W3R, Newsletter No. 66, September 28, 2010,
Editor Hans DePold, Bolton Town Historian, Depoldh@gmail.com
https://www.connecticutsar.org/about/rev-road/newsletters.htm Our goal is the stewardship of the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail (W3R NHT) that passes through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, and the elevation to a higher level the quality of heritage preservation all along the route. This newsletter tries to represent the point of view of the patriots who respected Washington and Rochambeau, the ones who, if alive, would be working with us to honor them today.
Now is the time to thank our Congressional champions of the W3R.
The ideas and ideals that set America apart as the leader of the free world, the world’s primary source of innovation and advanced technology, and the land of opportunity live so long as we keep alive the ideas and ideals of the Founding Fathers who gave us our unique Constitution and form of government. No one knows this better than American Revolution re-enactors who recreate the roles of the American, French and English of that time. Our Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail is another opportunity to hold re-enactments and other cultural events so that American students will have a living and continuing educational experience in the foundation of our American heritage. Cultural experiences like those along the W3R are centering forces, shared experiences that bring Americans together pulling in the same direction.
The W3R NHT is now an opportunity to help shore up American history education by bringing it to life at visitor centers and with information markers along the route. That is our current great endeavor. Towns along the route need to begin to plan for this next stage so they can catch the next wave of W3R national trail instantiation. I have visited many NPS visitor centers and the one that I found most aligned with the Camp 5 site in Bolton, CT. was the Minuteman Museum in Lexington, Mass. From the outside it looked like a large New England barn. On the inside there was the visitor center, a store, various necessary facilities and information boots, collections, artifacts, and an animated theater that brought to life how the minutemen repelled the attacks on Concord and Lexington.
It was your will and your determination as supporters of the W3R NHT legislation for nine long years that led to this national trail being created 228 years after the fact. But it was your Congressmen and Senators who stood fast and cosigned the legislation that really made it happen. Now is a very good time to thank them. Many Americans are angry and think representatives have departed from the ideals of our Founding Fathers. This is a difficult election year and those who are saving our national heritage deserve to be thanked again for what they have accomplished regardless of political party.
This is serious and can be unjust because some of our representatives have clearly shown how they care for our heritage. Many understand that America has weathered at least fifteen economic panics followed by recessions and five economic depressions. We know the Congressmen who supported the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail by putting their votes where their hearts are. So now is a the time to thank them because our trail will help future generations of Americans learn more about the government our Founding Fathers designed with a Constitution that has stood the longest test of time.
When we started our W3R NHT quest in 2000, we asked many of you in the SAR, DAR, the Society of the Cincinnati, and the French Embassy to send letters to freshman Congressman John Larson supporting our first legislation which he introduced. Most of you who heard responded and John Larson’s staff bound the letters and resolutions in a book to show others in the House and Senate how you cared enough to write to him and to garner support for the W3R legislation. His W3R National Park Service study legislation passed unanimously that year thanks to the support of your well-respected national organizations. Now those who cosigned our legislation that passed in 2009 again need your letters or resolutions of support to deflect any misleading accusations that could arise in this politically charged year. Please write to thank your Congressmen and Senators whom you previously asked to support our legislation so that they know they are appreciated for their respect for the government of our founding fathers.
