Started off with a lecture by a very (seemingly) caffeinated professor. He was interesting to watch – and listen to, of course – he seemed to be, at times, playing tennis on both sides of the white board. He would run from one side to the other, writing one thing, reflecting on it, go to the other side, write something, get some input from his audience, write some more, go to the other side, etc. It was definitely entertaining. And thought-provoking. As we view national monuments, do we view them as “temples” (something that we ‘worship’) or as an actual historic monument… It was a most appropriate way to start off our busiest day of the tour.
Christ Church on 2nd Street, north of Market, was our first stop. Christ Church is the burial ground for five signers of the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin is buried there! Mr. Franklin is one major Tuesday star, so I won’t go too ga-ga here. And believe me, I am definitely ga-ga for Franklin. In addition to being the burial ground for some of our Founding Fathers, as well as revolutionary war heroes, early medical pioneers, and more; Christ Church was also considered the early “nation’s church”. George Washington attended services regularly, Betsy Ross had a pew, and Dr. Benjamin Rush was a parishioner. It was founded in 1695. In those days, men (only men) rented pews. The more important you were, the better the pew you got. Franklin, who was not a religious man, did also have an interest in the Christ Church – its steeple. He raised funds to raise the steeple so that he might be able to use it for his electricity experiments. The steeple was not finished in time for this, but when it was finished, it made Christ Church the tallest building in the world, and it remained that way for over 100 years. (Franklin had his hands in so much!).
Our tour guide then took us to Elfreth’s Alley where some of the oldest buildings in our country are located. We learned how to tell how old a home is: by the size of the windows and the number of stairs. We learned why rich people are sometimes referred to as the “upper crust” of society: because back in the 18th century, most people did not own their own ovens, so you took your dough to a community oven. You paid to have it baked. If you were poor, you had your bread baked on the bottom of this community oven; your bread was sometimes burned, sometimes not fully risen. If you had the money to pay, your dough was placed on the top shelf, producing a perfect loaf of bread with a perfect crust. Thus the term, “upper crust.”
We then visited Betsy Ross’s house. Did you know that Betsy Ross was considered an 18th century interior decorator? She not only sewed our first flag, she also made bedding, curtains and other things for the home. When the war began, people could no longer afford her interior decorating services, so she had to find another way to make money. She was a devoted patriot, and so she started making ammunition for the rebel troops!
After Betsy’s house, we went to view the Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell was made in England! The very country we were trying to gain freedom from… Christ Church actually has bells from the same company, but instead of trying to fix theirs when it broke (and it did), they sent it back to England and got them to replace it! The reason the Liberty Bell is so cracked is because they tried to fix it!
Do you know the difference between independence and freedom? Apparently the black troops during the Revolutionary War did. England offered them freedom if they won the war; the Patriots wanted independence from England. 5,000 black men were Patriots, whereas 30,000 served on the British side. And we know the story from there; blacks didn’t gain their freedom for a long time after that. But that is a story I will tell for tomorrow… Tuesday we went to the African American Museum (the first one of its kind in the nation!)
Monday isn't over yet (YES, I know it is, I'm just not done writing about it), but I want to get this posted (for my loyal six). I’ll try to attach images …