Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Featured Manuscript: Booker T. Washington Letter

Washington letter to Manning 1915
In honor of Black History Month our featured manuscript is a May, 2015 letter from Booker T. Washington to newspaper publisher James H. Manning. Five months after this letter Dr. Washington would die of congestive heart failure. This and eighteen other letters from him demonstrate the variety of unique manuscripts that can be found in the Lloyd W. Smith Collection housed at the Museum of the Morristown National Historical Park.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Washington was arguably the most famous African American  in the United States. He was born enslaved and grew up to be a successful educator and spokesman for African Americans. He graduated from Hampton Institute and beginning in 1881 he headed the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, now called Tuskegee Institute. Under his leadership Tuskegee aimed to equip its students with teaching diplomas and useful skills in agricultural, domestic and mechanical work.

Washington photograph 1909

When he became President Theodore Roosevelt was convinced that the nation's growth required African-Americans to take a fuller role in national affairs. He began to consult with Washington on a regular basis. On October 16, 1901 President Theodore Roosevelt invited Washington to dinner at the White House.The time was one of immense progress and widespread bigotry. The dinner, when publicized, set off a national scandal accompanied by lynchings and other racial persecutions.

Until his death Dr. Washington worked tirelessly on behalf of Tuskegee, and the Smith Collection includes a variety of letters signed by him to promote expansion efforts at the school.

Washington letter 1900
Washington Letter 1896



LWS Collection (LWS 4974)

Danzer, Gerald A. et al., The Americans, McDougal Littell, 2003
Davis, Deborah, Guest of Honor, Atria Publishing, 2012

Blog Post by Michael P. Collins, Volunteer, Cultural Resources, MNHP

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Federal Shutdown

During the federal government shutdown, we will not monitor or update social media. Morristown NHP is closed for resource protection and safety. For more information, see

Friday, December 21, 2018

Protesting the Stamp Act

Passed by Parliament on March 22nd, 1765, the Stamp Act was one of several acts intended to generate revenue to offset the financial burdens of defending Britain’s growing empire. While failing to raise much revenue, the act actually did much more to raise a rebellion. A full decade before shots were fired at Lexington and Concord, cries for Liberty could be hear out across the colonies. Mobs assembled and staged protests to voice their outrage against the tax, and at British officials tasked with implementing it. These protests took on a previously unseen level of violence and intimidation, which would only escalate over the next ten years. How can something so small as a stamp, set the colonies on a path towards revolution?
Starting with a skirmish on the western frontier of Pennsylvania, the French and Indian war was a small theater of what would become the first global war. Each of the major European nations were drawn into the power struggle over territorial boundaries in Europe, and colonial trade across the Atlantic. While the war started poorly for Britain, they went on to win a string of key victories in North America and India while their Prussian allies defeated French, Austrian, and Russian armies in Europe.

As a result of their victories, at the conclusion of the conflict Britain acquired additional territories from France and Spain. This encompassed all of Canada, Spanish Florida, and the Carribean islands of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Vincent, the Grenadines, and Tobago. While the war was a major victory for Britain, it was a very expensive conflict. Years of fighting burdened Great Britain with an immense debt. By January, 1763 the official exchequer accounts showed the debt at a staggering £122,603,336. The annual interest alone amounted to £4,409,797. Several taxes had already been instituted within England to help pay for the war, but now Parliament had to deal with this crippling debt.

This was not the only financial challenge Parliament faced.  British soldiers would be needed to secure these recently acquired territories, and support the new governments established in them. Additionally,  garrisons of troops had to be maintained to protect the frontier settlements spreading west of the Appalachian Mountains. These lands were held by native tribes, but experienced a flood of farmers, trappers, and wealthy land speculators looking for land and opportunity to the West. The convergence of these two groups led to open conflict along the Appalachian Mountains when several native tribes rose up in defence of their lands in what was called Pontiac's War.

To maintain the peace along the frontier and secure their new colonies, the British Commander in North America Lord Jeffrey Amherst estimated it would require up to 10,000 soldiers and cost an estimated £200,000 a year.This was the first time Britain attempted to maintain a standing army within North America. British officials and Members of Parliament looked to their American colonies to bear some of the financial burden of their defence. Prime Minister George Grenville proposed a series of resolutions intended to fund the soldiers and fortifications required to secure Britain’s vast new territories.

