Celebration for 175 years of Texas independence

Source: AP, 2-27-11

The ferry crossing settlement along a trail used for generations by Native Americans and later by Spanish explorers had a single defined street and a dozen shacks and cabins when about five dozen men rode into town to make history.

Their national political convention on the banks of the Brazos River in southeast Texas was in an unfinished hall owned by a gunsmith promised $170 for the rent.

The gunsmith never was paid.

What came out of the discussions over a few days 175 years ago this coming week was the Texas Declaration of Independence, a handwritten document proclaiming Texas was freeing itself from its oppressive ruling government in Mexico. The declaration was modeled after the American Declaration of Independence authored 60 years earlier by Thomas Jefferson.

No other U.S. state has such a distinction.

“The independent spirit that reigned on the Texas frontier during the era of the Texas Revolution can still be seen today throughout the state,” said Light Cummins, an Austin College history professor and the Texas state historian. “Texans today pride themselves on being independent, hard-working, innovative and no-nonsense people, all of which is reflected in our view of those who participated in the Texas Revolution.

“Perhaps for that reason, many Texans believe that this state is different from any other in the nation in terms of its history and its heritage.”

More than 1,100 descendants of the declaration signers replied to invitations and said they’d be at Washington on the Brazos State Park this weekend to take part in activities celebrating the 175th anniversary of Texas’ declaration….READ MORE

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Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History: Frederick Douglass Book Prize Reception

Source: Bloomberg, 2-26-11

Gilder Lehrman Institute

Lois Chiles and Richard Gilder, a co-founder of the Gilder Lehrman Institute and partner, Gilder Gagnon Howe & Co. Photographer: Amanda Gordon

Gilder Lehrman Institute

Lamaria McDonald, a junior at Frederick Douglass Academy; Lewis Lehrman, a co-founder of the Gilder Lehrman Institute and chairman of Ten Squared Management LLC; and Thakane Masondo, a senior at Frederick Douglass Academy. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Gilder Lehrman Institute

Joseph McNay, chairman of Essex Investment Management Co., and a financial supporter of Yale School of Management’s new campus, with Lesley Hermann, executive director of the Gilder Lehrman Institute. McNay is famous in Yale circles for investing money for the class of 1954 ($300,000 turned into $100 million, he said). Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Gilder Lehrman Institute

Ned Blackhawk, a professor of history at Yale, and Judith A. Carney, a professor of geography at University of California Los Angeles. Carney is a winner of the Frederick Douglass Book Prize for “In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World,” which she wrote with her husband, Richard Nicholas Rosomoff. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Gilder Lehrman Institute

Martha Hodes, a history professor at New York University and chairman of the Frederick Douglass Book Prize jury; David Blight, a history professor at Yale and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center; and Eric Foner, a history professor at Columbia. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Gilder Lehrman Institute

Kenneth Morris, president of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation and great-great-great-grandson of Douglass, with Patrick Ojimba, a junior at Frederick Douglass Academy. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Linda Evans and Walter Evans of Savannah, Georgia. Walter Evans, a retired surgeon, has acquired an extensive collection of African-American art and manuscripts including works by James Baldwin and love letters by Frederick Douglass’s son. The museum at Savannah College of Art and Design is building the Walter O. Evans Center for African-American Studies to house parts of his collection. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Ilana Pergam, director of studies at the Chapin School; Chris Forster, a 1994 recipient of the Yale Medal; Betsy Forster, who taught Pergam in elementary school; and Ellen Baylor, head of the history department at Chapin. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Gilder Lehrman Institute

Marsha Andrews, an opera singer; Edward Ball, author of “Slaves in the Family,” a recipient of a National Book Award; and Candace Skorupa, who teaches French at Yale.

Yale alumni Lewis Lehrman, chairman of Ten Squared Management LLC, and Richard Gilder, partner at Gilder Gagnon Howe & Co., gathered with other history fans Thursday night at the Yale Club of New York City.

The occasion marked the awarding of the $25,000 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for nonfiction on slavery. It was named for the self-educated abolitionist, whose great-great-great- grandson, Kenneth Morris, was present.

Enjoying the filet mignon and white chocolate mousse were Joseph McNay, chairman of Essex Investment Management Co., Walter Evans, a manuscript collector who owns several Douglass family scrapbooks, historian Eric Foner and a lot of students from the Frederick Douglass Academy.

Lehrman told two students about Alexander Hamilton. “I started out as a teacher,” he said to Bloomberg News.

“I read all the finalists,” Gilder said.

The two men are the founders and funders of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University, which sponsor the prize.

“Not only is it a mouthful to spit out all those greats, but it makes me feel far removed,” said Morris, president of the Frederick Douglass Family foundation, in after-dinner remarks. “It’s like trying to picture a billion dollars with all those zeroes.”

Prizes went to “In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World” by  and “Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery” by Siddharth Kara, a former Merrill Lynch investment banker.

Foner, a professor at Columbia University, was recently named the 2011 winner of the Gilder Lehrman Institute’s Lincoln Prize for his book “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.”

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