Sunday, September 23, 2018 | ePaper

A visit worthwhile to historical sites

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Mohd  Siddiqur Rahman :
A visit to historical place is, indeed, a fascinating adventure. Last year in July, 2017, I happened to visit Gettysburg War Field and Museum in Pennsylvania State along with my grand daughters, and son-in-law, fortunately enough, this year too, I had the opportunity to visit    the historical homes   of four early founding fathers of the United States of America in Virginia along with same companions in July on 13 and 14, 2018 .My loving readers might have known that Virginia is the birth place of eight Presidents of the United States.  Visiting historical and cultural sites are considered part and parcel of education in all developed countries, so in Summer, being the best season of the year in North America, we experienced large crowd of multiple social groups from home and abroad traveled to Virginia to explore it's the places of interest. In fact, Virginia has plenty to offer our vacations specifically during this fall-summer that ranges from June to September in all calendar years. However, we were excited to be celebrating season’s offer as much as we can and accordingly got ourselves prepared well in advance.
We had never been to Virginia before, 391 miles away from our town, Medford, New York, planned to be covered by road journey.  Before getting into the car, we need to have the preparatory   idea about the location of the state -Virginia, although we know that we can easily get to this place in three ways: by air, river and by road.  As planned, we traveled to the place by road passing through the states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, enjoying the roadside unique panorama filled with plants and textures.  The trees and plants that looked completely bare the other day, now on leaves and flowers, smiling at everywhere, every surroundings with luxuriant growth and greeting us all with deep green forests and faunas all around. Facilities on the highway like nicely structured long bridges over the rivers, flyovers and big tunnels, electronic toll collection and resting and refreshment areas and watchful traffic police on the road, all these have made the travelers’ movement very easy and comfortable. Hence, despite it was long 10 hours drive with two stops, neither traffic jam nor harassment, neither toil nor weariness has affected us in reaching out to the destination.
Virginia is in Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions, located between the Atlantic coast and the Appalachian Mountains.  This was the first English colony in North America. The capital is Richmond. Virginia is called Mother of   Presidents as eight Presidents were born there, more than any other state. The population, as of 2017, is over 8.4 million. The African slaves reached English colonies first 19 or so, arrived in James town, Virginia in 1619, brought by the Dutch trading who had seized them from a captured Spanish slave ship.  Slavery and acquisition of land from displaced Native American tribes played a significant role in the colony’s early politics and plantation economy. The United States originally consisted of 13 states, Virginia was one of them. It had joined Union on   June 25, 1788 and later fought the civil war. Livestock and Livestock products have replaced the cultivation of Tobacco, once the basis of economy. Presently Virginia is the home to the World's largest Internet service provider.
Nevertheless, we are extremely happy to have reached the destination- Virginia safe and sound on 13 July, 2018, now I should be describing briefly hereunder about birth place and lives of the first four Presidents in sequence planned to be visited by us.  
The first president: George Washington (1789-17997). Birthplace: Wakefield in Westmoreland County was born on February 22, 1732, now site of the George Washington Birthplace National Monument. Home: Mount Vernon. Died December 14, 1799 at Mount Vernon. Burial: Mount Vernon. Married: Martha Dandridge Custis.  
1)    Was a master surveyor; life began at age of 16.
2)    President of the Constitutional Convention.
3)    Owned and operated a commercial distillery, producing almost 11000 gallons of whisky in 1799.
4)    Signed into law the first copyright law, the Copyright Act of 1790.
5)    Was an honorary citizen of France, received in 1792.
On entry into the estates, we got captivated by the magnificent mansion along the river-Potomac having 21 rooms, toured all the rooms narrated by the tour guides. Rooms feature original furnishings, period pieces and reproductions. George Washington's estate comprises four separate gardens, in addition, a wooded landscape on the quarter mile-long forest trail. We looked inside more than a dozen building where many of the estate's essential operations-such as laundry, spinning and meat curving-were performed.  We had a view on animal breeds and smith shop of 18th century.  Inside Museum and Education Center illustrate Washington's life story through state-of -the art gallery displays, videos and exhibits.  The farm size was four acre included slave house and a large farm building for storing grain and housing livestock. Washington desired to have a self-sufficient estate, planned and designed plantations and structures by himself. The estate, gardens and farm of Mount Vernon totaled some 8000 acres in 18th century.  Now in the preserve stands 500 acres run by a private association. He owned total 317 slaves including 40 leased from a neighbor and additional 153 dower slaves from his wife - Martha Custis.   These enslaved people had made the maintenance of the vast estate possible.  History reveals Washington did not feel comfortable with the purchase and owning slaves at the end of his life but could not free them, as it was conventional at that time. We also paid tribute to the tomb of the President and the memorials of the slaves. Then along with 50 other visitors went to   the River Potomac in a small ship, while cruising, smart captain entertained us telling a brief history of the Museums, monuments and other establishments stand out on its bank, and with this pleasure trip ended up today's' visit.
