The Iroquois Influence on the United States

Iroquois-Indian-tribe-language

One of the lesser-discussed influences on the founding of the United States we celebrate this weekend is that of the five nations confederacy and their form of government. The 1936 article quoted below sheds light on that influence and this Youtube video goes into more depth about Chief Canasatego. Happy Fourth!

Milwaukee Journal March 26, 1936
Indian Origin of Constitution

Iroquois’ Idea of Government Was Unique, Investigator Says

The germ from which the American Constitution grew may have been planted by an almost unforgotten Iroquois Indian orator.

J.N.B. Hewitt, student of Indian history and customs, after years of research among records of the early Iroquois, announced Thursday that he had found a direct chain of evidence connecting the Constitution with an eloquent plea made by an Iroquois statesman named Canasatego at a conference held at Lancaster, Pa., in 1744. The conference was called to settle differences over land rights and for mutual defense against the French invaders.

Quotes Tribal Sage

The Indian told delegates from the then British colonies of Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland to unite on their own initiative under the principle that government rested on the consent of the governed, not the rulers.

Canasatego quoted from the words of the historic founder of the Iroquois confederacy of five nations, Deganawida, including the eloquent phrase:

“We, the Mohawk, the Seneca, the Onondaga, the Oneida, and the Cayuga people, set up this tree of government.”

Hewitt pointed out the close resemblance to the phraseology with which the federal Constitution begins:

“We, the people of the United States, in order to from a more perfect union…”

Idea Made Impression

He found that records of the Lancaster conference greatly abbreviated Canasatego’s speech, although evidently it made an impression. The idea that he advanced was new to the colonists, trained in the European tradition that the authority of government came from above – that is, the throne. The Iroquois confederation was the only place in the world during the eighteenth century where a different idea was in operation, Hewitt said.

Thirty-one years later, in 1775, representatives of the five nations of the Iroquois and delegates from the continental congress met to sign a treaty which would keep the Indian confederacy neutral in the war with Great Britain.

Hewitt points out that in a formal speech, Col. Turbot Francis, one of the colonial representatives, told the Iroquois that the colonists had remembered the advice of Canasatego and finally had acted upon it.

Do You Remember the Old Whitefish Bay Excursion Boat?

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Local writer and historian Carl Swanson wrote a history of the Whitefish Bay resort on his blog. It brought to mind this article written by Frederic Heath back in 1920 about the excursion boats that serviced the resort from downtown. Heath’s article fills in some of the details of the resort.

Milwaukee Leader, April 13, 1920

By Frederic Heath

Whitefish Bay as a resort for city-baked people seeking the cooling influence of lake, woods and grass in the good old summer time, is now merely a memory. The old steamboat pier is almost washed away, just as the old piers off Huron and other early streets also disappeared.

Afternoon and night crowds flocked to the resort north of the city and from the high terrace viewed old Michigan by day, or hunted pebbles on the beach below, and at night sat at the open air tables, drank their beer, munched their caviar sandwiches, and chatted or watched the lights on steamers and schooners passing to and fro on the black waters out in the lake.

Excursions Years Ago.

It is the criticism of strangers coming to Milwaukee that our people act as though the lake were merely to be tolerated, and they wondered why excursions on the bay and to near-by points are not a part of the city’s enjoyments. This criticism would not have held good years back, for there was a Whitefish Bay boat making regular trips that was well patronized. It was 25 cents a round trip and there was always a comfortable crowd on board when the weather was at all favorable.

The view given today is of the Cyclone, one of the steamers that successively handled the bay excursion business. It had its dock just north of Grand Ave. bridge, alongside the old No. 2 Grand ave., which was for many years the old Pollworth Home restaurant. The river at this point could tell many historical facts, had it the power of speech. For years and years Old Abe Muehlendyke rented rowboats at the lakeshore, off the present Juneau park. But the memory of man goes back a little further to the days when Abe’s boat livery was originally situated on the shore of the river, also near the Grand Ave. (Spring St.) bridge.

Park System Blamed.

It is altogether likely that the passing of Whitefish Bay can be laid to the door of the development of the city park system. Lake park, with its cool shades, its beautiful view of the lake, its accessibility and its band concerts and other attractions, became a powerful competitor to Whitefish Bay before motor vehicles became common, and even afterward they do not appear to have put the bay back into favor, as might have been expected.

Whitefish Bay is getting nearer and nearer to town. A few years ago the county was offered, free of charge, a strip along the lake shore in Whitefish Bay village, just north of the turn on to the county loop (Silver Spring Rd.) for park purposes, but there were enough wise ones in the county board to block its acceptance. It was a narrow strip and the edge of the bluff was close to a Whitefish Bay street, which would have to be protected from landslides at some cost, but even so, a par at that point would have given the people access to the lake. Now the Whitefish Bay resort is gone and the public cannot reach the beach without becoming trespassers. All of which is sincerely to be regretted.