Parliament began their efforts by passing the Revenue Act of 1764, more commonly referred to at the Sugar Act. Almost immediately, Grenville began hinting that further taxes would be needed. In May of 1764, the Prime Minister met with colonial representatives to discuss the new tax but refused to disclose any details. Grenville used the excuse of allowing the colonies to present their own proposals for taxation before releasing the final details of his own plan. Even though colonial agents including Benjamin Franklin and Jared Ingersoll voiced their opposition to a direct tax by parliament, it only strengthened Grenville and Parliaments resolve. In March, 1765 the Stamp Act passed through Parliament without any major opposition.

As word of the new tax spread to across the Atlantic, Boston quickly became the epicenter of colonial resistance. The city awoke on the morning of August 14th to find a body hanging from a large elm tree on the south edge of Boston's’ Commons. The tree stood prominently along Orange Street, the only road going in and out of Boston along the narrow neck connecting the city to the mainland. Anyone entering or leaving the city passed it, and took notice of the body swinging from its branches. Planted in 1646, this “stately elm… whose lofty branches seem’d to touch the skies” earned the title of Liberty Tree because of its symbolic role in the protests. It became a central gathering point for Bostonians as they voiced their frustrations over British policies.  

stamp from the LWS collection,
relief and staple visible
The body which hung swinging from its branches was only an effigy, but it sent a potentially deadly message. Pinned to its chest were the initials A.O. and a note proclaiming “A goodlier sight who e’re did see? A Stamp-Man hanging from a tree!” Everyone knew this message was directed at Andrew Oliver, a “Gentleman sustaining a most unpopular office… that of a Stamp Master.”  Oliver was a wealthy member of Boston's aristocratic elite. Close friend and brother-in-law of the Lieutenant Governor Thomas Hutchinson, Oliver had been selected as the Stamp Distributor in Boston.

back of stamp
Hanging next to the effigy of Oliver was an old jack boot, with the horned head and of an “Imp of the Devil peeping out the top.” The bottom of the boot had been painted green, and it was accompanied by a note labeling it a “Green-ville Sole.” The boot was a not so veiled attack at British Prime Minister Grenville, and the Earl of Bute, the two officials most Bostonians held responsible for the Stamp Act. By midday Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson had sent orders for Sheriff Stephen Greenleaf to cut down the offending effigy. However, many of Boston's tradesmen and laborers flocked to the liberty tree in defence of their handiwork. When faced with a hoard of defenders, Greenleaf was forced to report that “the removal would cost him and his officers their lives.”

As dusk approached protesters cut down the effigy and placed it in a wooden casket. Forming a funeral procession, they paraded through the city to the South End wharves. They arrived at the site of Oliver’s new stamp tax office on Kirby Street. It took the mob less than thirty minutes to destroy, and completely level the brick building. They saved the larger beams and made a ceremony of “stamping” them before carrying them to their next destination, the base of Fort Hill. As the funeral procession passed in front of Oliver's luxurious house, they stopped to make a show of beheading the effigy.

Within sight of Oliver’s home, the mob burned the remainder of the effigy atop a bonfire built from the beams of his former office. When the beams were consumed, the mob looked for more fuel for their fire. They ripped down and broke apart Oliver's fence, carriage house, and opulent horse drawn carriage for firewood. About 11 o'clock an alarmed Hutchinson and Sheriff Greenleaf attempted to stop the destruction. When they arrived the mob cried out “The Governor, The Sheriff. To arms my boys,” and drove them off with a barrage of stones and other debris. When Royal Governor Francis Bernard instructed the Colonel of the militia to beat an alarm to summon troops and put down the riot, the officer pointed out that “if any drummer could be found who was not in the mob, he would be knocked down as soon as he made a sound, and his drum broken.” There would be no way for royal authorities to stop the riot.   
The mob then descended upon the home in search of Oliver, who had by now wisely fled the residence. Unable to find him, they settled upon the complete destruction of his home. The mob completely destroyed the contents of the house; shattering every window, breaking apart furniture, smashing mirrors, tearing the wooden wainscot paneling off the walls, ripping up his garden, and smashing or stealing the contents of his wine cellar. The next day a visibly shaken Oliver, who had yet to even received his official commission from London, promised to resign as Stamp Officer.  

Weeks of building frustration, tensions, and violence came to a head twelve days later on August 26th. A group estimated to be over one thousand assembled around a bonfire on Kings Street in the shadow of the State House. The mob had several targets that evening. The first was the home of Vice Admiralty Court marshal Charles Paxton. However, he successfully avoided harm when the mob learned that he rented the home, and its owner purchased a barrel of rum punch for the mob at a neighboring tavern. Now properly fueled with liquor, the mob moved on to destroy the homes of William Story and Benjamin Hallowell, registrar of the Vice Admiralty Court and Comptroller of Customs respectively.  

Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson’s family was sitting down to dinner when they heard news that they were the mobs’ next target. Hutchinson and his family fled their home, only avoiding the arriving mob by escaping through their backyard garden. Now having much practice, the mob set about systematically destroying Hutchinson's home and belongings over the next several hours. Using axes they cut through the front door, and began to destroy or steal anything in sight; furniture turned to splinters, books and papers shredded, 900£ sterling in coins stolen, and the extensive wine cellar consumed to further fuel the destruction. After chopping through the interior walls and partitions, they moved on to dismantling the slate roof and spending up to three hours hacking off the rooftop cupola. By sunrise all that remained of the mansion was what the mob was unable to rip down; a few surviving brick walls and a portion of the roof. One witness stated that “Gentleman of the army, who have seen towns sacked by the enemy declare they have never before saw an instance of such fury.”

Many throughout Boston decried the extent of the mobs’ violence, and that it had crossed an unspoken line. Mobs had played a powerful voice in shaping or reinforcing colonial culture and politics. Historian Gordon Wood points out that “although the mobs acted outside the bonds of law and of existing institutions… the mobs often showed remarkable restraint, pinpointing their objectives with extraordinary care, end limiting themselves to the intimidations of particular persons and to the selective destruction of property.” Protests were ritualized and symbolic, allowing populations underrepresented in colonial political systems to mock and abuse effigies of those who governed them. These demonstrations typically remained limited within the traditional structure of their community. Mobs typically acted as a reinforcing agent of the existing organization, norms, and authority within the community. They were typically employed against outside agents of change to their economic, political, or social structure.

While the involvement of mobs and public displays in colonial politics was nothing new, the extent of the destruction was shocking for many in Boston. In response to the Stamp Act the actions of the mob signaled a new degree of aggression. Similar to the events in Boston, mobs assaulted and intimidated stamp officials and customs officers in Newport, New Haven, Philadelphia, New York, Wilmington, and Charleston. Across the colonies mob violence, intimidation, and public demonstrations were employed to threaten royal officials into resignation.

In addition to empowering the mob, the Stamp Act also spurred colonial assemblies to a new level of assertiveness as well; starting with the Virginia House of Burgesses. Towards the end of the legislative session when most representatives had already departed for home, a young Patrick Henry took the floor. He successfully pushed through a series of resolutions known as the Virginia Resolves. These claimed that as English subjects, Virginians enjoyed the “right of being governed by such laws, respecting their internal polity and taxation, as are derived from their own consent.”  

Massachusetts acted further by calling for representatives from each of the North American Colonies to meet in New York in October 1765. Delegates from nine of the Colonies attended the Stamp Act Congress as it was called, where they produced petitions to Parliament and King George III. The Stamp Act Congress also passed and sent to Parliament a Declaration of Rights and Grievances. In it they proclaimed allegiance to the Crown and all due subordination to Parliament, while at the same time insisting that without representation in the House of Commons no taxes could be imposed upon them without their consent, except by their respective colonial Legislatures. Committees of Correspondence were formed in each of the colonies to coordinate non-importation and protests against the act. This laid the groundwork and communication network, which would become ever more important over the coming decade.

    As Pennsylvania’s colonial agent in England, Benjamin Franklin was called before Parliament to give testimony regarding the Stamp Act. During this examination, Franklin answered over 160 questions from Members of the House of Commons focused on the colonists attitude towards the Stamp Act, taxation, and Parliament's authority. When asked can “anything less than a military force carry the stamp-act into execution?” he responded “I do not see how a military force can be applied to that purpose. Suppose a military force is sent to America, they will find nobody in arms, what are they then to do? They cannot force a man to take stamps who chooses to do without them. They will not find a rebellion; they may indeed make one.”

Historian Gordon Wood makes a similar observation that “although stamp taxes had been used in England since 1694, and several colonial assemblies had resorted to them in the 1750’s, Parliament had never before imposed such a tax directly on the colonists. It is not surprising, therefore, that this single act galvanized colonial opinion as nothing ever had.” The stamp act brought about a new level of resistance against British policies. Using a campaign of political enlightenment to argue against Parliament, while at the same time relying on the tactics of mob violence and intimidation against British officials within the colonies. Ten years later these tactics would escalate into armed rebellion, sparking the American Revolution.


