Category Archives: U.S. Presidents

Experiencing Presidents’ Day In The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area



For some residents, Presidents’ Day is a recognized federal holiday, a day off of school or work. I can recall honoring the actual birthdays of President George Washington (Feb. 22) and President Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12). But the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971 moved the holiday to the third Monday in February and is intended to celebrate all those that have served as our nation’s top leader. Whether you have the day off or not, this is a great opportunity to connect with our shared American heritage. Right here in our region, there is a rich collection of presidential history. The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area, a 180-mile swath of land that stretches from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia, is known as the region Where America Happened™. The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area contains more history than any other in the nation and includes: National and World Heritage sites, over 10,000 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, 49 National Historic districts, nine Presidential homes, 13 National Parks, hundreds of African American and Native American heritage sites, 30 historic main street communities, sites from the Revolutionary War, French-Indian War, War of 1812 and the largest collection of Civil War sites in the nation.

Of course there are the traditional places where Washington slept, but many other presidents visited or lived within this historic region. For example, Gettysburg, PA, primarily known for the battle that took place there in 1863, is also home to the Eisenhower National Historic Site. The former home and farm of General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower served the President as a weekend retreat and a meeting place for world leaders. With its peaceful setting and view of South Mountain, it was a much-needed respite from Washington and a backdrop for efforts to reduce Cold War tensions. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/eise.

Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Nearby, tucked away in the Catoctin Mountain region of Maryland sits the presidential retreat known as Camp David. Essentially, every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has traversed to this retreat site while they were in office. Although it is closed off to visitors, individuals can visit Catoctin Mountain Park, where there is some interpretation of Shangri-La and its predecessor available at the Visitors Center. For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov/cato/index.htm.

Traveling down Route 15, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway, visitors should also stop in Middleburg, Virginia. Considered the capital of Loudoun County’s horse country, President John F. and Mrs. Jackie Kennedy leased and then purchased a place in the quaint town as their own country retreat. In the 1990s, Jackie Kennedy Onassis often returned to spend fox-hunting weekends in the Middleburg countryside, which was filled with happy memories from her time as First Lady. Today, visitors can see memorabilia at the Red Fox Inn and other establishments visited by the first family. The town’s public pavilion and garden are dedicated to her. A great website to check out is www.howardallenphotos.com.

Montpelier, located near Orange, VA, was the lifelong home of James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution” and fourth President of the United States. The mansion core was built by Madison’s father circa 1760. The house has been newly restored to the way it looked when James and Dolley Madison returned from Washington in 1817, following Madison’s two terms as President. The 2,650-acre estate features the Madison mansion, 135 historic buildings, a steeplechase course, gardens, forests, the Gilmore Cabin, a farm, two galleries and an Education Center with permanent and changing exhibits, many archaeological sites and an Archaeology Laboratory. Information can be found at www.montpelier.org.

In Charlottesville sits Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, third President of the United States and noted architect and inventor. Jefferson began construction on his “little mountain” home in 1769 and, after remodeling and enlarging the house, finally finished 40 years later in 1809. For more information, visit www.monticello.org.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership.

Jefferson’s friend and neighbor James Monroe owned Ash Lawn-Highland, along with his wife Elizabeth Kortright Monroe, from 1793 to 1826 and their official residence from 1799 to 1823. Ash Lawn-Highland is an historic house museum and 535-acre working farm of the former U.S. President and Revolutionary War veteran. Check out www.ashlawnhighland.org for more details.

Also in the area is Pine Knott, the country retreat of Theodore and Edith Roosevelt and their children from 1905 to 1908 during his term as President. This rural retreat from the “city environment” of Washington, D.C. provided a sanctuary for the Roosevelt family where they could hike, observe birds and wildlife, hunt, ride and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. The building had no plumbing, toilet, heat, or electricity or other facilities for the family, with a minimum of rustic comfortable furniture. For more information, check out http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org/modern/pineknot.htm.

Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

In addition to the sites listed above, several other presidents visited towns and locations throughout the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area. For example, President Lincoln’s footsteps can be traced to several locations. After the Battle of Antietam, he visited the site to meet with Union generals as well as wounded soldiers. During that trip, he stopped in other places such as Harpers Ferry, WV and Frederick, MD, where he gave remarks to citizens gathered on the street. And a year later, he gave a short address in Gettysburg that would is recited today by many around the world. Travelers interested in getting the presidential experience will find maps, suggested itineraries, and other travel resources are available at www.hallowedground.org.

A Historic Moment for the National Park Service



On April 9, 1933, newly inaugurated President Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to take a day trip to Shenandoah National Park to inspect a fishing lodge on the Rapidan River that had been donated to the park by his predecessor, President Herbert Hoover, to see if he wanted to use the building as his retreat.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

FDR invited Horace Albright, the director of the National Park Service, to ride along, and on the return trip, Albright took the opportunity to describe the Civil War battles at Manassas on the land where the fighting had taken place.  The land was in private ownership at the time, and as the story went, they stopped at Stone House, located at the intersection of Routes 211 and 234.  Albright made the pitch to have battlefields administered by the War Department, as well as a number of other historic sites administered by the Department of Agriculture and other agencies, transferred to the National Park Service.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

When they returned to Washington, FDR asked Albright to put his money where his mouth was and to prepare a proposal along the lines of what he had suggested at Stone House.  Albright made his proposal, and within days, the president issued two executive orders transferring more than 20 military parks, historic battlefields, and monuments to the Park Service, as well as more than a dozen non-military historic sites. Among them were the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore and of the District of Columbia’s most hallowed places, including the Lincoln Memorial, the other monuments on the National Mall, and Rock Creek Park.  In all, over 50 parks, monuments, and historic sites came under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photo by Kenneth Garrett. Copyright Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Today, many of the centerpieces in the “Journey Through Hallowed Ground,” administered by the National Park Service, as a result of these executive orders, have created a wonderful partnership that has and will continue to benefit all Americans.

