A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Road Trip!!! (Part 1)

This year my post-busy season road trip took me to Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. I got to visit some amazing historical sites and see some beautiful fall foliage. While you enjoy this visual history of my trip, take a listen to Eleanor Roosevelt's favorite song (we'll get to Eleanor, don't get ahead of yourself):

My first stop was the new LDS church history site in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. The Church has rebuilt Emma Smith's childhood home and the cabin that she and Joseph lived in as newlyweds. I had a tour all to myself, led by two lovely sister missionaries. It was interesting to see some of the historical documents they had on display in the visitor's center, including a handwritten ordination license - written by Oliver Cowdery for Joseph Smith. It reminds me of my missionary authorization card, stating that I was an authorized representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's awesome to think that comes from the same power and authority that was restored by Joseph Smith. (Note 1)
 It was a BEAUTIFUL day, so I walked a bit down by the Susquehanna river to see the leaves. In this river in 1829, Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith baptized each other.

After that, it was lots more driving to get up the the Finger Lakes area of New York.  Below is a picture of the lovely leaves. Pictures don't do it justice.

Staying overnight in the Finger Lakes area, I headed to Rochester, NY the next day. I stopped at Rochester cemetery. It was pouring rain and the grave was not well marked, but I did manage to find the final resting place of Frederick Douglass, who was not only an abolitionist  but also a strong supporter of women's suffrage.

Which leads to Susan B. Anthony's humble gravesite. Apparently in her will she designated only $25 for her tombstone, with the rest of her inheritance going to The Cause. Her family are buried nearby, and I liked that her parents' tomb had the following four words (one on each side): Liberty - Humanity - Equality - Justice. That sums up the message of the Anthony family pretty well.

 After the cemetery, I visited Susan's home in Rochester, which has become a museum. I was there right when they opened so I got a tour all to myself with a docent named Susan! Susan B. Anthony was a unique individual who was just in the right place at the right time - she was unbelievably hardworking and dedicated to progressive causes, and I owe her so much. In a letter to her mother in 1848 regarding abolition, she wrote: "Though the good folks call us crazy fanatics now, the day will come when they must acknowledge their stupidity." Susan would go on to lead the women's rights movement, fighting battles for women's rights to their property, and education, and their children. I learned that Susan met Harriet Tubman at one point - wouldn't it have been SO AMAZING to be a fly on that wall? Those are two impressive and impassioned ladies! In 1873, this house was the scene of Susan's arrest for the crime of ... voting. The U.S. Marshal came to arrest her in this parlor. Ever the egalitarian, she demanded the Marshal put handcuffs on her too because he would have done it for a man (he declined). Susan had voted because she wanted to test the theory that the 14th and 15th Amendments gave ALL citizens the right to vote because the amendments didn't mention gender. The presiding Judge asked her: "You presented yourself as a female, claiming you had a right to vote?" She responded: "I presented myself not as a female, sir, but as a citizen of the United States." After a brief trial, she was convicted and sentenced to pay $100, which she never paid.
 A park near her home has a statute of her and Frederick Douglass (which someone had outfitted with cutesy caps and a banner for Hillary Rodham Clinton). Susan wrote in 1900 that "When I am called home, if there exist an immortal spirit, mine will still be with you, watching and inspiring you." She didn't live to see the passage of the amendment (which she had written with Elizabeth Cady Staunton) that finally gave women the right to vote, but I like to think she was cheering them on from the spirit world. In her life history, she wrote "Cautious, careful people...can never bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to...avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas...and bear the consequences." I admire that - be bold, and do what is right!
 Traveling back to the Finger Lakes from Rochester, the weather forecast predicted a short two hour span without rain, so I hurried to take advantage of that and walk through Watkins Glen state park. It was like being in a splendidly beautiful fall fairy tale. Watkins Glen is a gorge with a river running through it - it has a bunch of waterfalls that are magical.

 Next day brought more rain and a visit to Seneca Falls, NY, where the first women's rights convention was held. Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Staunton had formed a friendship a few years earlier when both weren't allowed to speak or sit with other delegates at the World Anti-Slavery Convention because they were women. Of the five women responsible for planning the convention, only one thought that a list of the women's demands should include the right to vote. I'm glad Elizabeth Cady Staunton was bold enough to hold on to that demand and include it. She also penned the Declaration of Sentiments, an inspired reworking of the Declaration of Independence boldly declaring that all men AND WOMEN are created equal.
Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, site of the first Women's Rights Convention in 1848

Seneca Falls was where Elizabeth Cady Staunton lived with her family for a while. From everything I've read, she was another inspired individual in the right place at the right time. She was a genius scholar and legal mind (as a teenager she cut out laws she didn't like from her father's law library) and had a wicked sense of humor and great heart. Her kids were holy terrors, though (they nailed their brother's clothes to the roof...with him inside them). She wrote many of the tracts and speeches that Susan B. Anthony was able to go out and deliver because she was single and childless. They were the dream team of women's rights, supported by an army of women who don't get enough credit (someday I'll write blog posts about all of them).

On a fateful day in 1851, a mutual friend of both ladies introduced Elizabeth Cady Staunton  to Susan B. Anthony, which is commemorated with a statute in Seneca Falls. For the next 50 years, they would form the backbone of a movement to transform the status of women in America. When it began, women were discouraged from speaking in public, let alone voting or getting a college education.

 After Seneca Falls, I had another long drive ahead of me, so I stopped in Auburn, NY to visit Harriet Tubman's Home for the Infirm. Harriet Tubman is the ultimate heroine. She was born in slavery and walked to freedom, then returned, risking her life to help others escape. She wrote in 1854, "Tell my brothers to be always watching unto prayer, and when the good old ship of Zion comes along, to be ready to step on board." Harriet was one of those people who seized opportunities to help herself and others. She retired to Auburn after a career as a conductor on the Underground Railroad and nurse/spy for the Union army during the Civil War. She was one tough cookie, and she was also kind - here in Auburn she built a home for poor old people with no place else to go, and provided them food, clothing, and health care.
Harriet Tubman Home for the Infirm

Harriet Tubman's home on the right, her barn on the left.

There is plenty more to my road trip, but the Cubs have won the World Series, all's right with the world, and I'll finish this tomorrow.

Note 1: Mormons believe that the priesthood authority to act in the name of God was restored to the Prophet Joseph Smith by angelic visitations, which occurred at or near this site. Thus, it's called the Priesthood Restoration Site.

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