Alexis de Tocqueville visited 1831-1832
Alexis de Tocqueville explained why American free enterprise worked so well. If I may summarize what he observed, it was not directly the laws, our democracy, or the government that result in America’s economic success(prodigious commercial activity) but rather the learning experiences of community involvement in making laws, in accepting responsibility, in taking leadership roles, in debating, in building of teams and good contacts, and in selecting the experienced counsel that helped Americans work together well and to become good businessmen. “This ceaseless agitation which democratic government has introduced into the political world, influences all social intercourse. I am not sure that upon the whole this is not the greatest advantage of democracy; and I am much less inclined to applaud it for what it does, than for what it causes to be done.” “The humblest individual who is called upon to co-operate in the government of society, acquires a certain degree of self-respect; and as he possesses authority, he can command the services of minds much more enlightened than his own. He is canvassed by a multitude of applicants, who seek to deceive him in a thousand different ways, but who instruct him by their deceit. He takes a part in political undertakings which did not originate in his own conception, but which give him a taste for undertakings of the kind. New meliorations are daily pointed out in the property which he holds in common with others, and this gives him the desire of improving that property which is more peculiarly his own. He is perhaps neither happier nor better than those who came before him, but he is better informed and more active. I have no doubt that the democratic institutions of the United States, joined to the physical constitution of the country, are the cause (not the direct, as is so often asserted, but the indirect cause) of the prodigious commercial activity of the inhabitants. It is not engendered by the laws, but the people learn how to promote it by the experience derived from legislation.”
There are some politicians who now say the American economic system of free enterprise and pay for performance (capitalism) has failed. They apparently never learned in school that our financial system has failed quite regularly and for many different reasons. In fact our regular economic meltdowns are the result of the business cycle which consists of prodigious prosperity punctuated by panics and economic depressions. Panics typically have caused many of what we today call recessions. But there were also five depressions by most accounting since 1783 from which the United States of America recovered completely.
1)The new American nation had faced a depression during the American Revolution in the late 1780s. Approximately 25% of our population were loyalists who left America and the exodus contributed to the first depression.
2) A severe economic downturn 1797-99 followed the Panic of 1797.
3) The Panic of 1819 marked the end of the economic expansion that had followed the War of 1812.
4) Panic and Depression 1832
5) Depression 1837-1843
6) The Panic of 1857
7) Panic and Depression 1869-1871
8) The Panic of 1873 In 1882 Karl Marx finally declared capitalism (our type of free enterprise economy) officially dead and said it would be supplanted by international socialism (communism).
9) The Panic of 1893
10) The Panic of 1901-Free market failed again!
11) Herbert Hover Black Friday Panic 1929 and FDR Depression of 1933-1941 ending with (WWII)
12) Economic malaise, stagflation, and recession 1978-1983
13) Dot Com Meltdown recession 1999-2000 and 911 attack in 2001
14) Senate Banking Commission mortgage scandal caused by requiring mortgages be given (no questions asked) to people with no visible means of support. It was followed by foreclosures and a subsequent mortgage derivative meltdown in 2008 that triggered the bank failures.
Yet our system compares very favorably with socialist Western European countries that normally have at least twice the American unemployment level punctuated by the same world financial panics and depressions that we have… except often much worse. For instance the unemployment in Spain seldom is as low as 8% and today it is at 20%. If the Senate Banking Commission corruption of the national mortgage system had not triggered the last meltdown, the sovereign debt problems of the European Union probably would have created a financial collapse by now. In fact economists have studies that trace this boom and bust cycle throughout written history. Boom and bust cycles occurred with every type of government and economy known to man and even a communist country like China can end its perpetual communist economic depression with a little liberty, pay for performance, and free enterprise.
Our system compares especially well with the socialism of the old USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) which existed for fifty years in a perpetual state of depression during which 80 million of their citizens were put to death by their government. Even so, there are some current day politicians who apparently agree with Communist Karl Marx that capitalism (American Free Enterprise) is now dead. Perhaps the W3R NHT will someday help end such silly notions.
Alexis de Tocqueville had a theory for the origin of American liberty
Our democracy is different from China’s democracy in that Americans have liberty as well as democracy. Under China’s old socialism everyone worked for the government so if you did not wave the little red flag when you are told, you could have been put back in the rice paddies for re-education. Alexis de Tocqueville explained where liberty comes from in secular America.
“Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must nevertheless be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of free institutions. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief. I do not know whether all the Americans have a sincere faith in their religion; for who can search the human heart? But I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or to a party, but it belongs to the whole nation, and to every rank of society.