Celebrate Constitution Day



The average lifespan of a modern constitution is 17 years. By contrast, the U.S. Constitution has lasted 227 years since its signing on September 17, 1787. We have the oldest still in effect constitution in the world.

Today on National Constitution Day, we honor James Madison, Father of the Constitution and Architect of the Bills of Rights, for his leadership in the Constitution’s creation. The individual freedoms and rights we enjoy today are direct reflections of Madison’s tireless work and vision.

Photo courtesy of The Montpelier Foundation.

Photo courtesy of The Montpelier Foundation.

These ideas, the framework that became the U.S. Constitution, emerged from Montpelier, Madison’s lifelong home located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains along this corridor that is part of the Journey through Hallowed Ground. Imagine the 35-year-old Madison, a committed patriot dedicated to the ideals of the Revolution. He spends months at Montpelier reading about ancient republics and confederacies, trying to glean why they failed, and what America could do differently to succeed. While the thirteen colonies had won their independence from England, the emerging young nation could not function under the Articles of Confederation. Madison recognized this dilemma and developed the plan for addressing America’s ills.

Madison and the other founders, who were part of that hot, summertime debate in Philadelphia we now call the Constitutional Convention, are presented to us sometimes today like demigods—due with good reason to the ideological enlightenment that guided their discourse, friendships, and politics. It was this intellectual foundation that fashioned a linchpin in the axles of liberty and allowed the young United States to move from an experiment to the great country we know today.

However, it would be naïve to claim that our liberty, then and now, has been easy. After all, the Constitution was written “to form a more perfect union.” It was not perfect when created, and while it has become “more perfect” over the past two centuries, changes have often been hard won through petition and protest. We cannot ignore that a truly representative system of government was not achieved until women and African Americans entered the voting booths in more modern history.

Nevertheless, with only 27 amendments, the Constitution has proven its ability to withstand the test of time. It is the Constitution that binds us together as Americans—not where we are from, the color of our skin, or our religion.

The many voices and opinions found in today’s debates seem like fuel for anarchy. Yet time and again, out of those many opinions comes one voice—one people, under one Constitution and one rule of law—which continues to be heard as distinctly American.

The United States of America is an example to the world that a free people can indeed govern themselves. But, power demands responsibility. If we want to pass on liberty to future generations, we must ensure that each generation understands the roles and responsibilities of American citizens, including how our government works. To quote Madison “The people will have the virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom…So that we do not put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.”

James Madison’s Montpelier is rooted in this far-reaching vision and a deep commitment to the ideals of the Constitution. We invite you to join us for a visit to learn more about James Madison and his vision of America. Happy Constitution Day.

Rowe, courtesy of The Montpelier Foundation.

Photo courtesy of Kenton Rowe and The Montpelier Foundation.

400 Years of History on One Tank of Gas



Photos by Kenneth Garrett.  © Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photos by Kenneth Garrett. © Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

With gas prices where they are, families may be wondering what to do this summer or where to travel. There is a place where travelers can get 400 years of unparalleled American history and heritage on a single tank of gas- that is the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area. This 180 mile swath of land that runs from Gettysburg, PA to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, VA includes nine Presidential homes, 13 National Parks, the largest single collection of Civil War sites in the nation, 30 historic Main Street communities to stay and dine in, many of the country’s best wineries and restaurants to enjoy, and to top it off, a National Scenic Byway with breadth taking landscapes, rivers and trails nearby to explore. And it’s all within a short drive from Washington, DC, Baltimore MD, Philadelphia, PA, Harrisburg, PA, and Richmond, VA.

Known as Where America Happened™, this region holds more American history than any other in the nation and can be enjoyed on just one tank of gas. As fuel prices rise and air travel becomes more unwieldy, now more than ever is the time to Take the Journey™ to discover some of the nation’s most picturesque landscapes and explore 400 years of American heritage.

Photos by Kenneth Garrett.  © Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photos by Kenneth Garrett. © Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Visitors can discover the stories of Abraham Lincoln and Gettysburg, PA; Civil Rights and Harpers Ferry, WV; historic downtowns like Frederick, MD and Leesburg, VA; the Iroquois Indians and the Potomac River; the inspiration of James Madison and the U.S. Constitution at Montpelier; the genius of Thomas Jefferson and Monticello; as well as locally grown foods, a perfectly aged barrel of Virginia grapes and so much more.

“There are few things that match the joy of discovery when exploring the unmatched history and heritage found in this spectacular National Heritage Area,” said Cate Magennis Wyatt, president and founder of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership. “The Sesquicentennial Commemorations of the American Civil war are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and make it the perfect time walk the battlefields; explore the exceptional historic downtowns; and taste the vibrancy of the farms and vineyards. It’s only by visiting these remarkable places, that the stories of the heroic men and women who lived here during the Civil War become real.”

