Archive | Liberty

Casting A Historic Vote

When Americans think of the voting and civil rights movements, names like Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, and Martin Luther King Jr. often spring to mind. Few people might remember that one of the key figures at the intersection of these two movements was a New Jersey man named Thomas Mundy Peterson: the first African-American […]

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Lessons in Leadership from Woodrow Wilson

In 2003, I was fortunate to be able to purchase Woodrow Wilson’s former residence in Princeton, NJ.  Wilson and his wife, Ellen, designed the house and hired a New York architect to finalize the plans and supervise its 1896 construction.  As a younger man, I had read Arthur Link’s biography of Wilson and was impressed […]

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With a Lot to Lose, Playful Silk Workers Strike in Paterson

The Paterson silk strike of 1913 was a lot of fun. We don’t usually think of long-ago strikes as fun. The stereotype of early twentieth-century labor conflict is of desperate starving workers, laboring in sweatshops or mines, workers who in Marx’s phrase had “nothing to lose but their chains.” Nothing could be further from the […]

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Paving the Way for My Service to New Jersey

Millicent Fenwick was a great example of a public servant, and was far ahead of her time when it comes to the qualities of leadership she exhibited in office four decades ago. After she was elected to Congress in 1974, she developed a media personality that even had her featured, it is widely agreed, as […]

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On the Eve of the Civil War, Lincoln Takes a Stand in Trenton

On February 11, 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln departed from his home in Springfield, Illinois to take up the burdens of the presidency of a country that was falling apart.  Seven deep-South states had already seceded from the Union.  Delegates from those states were meeting in Montgomery, Alabama to create the new nation of the Confederate […]

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Joining Alice Paul on the Picket Line, A Century Later

It is common for biographers to develop a relationship with their subjects, even those no longer living. And so it was with me and Alice Paul, the famous Quaker suffragist, who led the battle for a constitutional amendment giving women the vote. Our relationship went through phases. She was most accessible in her youth, when […]

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Teaching New Jersey History

One of the things that I was particularly interested in during the twenty-eight years I was on the staff of the New Jersey Historical Commission was how, if at all, New Jersey history was taught in the New Jersey public schools. I personally feel that this is one of the most important roles that the […]

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Ben Shahn: A Re-consideration

In preparation to write this entry, I began to think about when I first became aware of the work of Ben Shahn (1898-1969).  Surely, it was in college art history classes in the early 1980s.  So, I pulled out my notebooks from that time and scoured through them to see what youthful ideas I had […]

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Echoes of the 1930s and the Workers’ Alliance Protests

They were desperate and fearful times.  There had been other depressions in American history, but none before or since have rivaled the Great Depression that began with the Stock Market Crash of 1929.  Unemployment soared throughout New Jersey and the nation leaving over a quarter of the workforce unemployed.  Homelessness remained endemic and malnutrition rife.  […]

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