In the United States, if a political character attacks a sect, this may not prevent even the partisans of that very sect, from supporting him; but if he attacks all the sects together, every one abandons him, and he remains alone.
While I was in America, a witness, who happened to be called at the assizes of the county of Chester (state of New York), declared that he did not believe in the existence of God or in the immortality of the soul. The judge refused to admit his evidence, on the ground that the witness had destroyed beforehand all the confidence of the court in what he was about to say. The newspapers related the fact without any farther comment.
The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other; and with them this conviction does not spring from that barren traditionary faith which seems to vegetate in the soul rather than to live.
I have known of societies formed by the Americans to send out ministers of the gospel into the new western states, to found schools and churches there, lest religion should be suffered to die away in those remote settlements, and the rising states be less fitted to enjoy free institutions than the people from which they emanated. I met with wealthy New Englanders who abandoned the country in which they were born, in order to lay the foundations of Christianity and of freedom on the banks of the Missouri or in the prairies of Illinois. Thus religious zeal is perpetually stimulated in the United States by the duties of patriotism. These men do not act from an exclusive consideration of the promises of a future life; eternity is only one motive of their devotion to the cause; and if you converse with these missionaries of Christian civilization, you will be surprised to find how much value they set upon the goods of this world, and that you meet with a politician where you expected to find a priest. They will tell you that “all the American republics are collectively involved with each other; if the republics of the west were to fall into anarchy, or to be mastered by a despot, the republican institutions which now flourish upon the shores of the Atlantic ocean would be in great peril. It is therefore our interest that the new states should be religious, in order to maintain our liberties.
Such are the opinions of the Americans; and if any hold that the religious spirit which I admire is the very thing most amiss in America, and that the only element wanting to the freedom and happiness of the human race is to believe in some blind cosmogony, or to assert with Cabanis the secretion of thought by the brain, I can only reply, that those who hold this language have never been in America, and that they have never seen a religious or a free nation. ” .
National Trails Day June 4th and 5th 2011
One of the most important things that trail groups do is use and help others use the trails they love the most. To that end America’s national trail organizations designate a trails weekend each year. Next year (2011) it will be June 4th and 5th. Here is the web link to 2010’s past Connecticut Trails Day brochure as an example of how activities are organized because we too have the W3R trail to show others. http://www.ctwoodlands.org/TDbrochure_web You can choose to look at the entire brochure or if you select pages 3 and 10 you will find that three of the Connecticut trail events were on the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail, and have a W3R logo next to them.
These W3R trail events were held in Bolton and Lebanon for the last three years. Other towns in CT need to create their own W3R trail events and notify the CPFA. The booklet describes the many venues of activities towns are using. It is highly likely that the other states along the W3R have their own state trails organizations that you can use to coordinate similar W3R trail events.
Many other CT towns could have similar events. In Connecticut most towns that had encampments should already have educational placards on the W3R in place and signs in the areas of the encampments. All Connecticut CFPA event registrations for 2011 must be in by mid February 2011 to appear in the printed 2011 booklet.
One of the reasons Congress and the states invest in trails is the tourism industry that trails support. They know the W3R goal has been to have cultural and historical events all along the route. We would hope that French cultural events take place as well because the French troops held concerts, jams (practice sessions) and dances frequently as they marched toward Yorktown VA. That certainly would increase international as well as domestic tourism. It is very common in Europe for towns to organize and coordinate festivals throughout the year so that visitors can pick up a tourism booklet that tells them just what is interesting in every town they visit. We cannot accomplish our greater W3R educational goal unless Congress and state agencies support educational programs along the W3R. But the W3R supporters also need to be locally active to help the state tourism districts and the National Park Service by being involved in local cultural and heritage events so the towns have people informed and eventually providing reliable events for state/NPS planning. Each state has a list of local municipal historians and the historical society presidents with their email addresses in the towns along the W3R who should also be kept informed and who could be valuable assets in each of the towns. Whatever national organization takes the lead in coordinating events all along the route will play the dominant future role. In Connecticut the private Connecticut Forest and Park Association provides much of the volunteer manpower needed to maintain Connecticut hiking trails. The W3R will need many volunteers in each of the states along the route.
