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A Travel Guide With 400+ Left Turns and Inspiring Landmarks
By Jerome Pohlen
Chicago Review Press Incorporated Copyright © 2008 Jerome Pohlen
All rights reserved.
* Connecticut * Maine *
* Massachusetts *
* New Hampshire *
* Rhode Island * Vermont *
One of the most disturbing elements of the Uniting and Strengthening of America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act, better known as the USA PATRIOT Act, is a provision allowing federal authorities to search library and bookstore records of patrons and customers without their knowledge and without a court order. What's more, when librarians (or bookstore owners) are served with a National Security Letter (NSL) requesting this information, they are legally restrained from revealing that agents ever set foot in their buildings, to say nothing of what they didn't take when they weren't there.
In August 2005 the Library Connection, a resource-sharing cooperative serving 26 Connecticut libraries, was served with an NSL demanding access to its computer database. It refused. An NSL was not a warrant under the Constitution, it said, and the ACLU concurred. Four librarians — Barbara Bailey, Peter Chase, George Christian, and Jan Nocek — filed suit against the NSL provision of the act. A federal judge agreed with the plaintiffs, and ruled they could go public with their lawsuit. But the Justice Department appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and the gag order stood.
While the high court sat on the appeal, the Bush administration lobbied for reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act. Alberto Gonzales told Congress that the NSL had never been used at any library ... but wanted to keep the provision anyway. (Remember when perjury was a crime?) Six weeks after the act was renewed, in April 2006, the government dropped its appeal and allowed the plaintiffs to speak about their case. One month later the FBI abandoned its demands for the original information listed on the NSL. The ACLU has vowed to continue its battle to unseal records of NSL abuse by the Justice Department.
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How Would a Patriot Act? by Glenn Greenwald (Working Assets, 2006)
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Prudence Crandall's Forbidden Schoolhouse
Prudence Crandall School and Museum, Routes 14 and 169, PO Box 58, Canterbury, CT 06331 (860) 546-7800
Prudence Crandall was running the Canterbury Female Boarding School in January 1833 when she admitted a young woman named Sarah Harris. Parents and locals were outraged at Crandall's decision. Why? Sarah Harris was black and the other students were white.
Crandall had a choice to make. Rather than submit to the racist pressure she closed her doors in February, then traveled around New England recruiting "young ladies and little misses of color." Seventeen students arrived through the spring of 1833 when the school — the first of its kind in New England — reopened.
Crandall and her pupils were harassed from the opening day. Windows were smashed, manure was thrown down the school's well, and businesses refused to sell her food and supplies. The Canterbury Congregational Church, just across the street from the school, turned away the students who wanted to attend services, so the girls walked miles to the Packerville Baptist Church. Crandall was charged with contributing to vagrancy under an antiquated law, but the charge was thrown out of court. When the bullying didn't work, locals went to the state legislature. Connecticut passed a bill dubbed the Black Law making it illegal to instruct black nonresidents, and Crandall was arrested and thrown into the nearby Brooklyn jail. Though she could have posted bail she stayed behind bars for a night in protest ... twelve years before Thoreau engaged in a similar action in Massachusetts (see page 20).
After three trials a court overturned the Black Law on technical grounds, and Crandall returned to teaching. But a year and a half after she started, arsonists torched the school's cellar. And on September 9, 1834, a masked mob descended on the school, broke in with a battering ram, and trashed the main floor as Crandall and her students hid upstairs. Fearing for her students' safety, Crandall reluctantly closed her doors and fled Canterbury.
Crandall would eventually settle in Elk Falls, Kansas. Well into her 70s, she helped former slaves, known as "Exodusters," settle into new lives on the prairie. In 1886, prodded in part by Mark Twain, the Connecticut legislature tried to make amends by voting Crandall a $400 pension. She died on January 28, 1890, and was buried in the Elk Falls Cemetery. Today her former Connecticut school is a museum.
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The Forbidden Schoolhouse by Suzanne Jurmain (Houghton Mifflin, 2005)
Prudence Crandall by Marvis Olive Welch (Jason Publishers, 1983)
* * * Farmington
Farmington Historical Society, 71 Main Street, Farmington, CT 06032
In the early morning of July 2, 1839, off the coast of Cuba, a slave named Sengbeh Pieh and two others broke free of their chains and seized control of the Honduras-bound Amistad. All but two of the Spanish crew were killed or escaped in lifeboats, and the remaining 50 captives were then unshackled. Sengbeh Pieh, also known as Joseph Cinque, demanded that the crew set the ship on a course toward the rising sun, back to Africa. Over the next 63 days the Amistad sailed eastward by day, but was redirected west at night. It landed off Long Island where it was boarded by a navy patrol. The former captives were arrested and brought to New London, Connecticut.