The Nation's Third President  - Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809). Birthplace: Albemarle County on April 13, 1743. Childhood home: Lived at Tuckahoe Plantation in Richmond from age 2 to 9.  Home: Monticello . Second home : Poplar Forest. Died: July 4, 1826 in Charlottesville. Burial: Monticello. Married: Martha  Wayles.
1)    Wrote the Declaration of Independence
2)    Father of The University of Virginia and served as it's first President at age 81.
3)    Was Archeologist and architect
4)    Wine aficionado and somewhat of a founding foodle
5)    Kept two Vineyards of Monticello
6)    Doubled the size of America  through the purchase of Louisiana.
 We came to know about his life and legacy left behind for generations. Efficient   tour guides discussed briefly on Jefferson's life and contents of the estate in display like Gardens and grounds, Slave rooms, the Hall, the South Square Room, Parlor, Dinning Room, Study and Bed Chamber, book Room, Dome Room, Store house, Dependencies, Kitchen, Ice House and so on.  Jefferson inherited 5000 acres of land and 52 slaves by his father's will. In 1768   Jefferson began construction of his Monticello plantation   leveling grounds and clearing forests, in same year he built his own home atop on 867-foot High Mountain. In  1773, Jefferson inherited 11000 acres of land and 135 slaves from his father-in - law.  The House of Monticello is the autobiographical masterpiece of Thomas Jefferson; there are a total of forty-three rooms in the entire structure, thirty-three in the house itself, four in the pavilions and six under the south terrace. Unlike a state, this house belonged almost everything and efficient management did run it having the services of hundreds of slaves. He was against the slave trade to colonies although he could not free them all in his lifetime. In the end of life, poverty engulfed him and his family resulting in loss of the estate to others.
The Nation's Fourth President- James Madison (1809-1817) Birthplace: Montpelier. Died: Jun 28, 1836 in Montpelier Station, VA. Burial: Montpelier. Married: Dolly Payne Todd.  
1)    Father of the Constitution  
2)    Wrote the Bill of Rights
3)    Last living Signer of the Constitution
4)    First President to have an inaugural ball.  
5)    He was Princeton University's first graduate student
6)    James Monoroe and   Robert R Livingston conducted the negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase in Paris.  
Local guides helped us explore the galleries, 8+miles of public walking trails, visit the archaeology lab and libraries. Contents   and life style of the enslaved people found to have been almost same in the presidential homes except the size of the properties possessed.
The Nation's Fifth President- James Monroe (1817 - 1825) Birthplace:  Westmoreland County, VA on April28, 1758. Died: July 4, 1831, New York City, NY. Spouse: Elizabeth Monroe. Children: Maria Hester Monroe, James Spence Monroe, Eliza Monroe.  He was an American Statesman from April 28, 1758 to July 4, 1831.   James Monroe oversaw major westward expansion of the US  and strengthened American foreign policy in 1823 with the Monroe Doctrine, a warning to the European countries against colonization and invention in the Western Hemisphere. He served as a US Senator, Governor of Virginia and Minister to France and Great Britain. In 1803, he helped negotiate The Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of US as President, he acquired Florida, and also dealt with the contentious use of slavery   in new states joining the Union with the 1820 Missouri Compromise.
Unlike some other presidents, he had no much property to be discussed, we just   explored his house and grounds and highland rustic trails.  There are many other points to point out relevant to his life but I would like to close here being unable to accommodate them in one article.
Nevertheless, now we are informed about some key historical events occurred in Virginia that continues to influence America today.  Featured events, programs, and legacy projects inspire local, national and international engagement in the themes of democracy, diversity, and opportunity.
So visiting historical places can help us know how the past world looked like and what it should have been by this time.   It is said with conviction that a visitor cannot exit a historical place without having gained some information and knowledge of the visits for himself and others. Obviously, we should visit historical places, museums to learn for ourselves and those we love to bring improvement in the community and the country at large. We recommend that educational institutions and concerned authorities encourage all, and students in particular, to be at the historical sites to enrich their knowledge, unleashing possible facilities to them. n

(Mohd Siddiqur Rahman,  Rtd Country  Manager of Biman,  Bangladesh Airlines, in Frankfurt, Germany ) 

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