Dawn O’Hara – The Girl Who Laughed

Dawn

I am in the middle of reading this fun book by Edna Ferber, Dawn O’Hara – The Girl Who Laughed. It was Ms. Ferber’s first book written in 1911 when she was working as a newspaper reporter in Milwaukee. Much of the book takes place in the Milwaukee of the time and probably was based on many of her experiences. The title character was also a newspaper reporter and the story follows her as she tries to keep her sanity through her many adventures. It gives a unique but accurate view of the city at the time:

There is a fascination about the bright little city. There is about it
something quaint and foreign, as though a cross-section of the old world
had been dumped bodily into the lap of Wisconsin. It does not seem at
all strange to hear German spoken everywhere–in the streets, in the
shops, in the theaters, in the street cars. One day I chanced upon a
sign hung above the doorway of a little German bakery over on the north
side. There were Hornchen and Kaffeekuchen in the windows, and a brood
of flaxen-haired and sticky children in the back of the shop. I stopped,
open-mouthed, to stare at the worn sign tacked over the door.

“Hier wird Englisch gesprochen,” it announced.

I blinked. Then I read it again. I shut my eyes, and opened them again
suddenly. The fat German letters spoke their message as before–“English
spoken here.”

On reaching the office I told Norberg, the city editor, about my
find. He was not impressed. Norberg never is impressed. He is the most
soul-satisfying and theatrical city editor that I have ever met. He
is fat, and unbelievably nimble, and keen-eyed, and untiring. He says,
“Hell!” when things go wrong; he smokes innumerable cigarettes, inhaling
the fumes and sending out the thin wraith of smoke with little explosive
sounds between tongue and lips; he wears blue shirts, and no collar to
speak of, and his trousers are kept in place only by a miracle and an
inefficient looking leather belt.

When he refused to see the story in the little German bakery sign I
began to argue.

“But man alive, this is America! I think I know a story when I see it.
Suppose you were traveling in Germany, and should come across a sign
over a shop, saying: ‘Hier wird Deutsch gesprochen.’ Wouldn’t you think
you were dreaming?”

Norberg waved an explanatory hand. “This isn’t America. This is
Milwaukee. After you’ve lived here a year or so you’ll understand what
I mean. If we should run a story of that sign, with a two-column cut,
Milwaukee wouldn’t even see the joke.”

It is a fun book by a very talented writer and because it is now in the public domain, can be downloaded for free in many formats on Project Gutenburg including spoken audio files. I highly recommend anyone interested in reading home grown fiction to download this. Ms. Ferber eventually wrote many popular books, some which became famous films in their own rights such as Show Boat, Cimarron, and Giant which starred three immortal film stars; Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean.

Ferber

Lakeside Hospital on Prospect Avenue

Upper Prospect Avenue in the 1890s around Woodstock Place was sparsely settled. It was near the end of the Farwell Avenue car line with the carbarn located where the Oriental Theater now stands at Ivanhoe and Farwell. Because there wasn’t much there it was a good location for hospitals and rest homes. In November 1894, Dr. Horace Manchester Brown opened his new surgical hospital at the northeast corner of Woodstock & Prospect and named it the Manchester Brown hospital. It was a small hospital that looked more like a German hunting lodge than a medical facility but the inside was modern for the time and cost $18,000 to build. What made it unique was the fact that it was the first strictly non-sectarian hospital in the city.

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In 1916, Ford Motor Company bought the property across the street and began plans to build a large automobile plant there. Dr. Brown pushed hard against the proposed plant and filed a lawsuit which he didn’t win but the furor led to stricter zoning laws preventing manufacturing from being built that close to a residential district. Shortly after the factory opened Dr. Brown closed the hospital. In a strange twist of fate the factory was taken by the federal government late in 1918 to be used for a medical hospital during the war. Meanwhile in 1919 the old hospital had been bought by the Country Day School for use as a Junior School until it moved to new facilities in Whitefish Bay in 1932. The building sat vacant until it was torn down in 1934 for the proposed Milwaukee Western Fuel Company offices. That building was a modern art-deco building designed by Milwaukee architect Herbert W. Tullgren.

Country Day School
COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL

Big thanks to Gary Rebholz for providing a picture from his research on Milwaukee’s German Newspapers and the idea for this article!

Public Library Display on 70th Anniversary of End of World War 2

The Central Library has a small display on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. It’s in the 2nd floor hallway near the Humanities Room entrance. It focuses on FDR’s death, his Four Freedoms, includes Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms poster series and their first appearances in The Saturday Evening Post.

Next month’s focus will be on V-E Day & Gertie the Duck. June may be a bric-a-brac on the home front, death camps & Okinawa. July will be on Potsdam and Churchill’s Tories losing the 1945 UK election before wrapping up in August w/the A-Bombs & V-J Day.

Display materials are from the Milwaukee Public Library’s magazine and newspaper collections, Historic Poster Collection, Historic Photo Collection and Historical Sheet Music Collection.

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Green Sheet?

