"5.3 miles" tallied the Fit Bit on the mom next to me. Pretty great to get a history lesson and a brisk walk in on one short sunny (but humid) afternoon.
The rigidly scheduled fieldtrip from Baltimore County to historic Philadelphia with forty-four fifth graders had much of our group sweating, sunburned, and panting like hairy dogs in need of a summer shave by lunchtime. Had it not been for the notable tidbits provided by Sebastian, our leggy svelte guide, half our party would have defected to a shaded patch of grass.
Sebastian offered potted narratives for each and every detail on his costume. "Gentlemen with better wigs wore their hats cocked to the side so that more of the wig showed" or, "My pants are baggy in the back so that my bottoms don’t split while riding horseback". Then of course was his inky felted hat "small enough to be held comfortably under the arm and folded on three corners to keep water channeled away from clothing in a downpour…" It seems that our forefathers were well studied in the art of fashionable utility.
Benjamin Franklin is still quite easily the city’s most celebrated son. Dr. Franklin is best known for his writings, politicking, cardinal scientific developments and mathematical designs (then of course, his reputation for being a notorious flirt after Deborah, his wife, died). But until yesterday, I did not know that his fingerprints touched on numerable aspects of civic and societal welfare progression as well.
Franklin organized the first library in America, a co-op designed to pool resources of commoners in order to afford expensive books from England. Some American underclass would-be scholars gained access to written words (other than the Bible) for the very first time because of Franklin’s tireless devotion to knowledge.
And after seeing how problematic fires had become in Philadelphia, Franklin formed the very first fire department in 1736 called the Union Fire Company, then later conceptualized and executed the first form of fire insurance. Ironic, as his former family home fell victim to a fire and is now replaced with a metal sculpture on the home’s original footprint (photo below).
Franklin rose from a talented printmaker’s apprentice to a head-of-state, crediting frugality coupled with industriousness as a means for establishing wealth. A formula that is still stands as Americans more than any other nation create their own wealth vs. generational endowments.
Our revolutionary style of people as government incites curiosity from abroad as it always has. Following closely behind us were families of Germans and Italians finding the genesis of our nation interesting enough to investigate while on holiday. Our term limits and peaceful transfers of power still warrant attention because up until the day that Washington supportively passed the torch to John Adams, voluntary shifts of power between two unrelated individuals without strife or violence had simply been an abstract idea.
But violence did not escape our lead patriots entirely because the majority of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence and their families paid dearly for their "treason" to King George III.
America was born in the small, sparsely decorated marine gray room above on July 4, 1776, as the Declaration of Independence was ratified with signatures of delegates from the thirteen original colonies. The renegade document was read aloud for the first time in public four days later by Col. John Nixon in Independence Square.
There was plenty to see yesterday. I took photos (with my post-prime cell) to document interesting things I saw and the significance of each…sights besides the given Liberty Bell and Franklin’s grave. Here are just a few:
Our flag’s head designer/needleworker lived here…
The First Continental Congress was held here at Carpender’s Hall
Essentially, the first "Pentagon"…This small building was where the U.S. Military was first headquartered.
Making copies of the Declaration of Independence in the print shop at Independence Hall on original equipment.
Dr. Franklin’s hand built electric machine at the museum.
Dr. Franklin’s favorite known pen names….it seems that he and my five-year-old son have sense of humor in common.
The first bank of America.
Franklin’s own personal wine log…in French, of course. Yet another reason to like him…he preferred red.
Christ Church was also a pivotal player in the American Revolution but there are plenty of photos online that look a heck of a lot better than the ones I took.
Oh, and I did buy a cheesesteak. +2# this morning. Dang. Worst part? It was at a food court and totally not worth it. If anyone has a suggestion for my next trip (without forty-four sweaty tweens), I’d like an authentic cheesesteak. Please?
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