Adams, John. Diary 11, December 18 to 29, 1765, Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

British Currency Inflation Converter - Bank of England

Currency Exchange, Google

“Examination before the Committee of the Whole of the House of Commons, 13 February 1766,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 13, 2018,

Galloway, Joseph, letter to The New-York Gazette, 15 August 1765, reprinted two
weeks later in the Pennsylvania Journal (29 August 1765), EXCERPTS.
“In 1765, Rebels Sacked the Boston Mansion of Thomas Hutchinson”, New England Historical Society, Jacobson, David L. "John Dickinson's Fight Against Royal Government, 1764." The William and Mary Quarterly 19, no. 1 (1962): 64-85. doi:10.2307/1919958.

Middlekauff, Robert. The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763–1789. Oxford University Press, 2005.

Nash, Gary. The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America. New York: Viking, 2006.

Nesnay, Mary, The Stamp Act - A Brief History, Journal of the American Revolution,  July 29, 2014,

“Patrick Henry’s Stamp Act Resolves, 30 May 1765,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 13, 2018,

“Stamp from the Stamp Act of 1765”, National Postal Museum, Smithsonian Institute,

“The Boston Gazette, and Country Journal,” The Annotated Newspapers of Harbottle Dorr Jr., Massachusetts Historical Society, Monday, August 19, 1765, Sequence Number 167 of 796; Volume 1 of 4.

“The Stamp Act,” The Avalon Project, Yale Law School, Accessed October 15, 2018,

“The Story Behind a Forgotten Symbol of the American Revolution: The Liberty Tree”, Smithsonian Magazine,

“Resolutions of the Continental Congress October 19, 1765,” The Avalon Project, Yale Law School, Accessed October 15, 2018,

Wood, Gordon, The American Revolution, A History. New York: Random House, 2002.

Wood, Gordon, The Radicalism of the American Revolution. New York: Random House, 1992.
exhibit and accompanying brochure
brochure by Evan Sharko

The new tax imposed on American colonists required them to pay a tax on printed paper documents. This included ship's papers, legal documents, licenses, newspapers, even playing cards and dice were taxed. Bellow, see the tax Colonists now had to pay on these everyday items, and what that cost would equate to today.

Any license, appointment, or admission of any counselor, solicitor, attorney, advocate, or proctor, to practice in any court, or of any notary within the said colonies.

Stamp Act Taxes 1765: 10£        In 2017 U.S. Dollars You Would Pay: $2,203

Certificate or any degree taken in any university, academy, college, or seminary of learning.

Stamp Act Taxes 1765: 2£        In 2017 U.S. Dollars You Would Pay: $440

Any license for retailing of spirituous liquors

Stamp Act Taxes 1765: 2£        In 2017 U.S. Dollars You Would Pay: $440

For a pack of playing cards

Stamp Act Taxes 1765: 1 Shilling        In 2017 U.S. Dollars You Would Pay: $11

And a every pair of dice

Stamp Act Taxes 1765: 10 Shilling    In 2017 U.S. Dollars You Would Pay: $110

For every other almanac or calendar for any one particular year (such as Poor Richard’s)

Stamp Act Taxes 1765: 4 Pence        In 2017 U.S. Dollars You Would Pay: $3.67

For every such pamphlet and paper (being larger than half a sheet, and not exceeding one whole sheet)

Stamp Act Taxes 1765: 1 Penny        In 2017 U.S. Dollars You Would Pay: $0.92

For every warrant for surveying or setting out any quantity of land, not exceeding one hundred acres.

Stamp Act Taxes 1765: 6 Pence        In 2017 U.S. Dollars You Would Pay: $5.49

 * This blogpost by Park Guide, Evan Sharko

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Curator, Dr. Jude Pfister, Releases His Sixth Title

Please join us in congratulating our chief of cultural resources Dr. Jude Pfister on the publication of his new book--The Creation of American Law -- which studies the first decade of the United States Supreme Court. Published by McFarland Press, the book fills the need for a stand alone narrative of the pre-John Marshall court. Among the many sources utilized was our own Lloyd W. Smith Archival and Rare Book collection. 

Well done, Jude!  

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Meet the Interns

The Division of Cultural Resources is teeming with academics this summer. We've been lucky enough to recruit high caliber scholars to help with our programming. Be sure to check out their tours, brochures, and toolkits as they unroll. 

