Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The death of Thomas Paine 1737-1809. The most remarkable odyssey of this famous writer and his body

Thomas Paine died 200 years ago this year on Grove Street in New York City. He was a famous author, speaker, revolutionary. He made a lot of friends and enemies on his journey of life. His writing of Common Sense made such an impact on the 13 colonies during the early days of the American revolution.
His was a life of great of ups and downs. His life was one of great unrest where ever he seemed to be.
His thoughts on religion brought great attacks on him. Even Theodore Roosevelt called Paine "a dirty little atheist". Perhaps no one put it better than Thomas Edison, who wrote of Roosevelt's remark saying.."This shows that Roosevelt never read Paine"

Well in his day if you were for him or against him, and there were many in both camps he was loved and hated. He was the butt of comments by many. It was said that many of the great leaders of the early days of America avoided him.

He was critical of George Washington, and by doing so was very well regarded by Thomas Jefferson who had little liking for Washington, specially Washington's political philosophy.

By the time of his death in 1809 he was pretty much left out of the thoughts and good wishes of his contemporaries. Only six people attended his funeral. A death mask was hastily made causing the nose to look crooked. He was then buried in New Rochell, New York and forgotten.

But even in death Paine would have no rest.

A great fan and devoted follower of Paine, William Cobbett of England, came to the United States and exhumed and stole Paine's partially decomposed body from its grave. His idea was to bring Paine's body to England to make a grand memorial to him.
In 1819 he returned to England with the body of his hero in a large box. But he found that England was not at all pleased with honoring the man who helped bring about the American Revolution. Therefore the body remained with Cobbett, who seemed to have no idea what to do with it. Therefore he put the body of the dead revolutionary in his attic. He seemed to be rather obsessed with the body of Paine. He even made another death mask of the badly decomposed body .

In fact the bones were still in Cobbett's attic when he himself died in 1835.

Here the story comes to a rather bizarre and macabre ending. Cobbett's son who had no desire to keep the bones of Paine in the attic, decided to get rid of them. But no one is quite sure how? There have been comments that many people claim to have bits and pieces of Paine. Some say he sold parts and even auctioned off parts of the great mans skeleton. In the 19th century one man claimed to have the skull and right hand of Paine. His femur bone was made into buttons. In New York parts of his spinal cord and hair are said to reside. Once again who knows? I guess it would take DNA testing. Till that time the body of Paine is lost in a sea of confusion. In many ways like his life.Thomas Paine 1737-1809

The book that started it all for Paine and the death mask of a then forgotten man.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A new Constitution for New York...From the Review of Reviews magazine ..March 1894

The title tells it all as New York prepared to have a Constitutional Convention, to restyle and improve it's present Constitution. Here is the story from an interview with a delegate to this convention. Presented by Review of Reviews of NYC in March of 1894.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

My great great great uncle. Richard Kasidick ..Who had a great career as an artist.

Richard Kasadick
A high resolution copy of a photo of his studio and a painting.
The only painting I know to be done by him in January 1898.
This is the only photo I have of my great great great uncle. He was an artist,and was in the first graduating class of Cooper Union. He was famous for a number of paintings. I have always wanted to find one of them. I am sure they exist somewhere.
The painting he is doing here was presented to the Lutheran Church on Wayne Street in Jersey City, New Jersey. I have to go look and see if that church is still there.

His studio was in Jersey City. The photograph here was taken in January 1898 at his studio. He proudly poses with the painting that would be at that church and may for as much as I know, still be there.

I found the graves of the Kasidicks at Bay shore Cemetery. Sadly the grave site which is quite large, has no names marked on it. All the cemetery records were destroyed in the 1960's during the riots in Jersey City, when all the nuts burned and destroyed everything in their stupid path. Sadly, they also destroyed history.
I will never know much more about my family and the artists who once were a part of it. I can only say that Richard Kasidick's (May be Kasidict's) son was an artist also. He did a number of art pieces for Coke a Cola in the early days of the 20th century. I wonder when I see art from Coke, if perhaps my great great uncle may have done it. I will never know, it was all anonymous.

But I thought I would honor my great great great uncle, Richard ..Who I never knew, but will always know.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The George Washington Centennial in New York City in the Magazine of American History.July 1889, and a momento token of that event.

Here is a token from the event you will read about in this article. These were sold during the event and usually had a ribbon tied into the small hole in the token. On the front it mentions the anniversary of Washington assuming the office as the first President.
On the reverse is the Brooklyn Bridge which was said to be the 8th wonder of the world.

Here is a wonderful and large story in the Magazine of American History of the 100th anniversary of the start of George Washington's term as President. He took the oath of office in New York City on April 30, 1789.
100 years later President Benj. Harrison came to honor that very important event, where it happened.

This magazine of course was made on rather acidic paper, which was in pieces. I have tried to put it together as well as I could. However, there are places where I just could not. But in this way I can preserve it well as I can. Enjoy this large and very detailed article.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Civil War Thanksgiving...November 24, 1864. As drawn by Thomas Nast

This is the original Thanksgiving cartoon by Thomas Nast. For November 24, 1864

Thanksgiving became a official federal holiday in 1863. It had existed of course for many years. But during the American Civil War it became a true legal holiday. In 1864 there was a lot of cartoons about the holiday, perhaps none as unique as this one by Thomas Nast.

The holiday was declared by Abraham Lincoln as mentioned in 1863, but by 1864 there was much more going on for the holiday. Also the holiday was centered around the war.

In the various pictures in this cartoon there were some of the evil confederates, the peace keepers, the sailors, and thanks to Maryland, for freeing her slaves. (Not that they wanted too!)

In the blow up of the main picture you see Lincoln and his generals standing on a rebel flag. This was a Thanksgiving like none ever, as it was the last one of the Civil War period.

Lincoln would die the following April, and the holiday would take on a more thankful, rather than militaristic stance after his administration.
But as in the beginnings of all holidays, it had to get it's roots, and style.