The Africans were imprisoned in a New Haven brig while awaiting their trial in Hartford for murder, mutiny, and piracy. On January 23, 1840, Judge Andrew Judson ruled that the group were free men, not property, and that they could return to Africa. But the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. They were defended by former president John Quincy Adams, who secured their release on March 9, 1841. Justice Joseph Story ruled they had been "illegally kidnapped and had the right to self defense from their captors."
But how would they get back home? On March 19, residents of Farmington, many of whom were abolitionists, welcomed the Africans, all Mende, into their community until funds could be raised for passage back to their homeland. The Mende attended morning classes six days a week, and in the afternoon farmed a 10-acre plot given to them by the community. On Sundays they were welcomed at the First Church of Christ, Congregational (75 Main Street).
The Mende lived in Farmington for eight months. When sufficient funds were raised, they departed for Sierra Leone on November 25, 1841, after a tearful farewell at the church. Their experiences with the Amistad refugees led many in Farmington to become more active in the abolitionist movement, including work as conductors on the Underground Railroad.
A half-hour reenactment of the Amistad trial is performed on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Old State House in Hartford (800 Main Street) where the first trial took place. In New Haven you can find a monument on the site of the navy brig where the escapees were imprisoned (165 Church Street). A replica of the Amistad — the Freedom Schooner Amistad — was launched from Mystic, Connecticut, in 2000 and visits ports around the world. Its home port is New Haven's Long Wharf Pier.
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Amistad America, www.amistadamerica.org, (203) 495-1839
Old State House, www.ctosh.org, (860) 522-6766
Black Mutiny by William A. Owens (Black Classics, 1997)
Mutiny on the Amistad by Howard Jones (Oxford, 1987)
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Alice Cogswell, Thomas Gallaudet, and the American School for the Deaf
Gallaudet Square, Farmington and Asylum Avenues, Hartford, CT 06105
Around 1810, two-year-old Alice Cogswell was left deaf after a bout with spotted fever. Without the ability to hear she gradually lost her ability to speak. But in 1815 the Cogswells' neighbor, a young preacher named Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, read about revolutionary methods used to educate the deaf in Europe. He convinced the girl's father, Dr. Mason Cogswell, to send him to l'Institut National de Jeunes Sourds in Paris with the goal of returning to Hartford to teach Alice. Gallaudet did return, along with deaf priest Laurent Clerc, and established America's first school for the hearing impaired on April 15, 1817. Class was held in the Old City Hotel on Main Street (since torn down). Three students, including Alice Cogswell, were the first pupils.
Cogswell went on to be the first deaf student to receive a comprehensive education in the United States. The American School for the Deaf grew quickly, and had 33 students by the end of the first year. Within a few years it had 100 students and a new, permanent building. Gallaudet continued as its principal until he resigned in 1831. He died on September 10, 1851, and was buried in Hartford's Cedar Hill Cemetery (453 Fairfield Avenue).
In 1921 the American School for the Deaf relocated to West Hartford (139 N. Main Street). The original building was eventually torn down, but a monument to Cogswell now stands just east of the site in what is today Gallaudet Square. Another statue, with both Gallaudet and Cogswell signing the letter A, stands in front of the school's current location in West Hartford.
Thomas Gallaudet's influence continued even after his passing. In 1864 his son, Edward Miner Gallaudet, became the first president of Gallaudet College (later Gallaudet University) in Washington, D.C. (see page 64).
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www.asd-1817.org, (860) 570-2300
A Deaf Child Listened by Anne E. Neimark (William Morrow, 1983)
* * *
Horace Bushnell and the Birth of the Municipal Park
Bushnell Park, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106
When it was first proposed it was a novel idea. Minister Horace Bushnell offered a solution for the urban eyesore along Hartford's Hog River: a public park. On January 5, 1854, the City of Hartford voted to purchase a stretch of land that was being used by local tanneries and a soap factory as a dumping ground. The land was cleaned up and opened to the general public. Three days before Bushnell's death, on Valentine's Day 1876, the nation's first municipal park was renamed in his honor.