Join Morristown NHP this summer for a series of special gallery presentations prepared and presented by our summer interns. Beginning the week of July 23rd and running till August 20th, the interns will present the results of their summer research on select afternoons informally in the galleries at the museum. Some of the presentations will offer multi-media demonstrations and handouts. The interns will be available Monday, Tuesday, and Friday  between 10:30 and 1:30.

Emily Surman, of New Providence, (graduate student at Kings College London) will present two talks: one will look at the political role of women in the early republic. The topic is inspired by a print of Lady Washington’s Levee which hangs in the Style Gallery. Ms. Surman will also be available to discuss the hagiographic iconography surrounding remembrances of George Washington after his death in 1799. This talk is inspired by the Apotheosis of Washington which hangs in the Rare Book Gallery.

Sarah-Jane Matthews, of Chatham, (junior at George Washington University) will be available to answer questions on the influence of Classical Greek and Roman ideas in the Founding Era. The inspiration for this talk is the Society of the Cincinnati Bowl in the Military Gallery.

Phoebe Duke-Mosier, of Mountain Lakes, (junior at Hamilton College), will be available to answer questions on the efficacy of the political sermon during the pre-Revolutionary and Revolutionary periods. This talk is inspired by an exhibit in the Rare Book Room.

Brigit Wolf, of New Providence, (junior at Mount Holyoke College), will curate a small exhibit on the original New Jersey State Constitution of 1776 and the suffrage it granted to women and African Americans. On exhibit will be a volume owned and annotated by William Paterson from the park’s archives. Ms. Wolf will be available to answer questions about the exhibit and changes which occurred in the document regarding suffrage for women and African Americans. The exhibit will be housed in the auditorium at the museum. This exhibit will be a companion to a colonial-era currency exhibit in the same location.

All talks are free and there is no set time to attend. The presentations will occur in the gallery indicated at the museum building at 30 Washington Place, Morristown, NJ. For more information, please contact the park curator at 973-539-2016 x 204.

Jariah Rainey, of Newark, (2018 Westside High School graduate), is helping develop our Backpack Explorer program.  With the help of museum educator, Sarah Minegar, Ms. Rainey is creating a nature-based learning tool for families to use to enhance their trail experience. This kit will include a variety of trail stewardship and citizen science activities, like birding 101, a nature scavenger hunt, and a 'tree museum.'  We hope to have this available for use come early fall.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Meet the Author: Phillip Greenwalt

Our interim Chief of Interpretation is a noted Civil War scholar.  Please join us at his upcoming book talk at Frelinghuysen Arboretum. Details to follow.


Bloody Autumn: The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864

Phillip Greenwalt
Sweep the Shenandoah Valley “clean and clear,” Union General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant ordered in the late summer of 1864.His man for the job: Maj. Gen. “Little Phil” Sheridan, the bandy-legged Irishman who’d proven himself just the kind of scrapper Grant loved. Grant turned Sheridan loose across Virginia’s most vital landscape, the breadbasket of the Confederacy.

In the spring of 1862, a string of Confederate victories in the Valley had foiled Union plans in the state and kept Confederate armies fed and supplied. In 1863, the Army of Northern Virginia used the Valley as its avenue of invasion, culminating in the battle of Gettysburg. The Valley continued to offer Confederates an alluring backdoor to Washington D.C. But when Sheridan returned to the Valley in 1864, the stakes jumped dramatically. Historians Daniel Davis and Phillip Greenwalt, longtime students of the Civil War, have spent countless hours researching the Valley battles of ’64 and walking the ground where those battles unfolded. Bloody Autumn: The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864 shifts attention away from the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia to the campaign that ultimately determined the balance of power across the Eastern Theater.

Greenwalt is the co-Author of A Single Blow: The Battles of Lexington and Concord and the Beginning of the American Revolution April 19, 1775.  He is the co-founder of Emerging Revolution War and historical editor of the Emerging Revolutionary War book series. A prolific American history author, he graduated from George Mason University with an MA in American History; he also holds a BA in History from Wheeling Jesuit University. He currently is a Supervisory Park Ranger in Interpretation & Visitor Services for the National Park Service having served at several National Park Service sites including George Washington National Monument, Thomas Stone National Historic Site, and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

His books will be for sale and will be signed by the author.

June 28 – Morris County
North Jersey Civil War Round Table - Morris County -- 7:14 p.m. at the Haggerty Education Center at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum, 353 E. Hanover Avenue, Morris Twp. (opp. the Morris County Library). Admission - $5. Members & Students – free. NPS Rangers – free