated quietly with family and friends. Miep is in reasonably good health, and remains deeply involved in keeping alive the memory of Anne Frank and spreading the message of her story. She still receives letters from all over the world with questions about her relationship with Anne Frank and her role as a helper. Below are some links to pages on our website with more information on the key role that Miep Gies played in supporting those in hiding in the secret annexe, and in the

Uncle Tom’s Cabin Published

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Uncle Tom’s Cabin is published Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is published. The novel sold 300,000 copies within three months and was so widely read that when President Abraham Lincoln met Stowe in 1862, he reportedly said, “So this is the little lady who made this big war.” Stowe was born in 1811, the seventh child of the famous Congregationalist minister Lyman Beecher. She studied at private schools in Connecticut, then taught in Hartford from 1827 until her father moved to Cincinnati in 1832. She accompanied him and continued to teach while writing stories and essays. In 1836, she married Calvin Ellis Stowe, with whom she had seven children. She published her first book, Mayflower, in 1843. While living in Cincinnati, Stowe encountered fugitive slaves and the Underground Railroad. Later, she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin in reaction to recently tightened fugitive slave laws. The book had a major influence on the way the American public viewed slavery. The book established Stowe’s reputation as a woman of letters. She traveled to England in 1853, where she was welcomed as a literary hero. Along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, she became one of the original contributors to The Atlantic, which launched in November 1857. In 1863, when Lincoln announced the end of slavery, she danced in the streets. Stowe continued to write throughout her life and died in 1896.


March 20, 1854
Republican Party founded

In Ripon, Wisconsin, former members of the Whig Party meet to establish a new party to oppose the spread of slavery into the western territories. The Whig Party, which was formed in 1834 to oppose the “tyranny” of President Andrew Jackson, had shown itself incapable of coping with the national crisis over slavery.

With the successful introduction of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill of 1854, an act that dissolved the terms of the Missouri Compromise and allowed slave or free status to be decided in the territories by popular sovereignty, the Whigs disintegrated. By February 1854, anti-slavery Whigs had begun meeting in the upper midwestern states to discuss the formation of a new party. One such meeting, in Wisconsin on March 20, 1854, is generally remembered as the founding meeting of the Republican Party.

The Republicans rapidly gained supporters in the North, and in 1856 their first presidential candidate, John C. Fremont, won 11 of the 16 Northern states. By 1860, the majority of the Southern slave states were publicly threatening secession if the Republicans won the presidency. In November 1860, Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected president over a divided Democratic Party, and six weeks later South Carolina formally seceded from the Union. Within six more weeks, five other Southern states had followed South Carolina’s lead, and in April 1861 the Civil War began when Confederate shore batteries under General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Bay.

The Civil War firmly identified the Republican Party as the party of the victorious North, and after the war the Republican-dominated Congress forced a “Radical Reconstruction” policy on the South, which saw the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution and the granting of equal rights to all Southern citizens. By 1876, the Republican Party had lost control of the South, but it continued to dominate the presidency until the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.

Susan B. Anthony ScreenCast

Click here to listen/watch a screencast about Susan B. Anthony


Thomas Garrett

For slaves fleeing north through the Delmarva Peninsula, the last underground railroad station before the Pennsylvania line and freedom was the Wilmington, Delaware home of “Thomas Garrett”, a Quaker merchant.Thomas_Garrett_ambrotype_c1850-crop

Born on August 21, 1789 in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, Thomas Garrett was one of the most prominent figures in the history of the Underground Railroad. He has been called Delaware’s greatest humanitarian and is credited with helping more than 2,700 slaves escape to freedom over a forty year period.

Thomas Garrett’s
childhood home

When he was a child his parents actively hid runaway slaves in their Delaware County, Pa. farmhouse. Garrett was raised with the teachings of tolerance espoused by his church, one of the first to openly challenge the rights of slaveholders. When Garret was a young man, an employee of the family was kidnapped and nearly forced into slavery. Garrett chased after the offenders, freeing his family’s friend. According to scholars, Garrett experienced a spiritual awakening that day, and would ever after devote his life to the active quest for human equality and dignity.

