It’s axiomatic that, when visitors come, we find out more about where we live than on our own. Our few visits to Kingston, New York, have always been in the company of visitors, and of course the Hudson River boat trip is de rigueur. This time, though, we stayed on land and visited the Stockade National Historic District and the Hudson River Maritime Museum.
As the brochure about the Stockade District recounts:
In 1658, a group of 60-70 European settlers living along the Esopus Creek moved from the lowlands to the bluff. Board by board, they took their barns and houses down, carted them uphill, and rebuilt them behind a 14-foot high wall.
They did all this because “disputes between the settlers and the Esopus Indians, farming side by side for about five years, had brought both sides to the brink of war.” Peter Stuyvesant, the Director-General of the colony, ordered the move for the settlers’s safety. Despite all this, “the Esopus Indians gave the land for the new village as a gift to honor Stuyvesant.” Somehow I bet there’s more to this story . . .
Within the district sits the Senate House (unfortunately not open the day we visited), where the first elected New York State Senate convened. Also in the district, the Ulster County Court House is the site where New York State’s Constitution was written and adopted in 1777 and where Sojourner Truth, in the early 19th century, became the first parent to sue and win her son’s freedom from slavery.
Truth was awarded custody of her son, but Peter had been beaten badly while in Alabama. Years later she would describe welts the size of her finger when she spoke to groups about it. Master Fowler had been cruel not only to Peter but also to his own wife–he later beat her to death. [citation]
We also visited the Old Dutch Church, with a churchyard containing “tombstones dating back to 1710 that include 77 Revolutionary War soldiers and the grave of New York’s first governor and two-time Vice President, George Clinton, an Ulster County native.” [brochure] Clinton, who served as VEEP under both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, is one of only two VEEPs (the other is John Calhoun) who served under two different presidents.
He was also responsible for preventing the statehood of Vermont for a good long while. Here’s the story, per wikipedia:
The land that is in the present day the state of Vermont was before 1764 a disputed territory claimed by the colonies of New Hampshire and New York. During 1749–64 it was governed as a de facto part of New Hampshire and many thousands of settlers arrived. In 1764 King George III awarded the disputed region, then called the New Hampshire Grants, to New York. New York refused to recognize property claims based on New Hampshire law, thus threatening the eviction of many settlers. Consequently, New York’s authority was resisted by local authorities and the militia known as the Green Mountain Boys. In 1777, having no further hope of rulings from the king or courts of England to protect their property, the politicians of the disputed territory declared it an independent state to be called Vermont. Vermont’s repeated petitions for admission to the Union over the next several years were denied by the Continental Congress, in large part because of opposition from the state of New York and its governor George Clinton.
There was much more to see than we could possibly take in, and it was time for lunch, so we headed back down to the waterfront.
After lunch, the remainder of our time was happily spent in the Hudson River Maritime Museum. This link will give you an idea of the wealth of exhibits it contains, and the photographs, hopefully, a glimpse of its treasures and imaginative displays, including several meticulously crafted models-in-miniature of ships and boats.
Credits: The sources for the quotations are as indicated in the post. The photographs, as always on the blog unless otherwise indicated, are mine.