Photos by Kenneth Garrett.  © Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

Photos by Kenneth Garrett. © Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area contains the single largest collection of Civil War sites in the nation, including the beginning, middle and end of the Civil War. Sites include: Aldie, Antietam, Appomattox Court House, Ball’s Bluff, Brandy Station, Bristoe Station, Cedar Mountain, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Harpers Ferry, Kelly’s Ford, Manassas, Middleburg, Rappahannock Station, Spotsylvania Court House, Thoroughfare Gap, Upperville, Wilderness and many others. In fact, July 2014 marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Monocacy, near Frederick, Maryland. Plan your itinerary, request a map, and get more travel information at www.hallowedground.org.

Flag Day: A Brief History



The first call to make June 14 a national Flag Day holiday came in 1861. On June 8, Charles Dudley Warner, the editor of the Hartford Evening Press, wrote an editorial calling for two new American holidays, Constitution Day on September 17 and Flag Day on June 14. Flag Day would commemorate the day in 1777 that the Second Continental Congress enacted the first Flag Resolution, which called for the flag of the United States to have thirteen white stars in a blue field (“representing a new constellation”) and thirteen alternating red and white stripes.

Flags flew in Connecticut on June 14, 1861, and there was a flurry of media interest north of the Mason-Dixon line. But Warner’s idea soon faded away.

On the hundredth anniversary of the first Flag Resolution, June 14, 1877, several notable Flag Day ceremonies took place around the nation. In Boston, for example, the original Star-Spangled Banner was displayed at the Old South Meeting House. But once again, the idea did not take hold nationwide.

Then in 1885, Bernard John (B.J.) Cigrand, a 19-year-old teacher at a one-room Schoolhouse in Waubeka, Wisconsin, set in motion a series of events that would culminate in a nationwide Flag Day.

Courtesy of National Flag Day

Cigrand, the son of immigrants from Luxembourg, kept a small American flag in his classroom. On June 14, 1885, he asked his students to write an essay about what the flag meant to them. The exercises he held that day in the classroom in Waubeka—about midway between Chicago and Green Bay—are generally recognized as the nation’s first formal Flag Day observance.

That act set Cigrand on a long quest to lobby for the creation of a national Flag Day holiday, which he initially called Flag Birthday. Beginning with “The Fourteenth of June,” an article he wrote in June 1886 in the Chicago newspaper Argus, Cigrand penned countless newspaper and magazine articles and pamphlets arguing for the holiday. He also wrote several books and made hundreds of speeches espousing his Flag Day cause.

B.J. Cigrand left teaching to attend dental school, receiving his degree from the University Dental College in Chicago in 1888. He practiced dentistry in Aurora, Illinois, and was a Professor of Prosthetic Dentistry and president of the American College of Dental Surgery. But lobbying on behalf of Flag Day remained Cigrand’s passion throughout his life.

Beginning in the early 1890s Cigrand’s flag celebration idea began to take hold in many cites and towns. In 1894, Cigrand’s missionary work on behalf of Flag Day—which included helping found the Illinois Flag Day Association and the National Flag Day Association—resulted in its first big success in Chicago. On June 14, some 300,000 schoolchildren took party in city-wide Flag Day activities held in five parks, the first public school celebration of its kind.

That same year New York Governor Roswell P. Flower signed an order directing that all public buildings in the Empire State display the flag on June 14. With that, the Flag Day concept began to spread around the nation.

Veterans and patriotic groups such as the Sons of the American Revolution, the Society of Colonial Dames, and the Daughters of the American Revolution played a large part in lobbying for Cigrand’s cause. The Grand Army of the Republic, the nation’s most influential veterans service organization, initially did not support a June 14 Flag Day holiday. The group’s leadership believed that the date was too close to Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. But sentiment for Flag Day began to grow within the organization, and in its sister group, the Woman’s Relief Crops, which supported the work of Cigrand’s American Flag Association.

In 1891, the New York State Board of Education mandated that all public schools observe June 14 with ceremonies. The Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a Flag Day celebration that same year on June 14. Over the next twenty-five years many states and localities officially celebrated Flag Day.

In Michigan, for example, the legislature approved a Flag Day resolution in 1901. The state’s governor, Aaron T. Bliss, issued a proclamation designating June 14, 1902, as Flag Day in Michigan. “The breezes stealing in from the Great Lakes and the rising sun should find Old Glory waving from every home, from every schoolhouse, from every church and every public building,” the governor proclaimed.

Woodrow Wilson’s 1916 Proclamation

Less than two years later, on May 30, 1916, as it became increasingly likely that America would soon be fighting in the First World War, President Woodrow Wilson established Flag Day through a presidential proclamation. Wilson made a Flag Day speech on June 14 near the Washington Monument after having led a flag-saturated preparedness parade in which some 66,000 people marched from the Capitol along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. Wilson himself carried the Stars and Stripes at the head of the parade.

Woodrow Wilson, holding U.S. flag, in parade, on Preparedness Day, Washington, D.C. Courtesy Library of Congress

Woodrow Wilson, holding U.S. flag, in parade, on Preparedness Day, Washington, D.C.
Courtesy Library of Congress

“I regard this day as a day of rededication to all the ideals of the United States,” Wilson said. “As I see the winds lovingly unfold the beautiful lines of our great flag, I shall seem to see a hand point the way of duty, no matter how hard, no matter how long, which we shall tread while we vindicate the glory and honor of the United States.”

Wilson did not make Flag Day a legal public holiday, however; nor has any President done so since then. Only Pennsylvania, which took action in 1937, has chosen to make June 14 a legal state holiday.