Margaret Sharpless

In 1813, he married Margaret Sharpless who died after the birth of their fifth child in 1828. It was during their marriage that Garrett decided, in 1820, to devote his life to abolitionism. Over the next four decades he helped more than 2,000 blacks reach freedom.

In 1830 after Margaret’s death, Garrett married Rachel Mendenhall, the daughter of a fellow Quaker abolitionist from Chester County, Pennsylvania. They had one child, Eli, together and remained married for 38 years.

Rachel Mendenhall

Garrett relocated to Quaker Hill in Wilmington, Delaware and maintained an inconsistently successful hardware business there. He was now living at the geographical and political crossroads of the country, the dividing line between the north and south. Whether he chose his location because of his abolitionist ambition, or found himself aiding almost daily in the escape of fugitives because of his move to the border state of Delaware, Garrett soon became known in anti-slavery circles as a great “station master” on the eastern line of the Underground Railroad.

William Still


Fugitives made their way through the lowlands and swamps of Maryland and Delaware, sometimes with the aid of “conductors”, like Harriet Tubman, who worked with Garrett. Often helped by support networks in the free black, and white anti-slavery communities, many runaways were directed by signal or word of mouth to make for the house of Thomas Garrett. Garrett was able to secret thousands away to the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Offices, where a free black man named William Still had quickly risen to become a formidable freedom fighter and “station master”. Still kept meticulous records of slaves’ experiences, and was often able to reunite entire families in the free states. Still even found one weary fugitive to be his own, long lost brother.

John Hunn

In 1848, Thomas Garrett and a fellow abolitionist John Hunn were tried and convicted in the New Castle Delaware Courthouse by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney for aiding in the escape of the Hawkins family, who had been slaves in Maryland. Both men were given considerable fines which rendered them nearly bankrupt. In his closing address, Garrett regaled those in the courtroom with a redoubled commitment to help runaway slaves. He said to Judge Taney:

Thou has left me without a dollar,….I say to thee and to all in this court room, that if anyone knows a fugitive who wants shelter….send him to Thomas Garrett and he will befriend him.”

Eyewitness accounts detail the particular contrition of a slave-holding juror from southern Delaware who rose to shake Garrett’s hand and apologize at the close of the impassioned speech.

Following the Civil War, Garrett continued his work for minority groups in America. In 1870, when black Americans were given the right to vote by the establishment of the 15th Amendment, Garrett was carried on the shoulders of his supporters through the streets of Wilmington as they hailed him “our Moses”.

Thomas Garrett’s
Grave Marker

Less than one year later, on January 25, 1871, Thomas Garrett died. His funeral, attended by many of the black residents of the city, featured a procession of Garrett’s coffin – borne from shoulder to shoulder up to his final resting place, still marked by a humble stone, in the cemetery at the Wilmington Friends Meeting House at 4th and West Streets in Quaker Hill.

William Still

William Still Famous Abolishionist

William Still Famous Abolishionist

William Still Underground RR Foundation Inc. STILL, WILLIAM (1821-1902), abolitionist, writer, and businessman. Still war born near Medford, in Burlington County, N.J. His father, Levin Steel, was a former slave who had purchased his own freedom and changed his name to Still to protect his wife Sidney, who had escaped from slavery in Maryland. After her first escape attempt had failed she ran to her husband with two of their four children and changed her name to Charity. Their son William was the youngest of eighteen children. From early boyhood he worked on his father’s farm and as a woodcutter. He had little formal schooling, but read what was available and studied grammar on his own. He left home when he was twenty, finding employment with neighboring farmers. In 1844 he went to Philadelphia, where he worked at various jobs, including handyman in several households.

In 1847 he married Letitia George, who became the mother of his four children. The year of his marriage, Still found employment in the office of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery. His duties were janitorial and clerical, but he soon became involved with aiding fugitives from slavery. He was in a unique position to provide board and room for many of the fugitives who rested in Philadelphia before resuming their journey to Canada. One of those former slaves turned out to he his own brother, Peter Still, left in bondage by his mother when she had escaped forty years earlier. William Still later reported that finding his brother led him to preserve the careful records concerning former slaves which provided valuable source material for his book The Underground Railroad (1872).