From an interview with Journal Sentinel editor George Stanley:

Hi everyone. I’m curious to know how many other readers would like us to find a way to bring back The Green Sheet for old time’s sake, if we could manage it?

Duane Dudek also blogged about the possibility of its return.

If you would like to see it come back, let him know by emailing him here: jsedit@journalsentinel.com If there are enough supportive emails the Green Sheet could have a green light!

Thanks to Dan Lee for the heads up!

Old Homes

sample-House1

From an early 20th century German Newspaper. This ad shows a newly built duplex at 1252 25th Street which now has an address of 3052 N. 25th Street. The house is still there but has gone through many changes over the years. The current value of the house isn’t too much more than the price back then.

Pride In Place

The Milwaukee County Historical Society will present a new exhibit with an opening presentation on the evening of Thursday, February 12. Don’t miss this event!

Join us for the Opening of our Newest Exhibitions

Thursday, February 12
Milwaukee County Historical Center
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Presentation at 7:00pm
Wine and light hors d’oeuvres provided

RSVP by Monday, February 9th to info@milwaukeehistory.net or 414-273-8288

February 5th through April 10th

By taking pride in place, Milwaukeeans can learn to appreciate the city and its built landscape. Though much has been lost over the decades, an impressive array of buildings and houses remain. From a perspective of pride we can look at how Milwaukee emerged, how it has been maintained and/or reworked over the decades, issues of preservation, current land usage, and new uses and initiatives going forward. Through a combination of artifacts, photos, text, and interactive elements, we can explore important issues regarding Milwaukee’s architecture and built environment and how people in and outside of Milwaukee view and approach the city.

Don’t miss this major exhibition that will allow you to simultaneously revel in Milwaukee’s impressive architectural past, relish that which still remains, and explore where it may be going.

Pabst Farms: The History of a Model Farm – Book Event

Join senior historian of the Pabst Mansion, John Eastberg in a presentation of his new book, “Pabst Farms: The History of a Model Farm” at Boswell Books on Tuesday, December 30th. The event will start at 7:00pm at 2559 N. Downer Avenue. Mark it on your calendar!

From the UW-Press webpage:

Pabst_Farms

Pabst Farms
The History of a Model Farm
John C. Eastberg
Foreword by James C. Pabst

The great brewery family’s innovative farm

Although the Pabst name is world-famous for its ties to the brewing industry, Fred Pabst Jr. balanced his duty to the family brewery with his love of land and livestock. In 1906, he began purchasing large parcels of land near Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, to create one of the most important model farms in the United States. Employing the latest advances in American and European agricultural theory, he organized a sustainable farming operation that provided all that was necessary for his selfsufficient farm.

From the construction of new farm buildings to the selection of diverse livestock, Pabst carefully considered every detail of his landmark farming operation. Hackney and Percheron horses were the mainstay of Pabst Farms until the popularity of the automobile quickly made horse breeding for carriages and wagons a thing of the past. Undaunted, Pabst transformed his 1,400-acre farm operation to focus solely on the development and breeding of award-winning, high-production Holstein dairy cattle. This is the story of how one family made their mark on Wisconsin’s dairy industry, but also of the Pabst family’s life on the farm and their efforts to bring the Pabst Brewing Company through the dark days of Prohibition with the development of a revolutionary cheese product, Pabst-ett. Pabst Farms: The History of a Model Farm showcases Wisconsin’s dairy history at its best and is illustrated with hundreds of photographs from the Pabst family’s private archives.

Milwaukee’s Supermodel

Most may have heard about Martin Tullgren and his sons, the family of early 20th century architects who made an impact on the landscape of the city. They are well know for a variety of incredibly decorative masterpieces such as the Watts Building at the northwest corner of Mason & Jefferson and the Bertelson Building on Prospect & Windsor Place. The two sons who took over the business when their father Martin died in 1922 were Herbert and Minard. Minard died scant years later in 1928 at the age of 41 of a heart attack leaving behind a wife and two young sons and two much younger daughters.

His oldest daughter, Barbara was only four at his death but grew up to be a beautiful young woman of 17 in 1941. She entered and won a statewide beauty contest for the American Legion where she won in a pool of 50 contestants. She became the queen and official hostess when the American Legion had their national convention here in September of that year. After graduating from Shorewood High School she studied for a time at Layton School of Art in fashion design before her big break came.

In March 1943, her mother persuaded her to enter a contest at the Riverside theater to select an entrant most closely resembling a Powers model, the largest model agency in the country located in New York. Of course she easily won against 69 other contestants and won a trip to New York to meet with John Powers. She set out for the big apple with her aunt as chaperone but once there she at once was brought to the headquarters of the agency where she met John Powers. When he set eyes on her he exclaimed, “My God, where did you come from? So you want to stay in New York?”, and her career was launched. Within a week she was modeling for Vogue and meeting celebrities and Hollywood stars. Her rise was so quick it was like a fairy tale.

Tullgren