Would militia and Continental troops of the line and other re-enactors (Civil War etc.) be willing to dedicate the first weekend of June to re-enactments along National Historic trails and National Parks? Please contact me if your re-enactor group would be willing to commit to a three or four hour activity in Bolton on National Trails day each year. If you have another town in mind that you would like to help and if you don’t know whom to contact please let me know and I will try to help you contact the right people.
A nationwide solidarity would do a lot to catch the attention of the nation, and parents, and bring history to life to our young people. It would make heritage based tourism more viable and self-supporting. It would therefore improve the chances of future legislation to develop our American Culture. Could we try this national effort the first weekend in June of 2011? Most re-enactor groups would need to save that weekend this December or January when making schedules. It would be important in most cases to have the place selected by February 2011 because brochures are printed up early in many states for the entire year. We in Bolton would certainly love to host re-enactors here.
The national W3R Association
The W3R NHT is a partnership between private groups, towns, states, and the NPS. The W3R Association has been primarily an advocacy group but could now become a vehicle for coordinating and cultural activities along the route across the states especially any activities involving the French. It is now a private national organization with an international component and it is in the process of redefining its future.
You can become a part of that future now and join the national W3R Association! To be a member of this esteemed organization you can be from any place in America or the rest of the world. You just have to support the goals of W3R-USA. You do not have to join any other state or private organizations to be a member of the W3R-USA.
Your dues will support the many activities described on the Web site at: www.w3r-us.org. See the web site for the latest membership updates.
I am in the process of completing a pictorial book on Bolton, emphasizing Bolton’s history since the invention of the camera with publication planned for January of 2011. So the editors and I were especially delighted when Congressmen John Larson and Congressman Joe Courtney said they would be happy to introduce some of the early Bolton history during our nation’s founding in the Foreword and Afterword sections of this book. I am not of their political affiliation but I don’t judge a book by its cover. I thank them prodigiously for the W3R National Historic Trail. We are the beneficiaries of these two outstanding Congressmen who are dedicated to the freedoms and principals laid down in our Constitution by our Founding Fathers. Here is what my former and current Congressmen had to say.
Foreword by U.S. Congressman John B. Larson, Chairman Of the House Democratic Caucus 1st Congressional District of Connecticut May 17, 2010
Fifty-six men signed the document that shaped the fabric of our nation on July 4, 1776. These patriots, representing the thirteen colonies, affirmed on behalf of their fellow colonists that the rights of the people were being violated and infringed upon by the British monarchy.
Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and the rest of the Continental Congress drafted the Declaration of Independence to sever the colonies’ ties to the British Empire and declare their autonomy. They ultimately outlined the values, sense of dignity and understanding of identity that came to symbolize the birth of our great nation.
The Declaration of Independence, a document of truth and freedom, fueled the American Revolution and introduced the people of America and the world to the ideals of equality as well as the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is represented on an historic 600 mile trail with roots in Bolton, where two leaders from different lands fought in defense of a document, authorized by the few, but representative of the whole.
At a pivotal point in the Revolutionary War, with the Continental Army at the brink of defeat, General George Washington was joined by Jean Baptiste de Rochambeau, Commander of the French Expeditionary Forces on a journey to Yorktown, Virginia. Rochambeau landed in Newport, Rhode Island in July of 1781 and led his troops through Connecticut, where the men made camp in Bolton, to New York to meet with General Washington before their collective armies moved on to Virginia.
The resulting defeat of the British troops at Yorktown was a crucial step in America’s victory in the Revolutionary War. The French troops fought side-by-side with our Continental Army to support our pursuit of liberty, intellectual freedom, cultural engagement and individual expression, the same ideals the people of France sought to obtain through their own revolution not a decade later.