When Philadelphia abolitionists organized a vigilance committee to assist the large numbers of fugitives going through the city after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, they named William Still chairman.  John Brown’s wife stayed with the Still family for a time following the Harpers Ferry raid, and several of Brown’s accomplices received aid from Still. Although he concluded his work in the antislavery office in 1861, Still continued his association with the society, serving for eight years as vice-president and president from 1896 to 1901.

While working for the abolition society Still began purchasing real estate. During the Civil War he opened a store handling new and used stoves, and later established a very successful coal business. In 1864 he came to Camp William Penn, where Negro soldiers were stationed.

William Still’s book on the Underground Railroad was an important addition to the literature of the antislavery movement. One of the small number of postwar accounts written or compiled by Negro authors, it provided a much-needed corrective to the memoirs of white abolitionists. Still recognized the many contributions of white abolitionists, but he also pictured the fugitives themselves as courageous individuals, struggling for their own freedom, rather than as helpless or passive passengers on a white Underground Railroad. His journals were the only day-to-day record of vigilance committee activity covering a prolonged period. In addition to the accounts of the fugitives, he included excerpts from newspapers. legal documents, letters from abolitionists and former slaves, and biographical sketches.

Although the executive committee of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery had asked Still to write his book, the work and its publication and distribution were a product of his own effort. His stated purpose was to “encourage the race in efforts of self elevation” He believed that the most eloquent advocates of Negroes were Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, and other self-emancipated champions. It was his mission as a Negro to record their heroic deeds and he hoped the book would serve as additional testimony to the intellectual capacity of his race. “We very much need works on various topics from the pens of colored men to represent the race intellectually.’ He told one of his sales agents. Still’s book went into three editions and became the most widely circulated work on the Underground Railroad. He proudly exhibited it at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876, a powerful reminder of the condition of Negroes slavery.

Still worked in other ways to improve the status of Negroes. In 1855 he traveled to Canada to visit communities where refugees from United States slavery settled. His positive reports counteracted some of the criticism of Negroes in Canada then in circulation. Five years later he cited the examples of successful Negroes in Canada to argue for the emancipation of all slaves. In 1859, he started a campaign to end racial discrimination on Philadelphia railroad cars by exposing the injustice in a letter to the press. Eight years later the campaign ended successfully when the Pennsylvania legislature passed a law forbidding such discrimination. In 1861 Still helped organize and finance a social, civil, and statistical association to collect data about Negroes. When some Philadelphia colored citizens opposed Still’s crusade for equal service on the streetcars, he wrote A Brief Narrative of the Struggle for the Rights of the Colored People of Philadelphia in the City Railway Cars (1867).

In 1874 Still was again involved in the controversy when he openly supported a reform candidate for the mayor of Philadelphia. To explain his repudiation of the Republican candidate, Still spoke to a public meeting and later published a pamphlet entitled An Address on Voting and Laboring(1874). As an active member of the Presbyterian church he helped found a Mission School in North Philadelphia. He also organized in 1880 one of the early YMCAs for Negro youth, served in the Freedmen’s Aid Commission, and was a member of the Philadelphia Board of Trade. He helped manage homes for aged Negroes and destitute Negro children, as well as an orphan asylum for the for the children of soldiers and sailors.

He died of heart trouble caused by brights disease, and was survived by his widow, two daughters, and a son.


March 9, 1841
Supreme Court rules on Amistad mutiny.


At the end of a historic case, the U.S. Supreme Court rules, with only one dissent, that the African slaves who seized control of the Amistad slave ship had been illegally forced into slavery, and thus are free under American law.

In 1807, the U.S. Congress joined with Great Britain in abolishing the African slave trade, although the trading of slaves within the U.S. was not prohibited. Despite the international ban on the importation of African slaves, Cuba continued to transport captive Africans to its sugar plantations until the 1860s, and Brazil to its coffee plantations until the 1850s.