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* * *
Griswold v. Connecticut: The Right to Privacy
Clinic Site, 79 Trumbull Street, New Haven, CT 06511
In the early 1960s Connecticut still had an 1879 law on its books that made it a crime to use birth control. Hardly a holdover, it was codified by the state legislature as late as 1958: "[A]ny person who uses any drug, medicinal article, or instrument for the purpose of preventing contraception shall be fined not less than fifty dollars or imprisoned not less than sixty days nor more than one year or be both fined and imprisoned." Physicians and counselors who provided birth control information faced the same punishment.
The Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut (PPLC), under executive director Estelle Griswold, actively challenged the state's draconian statute. It established a clinic in New Haven for the sole purpose of getting Griswold arrested, and announced its intentions, "[The PPLC], with the full backing of the national birth control movement, will take steps as rapidly as possible to offer, under medical supervision, all contraceptive techniques." The clinic opened its doors on November 1, 1961, and on November 2 Griswold held a press conference and confirmed that it had provided birth control advice to six women the day before.
A day later, James Morris, a night manager of a local rental car agency, swore out a complaint against the clinic. That afternoon two detectives showed up and Griswold enthusiastically assisted with their investigation. On November 10, arrest warrants were issued for Griswold and Dr. C. Lee Buxton, the clinic's head physician. Both turned themselves in and were released on $100 bonds, and the clinic was closed. The triumphant Morris observed, "I think that a Planned Parenthood Center is like a house of prostitution. It is against the natural law, which says that marital relations are for procreation and not entertainment."
Griswold and Buxton were found guilty at their first trial, and in appeals before the state's appellate and supreme courts. The U.S. Supreme Court overruled those decisions on May 11, 1964. Writing for the 7–2 majority, Justice William O. Douglas wrote, "Would we allow the police to search the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives? The very idea is repulsive to the notions of privacy surrounding the marriage relationship." Douglas went even further, asserting that the Bill of Rights cast a penumbra of "peripheral rights" to privacy that weren't specifically detailed in the Constitution. For example, freedom of the press included not just the right to publish information, but to distribute that information, read that information, and teach that information.
The Griswold decision only applied to married couples; contraceptive rights for single persons were not affirmed until 1972 with the court's Eisenstadt v. Baird decision (see page 18).
* * *
www.plannedparenthood.org, (212) 541-7800 Griswold v. Connecticut by John W. Johnson (University Press of Kansas, 2005)
Bishop Samuel Seabury and the Separation of Church and State
Glebe House, 49 Hollow Road, Woodbury, CT 06798 (203) 263-2855
When the American colonies issued the Declaration of Independence, they weren't just breaking away from the British monarchy, but the Church of England as well. Shortly after the American Revolution began, a group of Episcopalians met in the home of priest John Rutgers Marshall — Glebe House — and elected Reverend Samuel Seabury to be the first Episcopal bishop in the new United States. Given their negative experiences with the British, the group also proclaimed that in his new capacity Seabury should not mix their religion with the government. Their action set the foundation for separation of church and state in the new republic.
* * *
Samuel Seabury, 1729–1796 by Bruce Steiner (Ohio University, 1972)
Each morning the sun shines on Maine before every other state, which explains Maine's motto: "Dirigo," Latin for "I lead." So when Governor John Baldacci launched a bold healthcare initiative in 2003, the first of its kind in the United States, he titled it the Dirigo Health Reform Act. The bill's goal was to provide affordable health insurance to Maine's uninsured working families and poor, while instituting measures to keep a lid on spiraling costs yet improve the overall quality of care. Enrollees would receive subsidized health insurance based upon their ability to pay. By heading off problems before they got worse, participants could avoid expensive medical procedures and emergency room visits.
The legislation passed with broad, bipartisan support, but has since run into criticism from insurance companies. Even though they were receiving state funds (and additional customers), they complained that they were not seeing any financial benefit from the program. Maine's insurance commissioner ran the numbers and found that companies had saved $43.7 million in the two years since Dirigo was launched, but apparently that wasn't enough. The industry, backed by GOP lawmakers and conservative foundations, sued the state to revise or scrap the program. Baldacci's opponents used it to bad-mouth him in the 2006 election. "Leave it to the private sector," they said, presumably because the free market has worked so well in the past ...
Excerpted from Progressive Nation by Jerome Pohlen. Copyright © 2008 Jerome Pohlen. Excerpted by permission of Chicago Review Press Incorporated.
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