Connections to the past are what bind history to the present. Historical trails such as the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R), partnered with our schools, libraries, historical societies, and passionate individuals, such as Hans DePold, are needed to provide the guidance and appreciation of the past to the greater public in order to better understand modern day life. This is why I authored the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Heritage Act of 2000, calling for a study to determine if it possessed the cultural and historical significance to become a National Historic Trail. In 2009, with the assistance of Congressman Joe Courtney and Senators Christopher Dodd and Joseph Lieberman, the W3R was recognized by the National Park Service for its overall significance to our local and national history.
With the National Historic Trail designation, people of all ages will gain a better understanding of our nation’s journey to independence as they trace the steps of General Washington, Count Rochambeau, and their armies along the W3R.
The Washington-Rochambeau-Revolutionary Route is an excellent example of how we as a nation cannot step forward without tracing our prior footsteps. From the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence to the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the America that we originally strived for was outlined in these documents. It is up to us, as Americans, to adhere to the values and principles prescribed by our nation’s founders in order to make our communities and our country truly a more perfect union.
The dreams of our founding fathers defined in the Declaration of Independence and defended by the blood of American and French soldiers will continue to live on- in the hearts and minds of those who retrace the steps of the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route.
Fifty-six men inspired armies from two nations to fight for the ideals that would not only create the United States of America, but also serve as the impetus for transforming nations across the world for generations to come. Bolton and the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route were an integral part of that history; we are all part of that history.
Addendum 2, AFTERWORD
By Congressman Joe Courtney
As our nation continues to expand and balance development with open space preservation, historical landmarks are put at risk of being lost forever; taking with them a part of our Country’s history. An understanding of these risks propelled my co-sponsorship for the Washington–Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historical Trail Designation Act. The Trail marks the joining of the American Patriots and French Armies – a critical alliance that helped ensure victory over the British.
Americans hold dearly those who fought for our freedom and independence. The concepts of individual freedoms and the representative government that emerged from the American Revolution changed human history and remain rooted in the values of our nation. We celebrate the story of our Independence every July 4th, and we return to historic landmarks throughout the year to remember our nation’s birth and pass on the legacy to future generations.
Locations in eastern Connecticut that evoke the Revolutionary War are worthy of preservation along with the nationally known locations, such as Boston’s North Church or Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. In addition to places such as Bolton Heritage Farm and Oliver White’s Tavern in Bolton, eastern Connecticut is home to the War Office where Governor Trumbull plotted Connecticut’s efforts to assist the War for Independence and the fields of French encampment in Plainfield, Windham and Lebanon. These rural settings can allow visitors to imagine they are taking a step back in time to 18th Century America. The fields where Rochambeau’s army encamped are still much as they were over 225 years ago, and the mighty town green in Lebanon looks as it did in 1781 when the French Calvary trained there. Sections of Route 6 listed in the National Register include the longest continuous portion of the Washington-Rochambeau Rout surviving still intact.
On March 30, 2009, when U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route was designated as a National Historic Trail. As a result, 600 miles stretching from Newport, Rhode Island to Yorktown, Virginia, including 47 stops in Connecticut will receive federal attention and support. The efforts of the National Park Service to coordinate efforts and assemble educational materials were possible because efforts of local leaders who have preserved these sites. Additionally, the protection of this route in eastern Connecticut allows us to enhance tourism and visitor travel through an area known for its tranquility and pristine landscape.
I supported the legislation that federally recognized the Washington-Rochambeau Trail and believe our shared history is one of our nation’s greatest strengths. As we educate future generations, we remind ourselves of the efforts and sacrifices of our founding fathers and mothers and honor their efforts. Knowing how our home communities helped shape our nation’s history provides a path to appreciate our history and the democratic values that form the foundation of our country.