On June 28, 1839, 53 slaves recently captured in Africa left Havana, Cuba, aboard the Amistad schooner for a life of slavery on a sugar plantation at Puerto Principe, Cuba. Three days later, Sengbe Pieh, a Membe African known as Cinque, freed himself and the other slaves and planned a mutiny. Early in the morning of July 2, in the midst of a storm, the Africans rose up against their captors and, using sugar-cane knives found in the hold, killed the captain of the vessel and a crewmember. Two other crewmembers were either thrown overboard or escaped, and Jose Ruiz and Pedro Montes, the two Cubans who had purchased the slaves, were captured. Cinque ordered the Cubans to sail the Amistad east back to Africa. During the day, Ruiz and Montes complied, but at night they would turn the vessel in a northerly direction, toward U.S. waters. After almost nearly two difficult months at sea, during which time more than a dozen Africans perished, what became known as the “black schooner” was first spotted by American vessels.

On August 26, the USS Washington, a U.S. Navy brig, seized the Amistad off the coast of Long Island and escorted it to New London, Connecticut. Ruiz and Montes were freed, and the Africans were imprisoned pending an investigation of the Amistad revolt. The two Cubans demanded the return of their supposedly Cuban-born slaves, while the Spanish government called for the Africans’ extradition to Cuba to stand trial for piracy and murder. In opposition to both groups, American abolitionists advocated the return of the illegally bought slaves to Africa.

The story of the Amistad mutiny garnered widespread attention, and U.S. abolitionists succeeded in winning a trial in a U.S. court. Before a federal district court in Connecticut, Cinque, who was taught English by his new American friends, testified on his own behalf. On January 13, 1840, Judge Andrew Judson ruled that the Africans were illegally enslaved, that they would not be returned to Cuba to stand trial for piracy and murder, and that they should be granted free passage back to Africa. The Spanish authorities and U.S. President Martin Van Buren appealed the decision, but another federal district court upheld Judson’s findings. President Van Buren, in opposition to the abolitionist faction in Congress, appealed the decision again.

On February 22, 1841, the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing the Amistad case. U.S. Representative John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, who served as the sixth president of the United States from 1825 to 1829, joined the Africans’ defense team. In Congress, Adams had been an eloquent opponent of slavery, and before the nation’s highest court he presented a coherent argument for the release of Cinque and the 34 other survivors of the Amistad.

On March 9, 1841, the Supreme Court ruled that the Africans had been illegally enslaved and had thus exercised a natural right to fight for their freedom. In November, with the financial assistance of their abolitionist allies, the Amistad Africans departed America aboard the Gentleman on a voyage back to West Africa. Some of the Africans helped establish a Christian mission in Sierra Leone, but most, like Cinque, returned to their homelands in the African interior. One of the survivors, who was a child when taken aboard the Amistad as a slave, eventually returned to the United States. Originally named Margru, she studied at Ohio’s integrated and coeducational Oberlin College in the late 1840s, before returning to Sierra Leone as evangelical missionary Sara Margru Kinson.


March 6, 1857
Supreme Court rules in Dred Scott case

The U.S. Supreme Court hands down its decision on Sanford v. Dred Scott, a case that intensified national divisions over the issue of slavery.

In 1834, Dred Scott, a slave, had been taken to Illinois, a free state, and then Wisconsin territory, where the Missouri Compromise of 1820 prohibited slavery. Scott lived in Wisconsin with his master, Dr. John Emerson, for several years before returning to Missouri, a slave state. In 1846, after Emerson died, Scott sued his master’s widow for his freedom on the grounds that he had lived as a resident of a free state and territory. He won his suit in a lower court, but the Missouri supreme court reversed the decision. Scott appealed the decision, and as his new master, J.F.A. Sanford, was a resident of New York, a federal court decided to hear the case on the basis of the diversity of state citizenship represented. After a federal district court decided against Scott, the case came on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which was divided along slavery and antislavery lines; although the Southern justices had a majority.

During the trial, the antislavery justices used the case to defend the constitutionality of the Missouri Compromise, which had been repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. The Southern majority responded by ruling on March 6, 1857, that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional and that Congress had no power to prohibit slavery in the territories. Three of the Southern justices also held that African Americans who were slaves or whose ancestors were slaves were not entitled to the rights of a federal citizen and therefore had no standing in court. These rulings all confirmed that, in the view of the nation’s highest court, under no condition did Dred Scott have the legal right to request his freedom. The Supreme Court’s verdict further inflamed the irrepressible differences in America over the issue of slavery, which in 1861 erupted with the outbreak of the American Civil War.