But even though it’s not an official national public holiday, the day has been observed nationwide since Wilson’s proclamation. On August 3, 1949, President Harry Truman signed into law a resolution passed by Congress designating June 14th of each year National Flag Day. That measure also calls upon the President to issue an annual proclamation calling for a Flag Day observance and for the display of the flag on all federal government buildings. In 1966, Congress passed a Joint Resolution asking the president to issue an annual National Flag Week proclamation as well, and to call on American citizens to display the flag during the entire week in which June 14 falls.

Every year since then our Presidents have made Flag Day and Flag Week Proclamations, directing U.S. government officials to fly the flag on all federal buildings and asking all Americans, as President Ronald Reagan put it in his 1981 Flag Day Proclamation, to fly the flag “from their porches, windows and storefronts.”

In his 2013 Flag Day/Flag Week message, President Obama said: “Let us raise our flags high, from small-town storefronts to duty stations stretched around the globe, and let us look to them once more as we press on in the march toward a more perfect Union.”

(This post is adapted from journalist and historian Marc Leepson’s Flag: An American Biography (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2005), a history of the American flag from the beginnings to the 21st century.)

Restoring a Masterpiece



As the Architect for the University of Virginia, each day I’m reminded of the privilege of working in such magnificent surroundings. The Jeffersonian Grounds, or the University’s core historic precinct, were designed by Thomas Jefferson as the embodiment of his ideas for an educated citizenry as a cornerstone of democracy. In fact, Jefferson cited the University (in his phrasing the ‘Academical Village’) as one of his proudest achievements, along with writing the Declaration of Independence and Virginia’s statute for religious freedom. He sought recognition not only for two documents fundamental to American freedom but also for the institution through which those freedoms would be preserved.

image00That’s why the Jeffersonian Grounds, with the Rotunda as the centerpiece, have been designated a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage site along with Monticello. In short, Jefferson’s Academical Village is recognized as an architectural masterpiece.

This historic heart of the University of Virginia is not set aside as a museum. It is a bustling place filled with top-notch teachers, world-class researchers, and bright, striving students. In addition, it is heavily trafficked each day, attracting thousands of visitors annually. As such, it presents special preservation challenges. The needs are continuous, costly, and urgent for the 17 historic structures, 103 student rooms, and 40 acres of gardens and landscape that comprise the Jeffersonian Grounds.

In these spaces, students and faculty continue the shared pursuit of knowledge as they have for nearly 200 years. If I may be so bold to say it, the Jeffersonian Grounds are the physical and emotional core of the University of Virginia—the place where our beliefs reside, where we commit every day to the expansion of knowledge, freedom of inquiry, and open dialogue.

That’s why I and so many others are determined to accomplish a landmark program to restore, renovate, and repair Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village. The Jeffersonian Grounds Initiative is our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure that this historic precinct remains a thriving academic center for both U.Va. and visiting students and faculty, as well as a vital cultural heritage site for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world.

We cannot afford to wait. Time, the elements, and constant use have taken a toll on the Jeffersonian Grounds. Marble column capitals on the Rotunda are crumbling. Cores of the Colonnades are eroding. Air conditioning units hang from Jeffersonian windows. The ranges must be sand-bagged in rainy weather. A fire nearly destroyed Hotel A, and only a chance discovery led to a $4 million emergency repair of chimneys and installation of a fire-suppression in student rooms.

The total cost of maintaining a masterpiece is high, in the many millions of dollars. Yet the opportunities are unprecedented. Restoring the Jeffersonian Grounds opens the door to new discoveries in archeology, history, landscape architecture, and conservation. We’re already making great strides:

  • Phase I of the Rotunda renovation was completed in 2013. The project included installing a new oculus and copper roof, making extensive masonry repairs, and refurbishing the window sashes and architraves. Phase II has just begun. Work to replace the marble column capitals and to provide all new building systems is part of this phase.
  • The University has contracted with award-winning landscape architect Laurie Olin, of OLIN, to create a design for the Rotunda courtyards and North Terrace. Patricia O’Donnell, principal of Heritage Landscapes LLC, led the creation of the University’s first-ever Cultural Landscape Report to document the conditions of the Lawn, gardens, and other landscapes, and guide decisions within the World Heritage site’s boundary.
  • The University is developing plans for a new interpretive center that will enhance the visitor experience, complement the University Guide tours, and provide interactive displays for rotating exhibits and tour highlights.

With our unique situation—as a living, breathing, constantly evolving institution of higher learning—comes a tremendous amount of responsibility. We have an obligation to our national heritage, the students and faculty, and to future generations. That sense of duty is what drives me each day to ensure that we’re giving the appropriate care and feeding to these nearly 200-year-old buildings and grounds. It’s what drives everyone involved in the Jeffersonian Grounds Initiative.

The restoration of the Academical Village gives the University a chance to renew its commitment to our community of learners and to educate visitors from around the world about Jefferson as the architect of American democracy and higher education.

March is National Women’s History Month



The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area highlights destinations that chronicle important contributions made by women.

By Shuan Butcher

As Women’s History Month is celebrated each March, one region in the country is highlighting the significant contributions women have made throughout the nation’s history and encouraging individuals to visit specific sites to learn more.  The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area, known as the region Where America Happened™, contains more history than any other in the nation and includes: National and World Heritage sites, over 10,000 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, 49 National Historic districts, nine Presidential sites, 13 National Park units, hundreds of African American and Native American heritage sites, 30 historic main street communities, sites from the Revolutionary War, French-Indian War, War of 1812 and the largest collection of Civil War sites in the nation.

