Thursday, September 15, 2016

National Museum of American History

We had a hard time deciding which Smithsonian museum to visit, but finally settled on the American History Museum. I am so glad we choose that one! It has a lot of neat artifacts - all from American history!

"For 200 years, this two-and-a-half story house stood at 16 Elm St. in the center of Ipswich, Massachusetts (yes, this is the real house), 30 miles north of Boston. It was built in the 1760s."

All around the house are signs telling you about the lives of the 5 families that lived there. From the abolitionist Caldwell family, a poor girl who worked in a factory, to the patriotic Mary Scott who lived here during WWII, this house is full of history.
The Bible on the table is from 1846 and belonged to the Caldwells.

The next exhibit we went to was the First Ladies. It talked about everything from the dresses they wore to inaugurations, the china sets they had, to the things going on in history during their time.
This is Dolley Payne Todd Madison's brocade evening dress. She was the wife of James Madison and served as first lady from 1809-1817.

This is Grace Goodhue Coolidge's evening gown. She was the wife of Calvin Coolidge and served as first lady from 1923-1929.

This is Nancy Davis Regan's suit. She was the wife of Ronald Reagan and served as first lady from 1981-1989.

This is Laura Welch Bush's inaugural gown. Many of you may remember seeing it as she was one of our most recent first ladies. She is the wife of George W. Bush and served as first lady from 2001-2009.

Some of the White House china from previous first ladies

"This copy of Treasure Island was given to Charley Taft by Edith Roosevelt (first lady from 1901-1909). Inscribed on the cover is "Charley from Quentin's Mother." Charley was the son of cabinet secretary William Taft and a constant visitor to the White House. He took the book with him to read during his father's 1909 presidential inauguration."

"Ulysses S. Grant purchased this carriage during his first term in the White House and rode in it to his second inauguration in 1873."

"The gunboat Philadelphia was built and sunk in 1776. It was constructed in barely two months and is the oldest American man-of-war in existence. It was armed with 3 cannons and a swivel. She fought with the Continental squadron that continuously frustrated British efforts to isolate New England by occupying central New York. "

"The Philadelphia sank on October 11, 1776, at the battle of Valcour Island when a 24 pound shot from British forces hit the boat and caused rapid flooding. The Philadelphia was found in 1935, with its mast barely 15 below the surface of Valcour Bay. "

"The gunboat being loaded by crane onto a barge."

The shot that sank the gunboat

Artifacts recovered from the Philadelphia 

Replica of the gunboat

"In 1973, nearly 200 years after the sinking of the Philadelphia, researchers discovered this payroll at the Fort Concho Museum in San Angelo, Texas - hidden in a portable desk that belonged to Benjamin Rue, the ship's captain. Created 5 days after the battle, the document represents the final muster of the Philadelphia crew."

"A draft wheel was one device used for conscription during the Civil War. For the wooden wheel displayed here, officials placed papers with the names of men eligible for the Union army inside (the state where it was used is not known). They spun the wheel, pulled papers from the hole, and wrote the names on a list of draftees to be called for service. This wheel dates back to about 1863."

Another exhibit we visited was The Price of Freedom. It talked about every war America has been in from the War for Independence to the War on Terror.

An example of George Washington's uniform

Revolutionary War era fife and drum

Replicas of Revolutionary War rifles

Replicas of Civil War Union guns

"Until May 12, 1864, this shattered stump was a large oak tree in a meadow outside Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia. That morning 1,200 entrenched Confederates, the front line of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, awaited the assault of 5,000 Union troops from the Second Corps of the Army of the Potomac. 20 hours later, the once-peaceful meadow had acquired a new name, the Bloody Angle. The same fury of rifle bullets that cut down 2,000 combatants tore away all but 22" of the tree's trunk." The grey things around the tree stump are bullet shells.

"This is Gen. Philip Sheridan's famous horse, Winchester. Originally called Rienzi, the horse was renamed for the town in Virginia where Sheridan began his ride to victory in the battle of Cedar Creek."

WWII jeep

Replica of WWII barracks

American soldiers in Vietnam

"During the Vietnam War, American prisoners were a focus of public attention like never before. The American public knew little of their plight, but were painfully aware of the 726 who were prisoners of war in Vietnam. The North Vietnamese paraded them in a sophisticated propaganda campaign to rode public support for the war. In WWI 4,120 Americans were captured and 3,973 returned, WWII 130,201 were captured and 116,129 returned, Korean War 7,140 were captured and 4,418 returned and in Vietnam 726 were captured and 661 returned. American POWs in Vietnam struggled to survive horrid conditions, physical pain, and psychological deprivation, often for years on end. They exercised as best they could. Some played mind games to keep themselves sane, making mental lists or building imaginary houses, one nail at a time. They drew strength from one another, secretly communicating via notes scratched on toilet paper, subtle hand gestures, or code tapped out on their cell walls. They risked torture and interrogation to communicate secretly with each other. The code was based on two-number combinations that represented each letter. It enabled prisoners to established command structure, keep a roster on captives, and pass information. "Our tapping ceased to be just an exchange of letters and words; it became conversation. Elation, sadness, humor, sarcasm, excitement, depression - all came through." former POW James Stockade."

"There was a Naval pilot, Jeremiah Andrew Denton, Jr., during the Vietnam War who was shot down. He endured almost years in a POW camp. Ten months into it he could no longer endure the torture he was facing. He was forced to participate in a televised propaganda interview that was broadcasted in the United States. While answering questions, he feigned trouble with the television lights and blinked his eyes in Morse Code, spelling the word torture. That confirmed for the US Office of Naval Intelligence that American POWs were, in fact, being tortured. He received the Navy Cross and is buried in Arlington Cemetery." You can watch his interview here.

"In 1987, President Ronald Reagan stood at the Berlin Wall and declared that the free world had bested Soviet Communism. "Freedom is the victor," he said. "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." The governments of the USSR and its satellite nations were wobbling - undercut by 4 decades of opposition to what Reagan called the "evil empire," and internal political and economic reforms begun by Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 after nearly 30 years of separating Germany."

Part of the Berlin Wall

"Created in 1861 to "promote the efficiency of the Navy," The Medal of Honor now ranks as the highest award any service member can receive for valor in combat. The Medal of Honor is the only American military decoration to be wore around the neck rather than pinned to the uniform. Each of the three principal services has a unique design for its medal. The army and navy awards center on the figure of Minerva, a Roman goddess of war and wisdom. The air force award features the head of the Statue of Liberty. The look of today's navy medal is closest to the original medals of the Civil War era; the other two have 20th-century designs. The neck ribbon for all medals includes thirteen stars, symbolizing the thirteen original states of the Union."

posted by Sarah

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