Greetings! As evidence of some of the servicewide interest in our project, I was contacted recently by Phil Lupsiewicz of Lowell National Historical Park (LOWE) and Chuck Arning of Blackstone River Valley NHC (BLAC) — both copied in above.
In addition to sharing kudos for our project, Phil also noted a few ways the LOWE and BLAC might fit into the themes we’re working with. Here’s what he shared:
Finally, I thought you might find the story of Lowell as well as the Blackstone and even Boston NHP of interest. Lowell & Blackstone certainly deal with the pre-civil war nation, Chuck can speak more of the Blackstone Valley’s contribution also during the war. Lowell was home to Ben Butler and the 6th Mass (who were involved int he Baltimore Riots and the remains of Luther Ladd and Addision Whitney reside in a monument of honor in front of city hall). And Boston has the Navy Yard, where warships, including a number of ironclads were built.
In addition, Chuck followed up today with this insight:
Just to follow-up on Phil’s comments, the Blackstone Valley which runs from Worcester, MA in the north to Providence, RI in the south began America’s journey towards industrialization starting with Slater Mill in Pawtucket financed by Almy & Brown, the first successful water-powered cotton-spinning mill / factory in America in 1790. By the time of the Civil War, the Blackstone Valley was an industrial powerhouse that was not just textiles but machinery and tools as well. Interestingly, the Valley also housed a very radical abolitionist movement where many women learned the organizing skills that would lead to the Woman’s Rights Movement. The first National Woman’s Right’s Convention was held in Worcester, October of 1850. A few of the early planning meetings, looking for financing, for John Brown’s Raid at Harper’s Ferry were held in Worcester. 1,000 Worcester residents and another 600 from Providence used the train system to venture to Boston to protest the capture of Anthony Burns, a Freedom Seeker who had made his way out of bondage to Boston where he was working when captured by a US Marshall.
From a Civil War perspective, the radical abolitionist influence from this region had an impact on several local regiments (the 15th Mass, the 21st & the 25th), so when they met the newly self-freed enslaved in the New Bern area of North Carolina (the Burnside Expedition battles) and in Virginia in the Peninsula Campaign under McClellan, where these individual Worcester solders assisted many of these formerly enslaved African Americans to migrate to Worcester. At the same time many young female teachers came to North Carolina to start schools for those newly freed people.. There is a new book, published by the University of North Carolina Press that discusses that migration and some of the background. First Fruits of Freedom: The Migration of Former Slaves and Their Search for Equality in Worcester, MA, 1862 – 1900. It’s a good read.
I have also done some video work on this topic and related one’s including a historical music video on the famous Civil War ballad, The Vacant Chair. If I can dig up some extra copies, I’ll send out your way. However, a quicker way is to contact your local cable access station and have them download the specific episodes from our series Along the Blackstone for they are all up on PEGMedia/org, a media file transfer site. I think it is $0.99 an episode. Phil & I and the staff from both Lowell & Blackstone collaborated on one episode contrasting the industrial story of the Mill City, Lowell, with the mill villages of the Blackstone Valley. It was a lot of fun and very illuminating.
Wow! As you are learning, there is nothing as helpful to our project as park staff eager to help make connections between park units and themes. If you’re having trouble contacting a park and think LOWE or BLAC might be a good substitute, please let the class know via a comment below and we can also discuss on Friday.