Collapse & Expand Article Here

This 180-mile long, 75-mile wide swath of land that stretches from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia, contains a rich collection of sites that chronicle important contributions women have made throughout history.  Here are a few suggestions that will help you decide to Take the Journey™.

Elizabeth Thorn Memorial-- image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/soaptree/4478790703/

Elizabeth Thorn Memorial, Gettysburg

While most envision men and boys marching the battlefield in Gettysburg, PA, many of the town’s heroes are actually women. After the epic battle in 1863, women were often the only ones to tend to the wounded and take charge in cleaning up the town. One such woman is Elizabeth Thorn. Her husband Peter was the caretaker of Evergreen Cemetery, and was off fighting in another part of the country. At the urging of the community, Elizabeth who was six months pregnant and the mother of three children, dug over one hundred graves in the rocky soil in the extreme July heat.  Today, a statue of Elizabeth Thorn stands outside the cemetery gatehouse as part of the Gettysburg Civil War Women’s Memorial.  For more information, visit www.gettysburg.travel.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

Continuing down Route 15, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway, visitors should stop by the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, MD.  This site promotes the life and legacy of the Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, the first native-born saint from the United States.  Seton, who lived, worked, died, and is now buried here, founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s.  Her enduring legacy now includes hundreds of schools, social service centers, and hospitals throughout the world.  She was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975 in St. Peter’s Square.  Check out www.setonheritage.org for additional details.

Clara Barton in 1865 in an image by Matthew Brady.

Clara Barton in 1865 in an image by Matthew Brady.

Near Sharpsburg, Maryland, a monument stands at Antietam National Battlefield to Clara Barton, one of the most honored women in American History.  Known as the “Angel of the Battlefield,” Barton brought supplies and nursing aid to the wounded at several Civil War battle sites, including Antietam, Cedar Mountain, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Harpers Ferry, and others.  She later founded the American Red Cross in 1881 and led it for the next 23 years.  For more information, visit www.nps.gov/anti.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis by Cate Wyatt

Image courtesy of Cate Magennis Wyatt

First Ladies also left their mark within the region.  Jackie Kennedy’s style and grace epitomized Loudoun County’s horse country and its capital, Middleburg.  In the early 1960s, the Kennedy’s used Middleburg as an escape from Washington by leasing, and then building, their own country retreat.  In the 1990s, Jackie Kennedy Onassis often returned to spend foxhunting weekends in the Middleburg countryside, which was filled with happy memories from her time as First Lady. Today, visitors can see memorabilia at the Red Fox Inn and other establishments the First Lady patronized, and the town’s public pavilion and garden are dedicated to Jackie.  For more great places to visit in the area, check out www.visitloudoun.org.

In Spotsylvania County, the Spotsylvania Museum has a special exhibit at the Spotsylvania Towne Center about the Battle of Chancellorsville, which commemorates its sesquicentennial in May.  The exhibit features the Hawkins Girls, who were at home at the time of General Stonewall Jackson’s Flank attack across their property.  The exhibit will be on display through May 2.  To learn more, check out www.spotsylvania.va.us.

edna_lewis_wp

Edna Lewis

Edna Lewis, born in Freetown, Virginia, inspired a generation of young African American chefs and ensured traditional Southern foods and preparations would live forever.  Before her culinary journey began, Lewis found work as a seamstress and copied Christian Dior dresses for Dorcas Avedon.  She made a dress for Marilyn Monroe and became well known for her African-inspired dresses.  Eventually, Lewis opened up Café Nicholson, a restaurant located in Manhattan’s East Side. She became a local legend and cooked for many celebrities such as Marlon Brando, Marlene Dietrich, Tennessee Williams, Greta Garbo, Howard Hughes, Salvador Dali, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Truman Capote.  Known for her simple, but delicious Southern cooking, Lewis authored three seminal cookbooks and is lauded as one of the great women of American cooking. A new food festival, created in 2012, recognizes the culinary contributions the Orange County native has made.  The 2013 event is scheduled for August 10th.  Details can be found at www.ediblefest.com.

Elizabeth Kortright Monroe

Elizabeth Kortright Monroe

And finally, visitors should also make a point to stop at Ash Lawn-Highland in Charlottesville, Virginia.  This home of President James Monroe, and his wife Elizabeth Kortright Monroe, served as the official residence of the former first family from 1799 to 1823.  Here, they regularly welcomed friends, neighbors, dignitaries, and other visitors with warm hospitality.  To learn more, visit www.ashlawnhighland.org.

There are many other historic sites pertaining to notable women within the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area.  Maps, suggested itineraries, and other travel resources are available at www.hallowedground.org or by calling 540-882-4929.

Presidents Day Along The Journey



Abraham LincolnPresidents Day provides a great opportunity to visit the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area.  Known as the region Where America Happened™, the region contains more history than any other in the nation and includes: National and World Heritage sites, over 10,000 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, 49 National Historic districts, nine Presidential homes, 13 National Parks, hundreds of African American and Native American heritage sites, 30 historic main street communities, sites from the Revolutionary War, French-Indian War, War of 1812 and the largest collection of Civil War sites in the nation.

Collapse & Expand Article Here

This 180-mile long, 75-mile wide area swath of land that stretches from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia, contains a rich collection of presidential sites to visit around Election Day.  Of course, there are the traditional places where Washington slept, but many other presidents visited or lived within this historic region.Gettysburg, PA is primarily known for the battle that took place there in 1863.  But it is also home to the Eisenhower National Historic Site.  The former home and farm of General and President Dwight EisenhowerDwight D. Eisenhower served the President as a weekend retreat and a meeting place for world leaders. With its peaceful setting and view of South Mountain, it was a much-needed respite from Washington and a backdrop for efforts to reduce Cold War tensions.  For more information, visit www.nps.gov/eise.

