Deep into several research projects, including one exploring early Jersey City history, I’ve been leafing through books and jotting down notes at the New York Public Library or the Jersey City Free Public Library on many evenings and weekend afternoons.
Dutch Jersey City
Washington Irving, Gibbet Island, and Jersey City
My post from last summer examined the connection between Washington Irving, America’s first international author and a connoisseur of Dutch culture, and the village of Communipaw—a part of contemporary Jersey City.
This post has proven to be my most read piece with visitors from around the globe, illustrating the power and the possibility of culture—whether it be art, literature, music, or cuisine–to transcend nationality, race, religion, and ethnicity. Although culture is often mocked by power and society (including President Obama, disappointingly enough), culture does not only enrich individual lives, but it intellectually and even spiritually serves as the bedrock of civilization. If a society does not value culture, what might it become? ISIS is the most horrific contemporary example.
But I digress.
The Peach Tree War
My blogging has been sporadic during the past several months, and my attention has wandered far afield from my original subject of Jersey City. This post marks an intellectual return to the forgotten Dutch empire on the banks of the Hudson River.
Following the Pavonia Massacre, hostilities between Dutch colonists and the surrounding Native American tribes continued until a treaty was brokered in 1645. Two years’ later in 1647, Willem Kieft was recalled to the Netherlands to account for his troubled leadership and management of the colony. Peter Stuyvesant arrived in New Netherland in 1847 to replace Kieft as the Director-General. Kieft died in a shipwreck off the coast of Wales en route to Amsterdam to address the charges against him. Continue reading
From the Pen of Washington Irving
Best known for his classic short stories “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle,” Washington Irving was America’s first man of letters. Being the first American writer to gain a European audience, Irving elevated not only his professional stature but that of American literature. His position allowed Irving to advocate for emerging authors, such as future heavyweights Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, and to agitate for strong copyright laws to protect authors’ work and livelihood.
While leafing through Dutch New York: the Roots of Hudson Valley Culture, I discovered the artist John Quidor (See a previous blog post on the book itself).
Many historic and literary types likely have seen reproductions of Quidor’s paintings inspired by Washington Irving’s two more popular short stories, Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, in various American literature compilations and studies.