Federal Hall National Memorial &
'The Know Nothing Party' of the 1850's

Welcome to Day # 213 of our "365 Parks in 365 Days" adventure.


The affirmative action taken by one citizen to mow the lawn at the Lincoln Memorial ahead of the Million Vet March in DC this weekend is a heartwarming demonstration of how much Americans treasure our national parks, monuments and memorials that are part of the National Park System.

"These are our memorials. Do they think that we're just going to let them go to hell? No,"  (the mower Mr.) Cox told All-News 99.1 reporter John Domen.


  'President Washington" delights young visitors to Federal Hall National Memorial. Wiki Photo.


If there is any silver lining to the aberration of the shutdown of our government, it must be that Americans are hearing more about our national parks than ever before. In my 30-plus years living  in this country, I've never heard the national parks mentioned so much on TV and in the press. I imagine that anyone who didn't  know about the parks before the shutdown will at least have enough curiosity to ask, "what are these national parks that I'm hearing so much about?"


Yesterday  I received multiple ecstatic responses about our tour of  Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, though I'd have thought that very few people visited this remote location.


"Hi Audrey, I could not resist the urge to tell you that this is MY favorite park! A great wilderness." Los Angeles, CA


"Gates of the Arctic is a place where our youngest son, Peter, spent two summers; first as a student on a backpacking course and then a few years later as an instructor on the same 7 week course.  It was life changing.  Photo below is one he took on his last trip." Minneapolis, MN



 Peter Skold's photo of a  breathtaking view in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.


"This is a beautiful park; I hope to visit it someday. It is wonderful that it is so large.  I agree with you about the shutdown and the persons causing it.  I write to my congressman, Phil Gingrey, with my opinions, but I don't know how much good it does." Atlanta, GA (I feel that our duty as citizens is to inform our representatives of our position on issues, but we can't hold ourselves responsible for outcomes over which we have no control.)


In New York City yesterday I walked a few blocks from our hotel to Grand Central Station. Luckily I was with friends and colleagues as the traffic, noise, bustle and throngs of people might have sent me running for cover if I was alone. It's a marvel that the City' s infrastructure can accommodate so many people and processes. Now I truly appreciate the difference that one's environment makes. If I had to contend with this decibel of life every day it would be very challenging to maintain my serene outlook. Still, I'd have to find a way. Now I have even greater admiration for my friends and others who do this every day and retain their spiritual composure.



 Federal Hall National Memorial on Wall Street was our nation's first capital, saw the inauguration of President Washington, the meeting of the first US Congress and served as the offices of the Supreme Court and the Executive Branch of government. Wiki Photo.


There are 10 units of the National Park System in and around New York City, seven of which we've already visited. As I looked up the other three I was astonished to learn of Federal Hall National Memorial on Wall Street, and that it was the site of some of the most pivotal events in our country,. It was our nation's first capitol, the site of the first meeting of the US Congress and the inauguration of President George Washington in 1789, and the offices of the Supreme Court, and Executive Branch of government.


My first instinct was, "I must get there this weekend," followed swiftly by the realization that I can't visit any of our national parks this weekend, and neither can you. I can only hope that the current radical faction in our Congress goes the way of  The Know Nothing Party of the mid-1800s and swiftly fades into oblivion.


"The American party of the 1850s derived its informal name from its members replying, when asked about their role, 'I know nothing.' The party was anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant. It grew out of the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner, a secret society apparently founded inNew York City in 1849."


Maybe if this park was open and they chose to visit they might learn some lessons about our democracy.



Meanwhile, I am thankful to find this story at New York Harbor Parks:


"Located across from the New York Stock Exchange, Federal Hall  (26 Wall Street) gives visitors the opportunity to learn about the first Congress, George Washington's New York and the history of commerce in the city, via exhibits and national park ranger programs. On display inside is the Bible used by Washington on Inauguration Day and a piece of the stone balcony on which he stood as he was sworn into office.


"This historic site on Wall Street is where the first United States Congress met and where George Washington was inaugurated President in 1789. The current building on the site completed in 1842 and modeled after the Greek Parthenon, was built as a U.S. Customs House and is now a memorial to the nation's founding democratic ideals.


"On the steps of Federal Hall, is the iconic bronze statue of George Washington, by John Quincy Adams Ward, unveiled in 1883 to commemorate the first president's inauguration.

The ground where Federal Hall today stands is rich in history. During the British colonial period it was the location of the original City Hall. It was also the site of the trial of printer John Peter Zenger, whose acquittal on charges of seditious libel in 1735 was a precedent-setting case for freedom of the press. In 1765, the Stamp Act Congress met at historic Federal Hall to protest 'taxation without representation.'


"After the storm of revolution had passed, New York City Hall was remodeled by famed architect Pierre L'Enfant, and became Federal Hall the first capitol of the new nation. It was there that the Bill of Rights and the Judiciary Act were passed. The current building served as a U.S. Customs House and then a U.S. Sub-Treasury, from 1842 to 1920, housing gold and silver in its reinforced basement vaults. It stands today as a memorial to the events which were fundamental in the formation of the nation's democratic ideals.


This iconic bronze statue of George Washington, by John Quincy Adams Ward was unveiled in 1883 to commemorate the first president's inauguration, and greets visitors today at Federal Hall National Memorial. Examiner.com Photo.


"Federal Hall stands as an important reminder of New York City's role in colonial America. On this site, the Stamp Act Congress gathered to protest taxation without representation in 1765, essentially kicking off the Revolutionary War. A few years later, the First Congress composed the Bill of Rights in the same hall, and George Washington took the oath of office as the nation's first president-and what is now the Washington Inaugural Gallery shows off the Bible he used during his swearing in. New York City was early America's capital, and 26 Wall Street was the government's very heart. In 1812, the original building was torn down; the present structure, formerly a Customs House, was completed in 1842. . ."


Maybe we'll all get lucky, our "leaders" will return to sanity, our government will be opened and I might get to visit Federal Hall by Saturday? Living in close relationship with nature and our national parks, I know that something wonderful and amazing can happen at any moment.


 If you've missed any of our "365 Parks in 365 Days" adventures, find them here  (Archive) Pick up your indispensable copy of "Our True Nature" while you're on my website. If you don't have it, you can't know what you're missing....


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