Nearby, tucked away in the Catoctin Mountain region of Maryland sits the presidential retreat known as Camp David.  Essentially, every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has been traversed to this retreat site while they were in office.  Although it is closed off to visitors, individuals can visit the Camp David Museum at the Cozy Restaurant and Inn located in Thurmont.  The museum celebrates the rich history of Camp David, formerly known as Shangri-La, through pictures and memorabilia of presidents from Hoover up through today.  Other information is available at www.cozyvillage.com.

Traveling down Route 15, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway, visitors should also stop in Middleburg, Virginia.  Considered the capital of Loudoun County’s horse country, President John F. and Mrs. Jackie Kennedy leased and then purchased a place in the quaint town as their own country retreat.  In the 1990s, Jackie Kennedy Onassis often returned to spend foxhunting weekends in the Middleburg countryside, which was filled with happy memories from her time as First Lady.  Today, visitors can see memorabilia at the Red Fox Inn and other establishments visited by the first family.  The town’s public pavilion and garden are dedicated to her.  To learn more, check out www.visitloudoun.org.

Montpelier, located near Orange, VA, was the lifelong home of James Madison, the “Father of the James MadisonConstitution” and fourth President of the United States. The mansion core was built by Madison’s father circa1760. The house has been newly restored to the way it looked when James and Dolley Madison returned from Washington in 1817, following Madison’s two terms as President. The 2,650-acre estate features the Madison mansion, 135 historic buildings, a steeplechase course, gardens, forests, the Gilmore Cabin, a farm, two galleries and an Education Center with permanent and changing exhibits, many archaeological sites and an Archaeology Laboratory.  Information can be found at www.montpelier.org.

In Charlottesville sits Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, third President of the United States and noted architect and inventor. Jefferson began construction on his “little mountain” home in 1769 and, after remodeling and enlarging the house, finally finished 40 years later in 1809.  For more information, visit www.monticello.org.

Jefferson’s friend and neighbor James Monroe owned Ash Lawn-Highland, along with his wife Elizabeth Kortright Monroe, from 1793 to 1826 and their official residence from 1799 to 1823.  Ash Lawn-Highland is an historic house museum and 535-acre working farm of the former U.S. President and Revolutionary War veteran.  Check out www.ashlawnhigland.org for more details.

Also in the area is Pine Knott, the country retreat of Theodore and Edith Roosevelt and their children from 1905 to 1908 during his term as President.  This rural retreat from the “city environment” of Washington, D.C. provided a sanctuary for the Roosevelt family where they could hike, observe birds and wildlife, hunt, ride and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. The building had no plumbing, toilet, heat, or electricity or other facilities for the family, with a minimum of rustic comfortable furniture.  Check outhttp://www.theodoreroosevelt.org/modern/pineknot.htm.

In addition to the sites listed above, several other presidents visited towns and locations throughout the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area.  For example, President Lincoln’s footsteps can be traced to several locations.  After the Battle of Antietam, he visited the site to meet with Union generals as well as wounded soldiers.  During that trip, he stopped in other places such as Harpers Ferry, WV and Frederick, MD, where he gave remarks to citizens gathered on the street.  And a year later, he gave a short address in Gettysburg that would is recited today by many around the world.  Travelers interested in getting the presidential experience will find maps, suggested itineraries, and other travel resources are available at www.hallowedground.org.

Emancipation Proclamation 150TH



web_civil_rightsOn January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed and issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  An area of this country that was not only affected by this decision, but was the catalyst behind it, and advanced the cause of freedom for decades after, has plenty of historic sites for travelers wanting to experience the full spectrum of this piece of American History. The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area contains a rich collection of historic destinations that chronicle the African American experience, from slavery to civil rights, including the Battle of Antietam which was the catalyst for the preliminary issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation by our nation’s 16th president.  In addition to the plethora of Civil War battlefields (including Gettysburg, Manassas, Harpers Ferry, Monocacy, and Wilderness) that interpret the issue of slavery to varying degrees, here are a few additional suggestions that will help you decide to Take the Journey.

Collapse & Expand Article Here

Antietam National Battlefield, located in Washington County, Maryland, is a must for visitors interested in learning more about the Emancipation Proclamation.  The Union victory at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, led President Lincoln to release the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation five days later.  The Emancipation Proclamation substantially altered the character of the war from Restoration of the Union alone, to freedom for all. As Historian Bruce Catton wrote, “It finally determined that the Civil War was not merely a war for reunion but also a war to end human slavery; turned it from a family scrap into an incalculable struggle for human freedom.”  For more information visit, www.nps.gov/ancm/index.htm.Another not to miss place to visit within the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area is Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  The historic quaint town has played a prominent role in the Civil Rights movement, starting with John Brown’s uprising there in 1859.  On May 30, 1881, abolitionist Frederick Douglass gave an address on John Brown on the campus of Storer College, stating “If John Brown did not end the war that ended slavery, he did at least begin the war that ended slavery. If we look over the dates, places and men, for which this honor is claimed, we shall find that not Carolina, but Virginia- not Fort Sumpter, but Harper’s Ferry and the arsenal- not Col. Anderson, but John Brown, began the war that ended American slavery and made this a free Republic.”  Harpers Ferry continued to be at the center of the African American experience in the early Twentieth Century.  The Niagara Movement convened there in August 1906 with leaders such as WEB Dubois and others, which became the precursor of the NAACP.  For more information, visit www.nps.gov/hafe/index.htm.

The Historic Preservation Society of Gettysburg – Adams County (HGAC) leads Underground Railroad tours at the site of McAllister’s Mill, adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park along the Baltimore Pike. The site, now a ruin with foundations and waterways still visible, was most probably one of the first stops made in Adams County by people seeking freedom on their flight north from slavery. About two miles south of Gettysburg and six miles north of the Mason-Dixon Line, McAllister’s Mill provided shelter to hundreds of freedom seekers during the years leading up to the Civil War. After receiving assistance at the late 18th century grist mill, the formerly enslaved were guided north about 10 miles into Upper Adams County to the homes of free African Americans and Quaker Abolitionists, forming critical links in one of the earliest regional networks of the Underground Railroad in the nation.  In 2011, the McAllister Mill site was accepted into the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, a nationwide collection of sites that have a verifiable association to the Underground Railroad.  To make arrangements for one of the tours, which start in May, call McAllister Mill Tours at (717) 659-8827.  For more information on the Network to Freedom, consult the NPS website at www.nps.gov/history/ugrr.

Two historic sites in Frederick, Maryland highlight the discourse that occurred over the issue of slavery.  At Kemp Hall, members of the state’s legislature hotly debated the issue as they met to decide whether to secede from the union.  Also, the Taney House interprets a property owned by Roger Brooke Taney, the fifth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Taney was mainly known for his affiliation with the Dred Scott decision.  To get started, check out www.hsfcinfo.org/taney/index.htm

Continuing down Route 15, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway, visitors should stop by Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg, Virginia.  Oatlands was formed in 1798 from 3,408 acres of prime Loudoun County farmland by a young bachelor named George Carter, a descendant of one of Virginia’s first families.  Basing his plantation economy on wheat production, Carter eventually branched out to grow other small grains; and in 1801 he began calling his plantation “Oatlands.”  In 1804 Carter began building a classic Federal-style mansion near the southern boundary of his property. As his farm took hold and his financial position strengthened, he added a terraced garden and numerous outbuildings to the property, including a propagation greenhouse, a smokehouse, and a three-story bank barn.  Just prior to the Civil War Oatlands housed the largest slave population in Loudoun County, numbering 128 people.  On January 5th, the historic site will host a program that includes a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, historical commentary and scene painting from area historians and educators, a lantern-light walk around Oatlands with slave remembrance commentary and hymns, and concluding with discussion and input from those in attendance on the anniversary.  For more information, visit www.oatlands.org.

Let America’s story become yours this February with Prince William County’s free inaugural conference to commemorate the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s passage of the Emancipation Proclamation.  “Lest We Forget: A Conference on Enslavement and Emancipation” will take place February 21-23 at Hylton Memorial Chapel in Manassas, Virginia.  Join noted scholars, historians and actors as they explore the cultural and historical legacies of the antebellum period through dramatic plays, keynote addresses, forums, concerts and roundtable discussions that highlight a period that forever changed our nation.  The conference will conclude with day-long bus tours to significant African American sites in Prince William County, including Lucasville School, a one-room schoolhouse built solely for African American children, Ben Lomond Historic Site, which has one of the few remaining public slave quarters in Northern Virginia and the Jennie Dean School memorial, highlighting a school founded by a former slave and was one of the only sources of higher education for African Americans in Northern Virginia.  Details are available at www.manassasbullrun.com.

The arc of citizenship, from 18th Century Slavery through the Jim Crow Era, can also be found at Montpelier, the former home of President James and Dolley Madison.  Understanding daily life at Montpelier during the 18th and early 19th centuries must include an understanding of the contributions and sacrifices of the enslaved community who were an integral and intimate part of Montpelier life.  The post-emancipation era at Montpelier has come to be defined by George Gilmore and his family. Born into slavery at Montpelier, Gilmore and his wife and children were living as a freed family near the property by December 1865. The Gilmore family eventually purchased a plot of land from Dr. James Ambrose Madison and established a small, independent farm. They resided in a log cabin that would be home to at least three generations of Gilmores.  And finally, the Montpelier Train Station houses a permanent exhibit entitled In the Time of Segregation.  Interpretive panels found in and outside the depot address the local African-American community who lived in this area throughout the period of segregation, the codification of laws which dictated that blacks and whites be given “separate but equal” accommodation.  Like other southern railway stations of the early twentieth century, the station’s depot building was designed to comply with state racial segregation laws. White and black passengers at the depot were required to use separate waiting rooms and ticket windows. During the same era, postal services at the depot were integrated because of federal laws that forbade racial segregation in U.S. post offices. By the end of the 1950s, all of the services at the Montpelier Train depot had become fully integrated. To learn more, visit www.montpelier.org.

The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center preserves the rich heritage and legacy of the African American community of Charlottesville-Albemarle, Virginia. Through inter-generational offerings, the Center will promote a greater appreciation for and understanding of, the contributions of peoples of color locally, nationally, and globally.  The Heritage Center is located in the heart of the African American community, its main constituency. In the early 1960s, the City of Charlottesville undertook an urban renewal project that ruptured the core of the African American community. 

The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, opening December 2012, will create a cultural center where African American traditions and history will be readily available.  For more information, visit www.jeffschoolheritagecenter.org.

There are many other historic sites pertaining to the African American experience, Civil War, freedom, or emancipation throughout the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area. Additional information can be found in “Honoring Their Paths: African American Contributions Along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground,” written by Deborah A. Lee and published in 2009.  Maps, suggested itineraries, and other travel resources are available at www.hallowedground.org.

Lincoln Traverses the Journey



by Shuan Butcher, JTHG Director of Communications

[Antietam, Md. President Lincoln and Gen. George B. McClellan in the general's tent; another view]

President Lincoln and Gen. George B. McClellan in the general’s tent at Antietam, Maryland.

Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” movie (written by Tony Kushner and based on Doris Kearns Goodwin book “Team of Rivals) focuses primarily on the 16th President’s efforts to pass the 13th Amendment.  The roots of that endeavor can be traced to people and actions taken within the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area.  Lincoln himself visited the region on at least two separate occasions, which was the impetus behind Huffington Post writer Kate Kelly’s recent excursion to our region a little over a month ago.  Kelly visited many of the same spots Lincoln did back in 1862 and 1863 (check out her work at www.americacomesalive.com), including:

Collapse & Expand Article Here

Harpers Ferry

Two weeks after the Battle of Antietam and nine days after issuing the initial Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln arrived in Harpers Ferry.  The first site Lincoln came to after crossing the Potomac River was John Brown’s fort.  Dennis Frye, chief historian at Harpers Ferry National Park, stated that Lincoln’s reflections at that time very much could have been about his desire to finish what John Brown had started a few years earlier.  Lincoln had become hardened in his actions toward the South by that point.  Two months earlier the Second Confiscation Act was passed and a few days later on July 22nd, the President issued a warning to the South.  And then of course, the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was issued.  A much different viewpoint than when he took office.

However, Lincoln’s trip to Harpers Ferry is just part of the story of the town’s prominent role in the civil rights movement.  John Brown’s uprising there in 1859 was a catalytic moment.  On May 30, 1881, abolitionist Frederick Douglass gave an address on John Brown on the campus of Storer College, stating “If John Brown did not end the war that ended slavery, he did at least begin the war that ended slavery. If we look over the dates, places and men, for which this honor is claimed, we shall find that not Carolina, but Virginia- not Fort Sumpter, but Harper’s Ferry and the arsenal- not Col. Anderson, but John Brown, began the war that ended American slavery and made this a free Republic. Until this blow was struck, the prospect for freedom was dim, shadowy and uncertain. The irrepressible conflict was one of words, votes and compromises. When John Brown stretched forth his arm the sky was cleared.”

Harpers Ferry continued to be at the center of the African American experience in the early Twentieth Century.  The Niagara Movement convened there in August 1906 with leaders such as WEB Dubois and others.  Visitors to the area can get a full glimpse from slavery to civil rights in this historic quaint town.

Antietam

After visiting Harpers Ferry, Lincoln visited General George B. McClellan at his headquarters at Antietam about the general’s strategies and tactics following the battle that took place there.  The Battle of Antietam (Maryland) on September 17, 1862, was not the conclusive Union victory President Lincoln had wanted, but it was enough for him to issue his preliminary emancipation proclamation five days later, which stated that on January 1, 1863, all slaves in states still in rebellion would be free. In the proclamation’s wake, the war not only gained a higher moral purpose, but also record numbers of now-emancipated slaves joined the Union Army, thereby increasing its military strength. Indeed, the outcome of the American Civil War was decided on the fields on Antietam, not by the marching armies.

Frederick, Maryland

Before returning to the Nation’s Capital, President Lincoln made one final stop in Frederick.  He stopped by to visit the Ramsey house to visit General George Hartsuff who was recovering from injuries sustained at Antietam.  The President then headed to the B&O train station, where a crowd had begun to gather.  He stopped to make a few remarks, stating:

Fellow Citizens, I see myself surrounded by soldiers and by the citizens of this good city of Frederick, all anxious to hear something from me. Nevertheless, I can only say—as I did elsewhere five minutes ago—that it is not proper for me to make speeches in my present position. I return thanks to our gallant soldiers for the good service they have rendered, the energies they have shown, the hardships they have endured, and the blood they have so nobly shed for this dear Union of ours. And I also return thanks, not only, to the soldiers, but to the good citizens of Frederick, and to all the good men, women, and children throughout this land for their devotion to our glorious cause. And I say this without any malice in my heart toward those who have done otherwise. May our children, and our children’s children, for a thousand generations, continue to enjoy the benefits conferred upon us by a united country, and have cause yet to rejoice under those glorious institutions bequeathed us by Washington and his compeers! Now, my friends—soldiers and citizens—I can only say once more—Farewell!”

Gettysburg

Over a year later, the President made a second visit to the area.  In November 1863, Lincoln came to Gettysburg for the dedication of the new national cemetery.  Gettysburg was at a crossroads, figuratively and physically, during the American Civil War.  The town, just 10 miles north of a slave state and the Mason-Dixon line, had one of the largest African-American populations in the North (per capita).

His remarks, now known as the famous Gettysburg Address, lasted for approximately 2 ½ minutes.  His speech was rooted in thought and previous remarks dating back months prior, to at least the summertime.  Another interesting piece of information about Gettysburg to note is that Thaddeus Stevens (a prominent figure in Spielberg’s “Lincoln” movie, played by Tommy Lee Jones) had a law practice near the town square for over twenty years.

(Sources:  Dr. Allen Guelzo, Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College, Dennis Frye, Chief Historian at the Harpers Ferry National Park, Antietam National Battlefield, Harper’s Weekly)