A Student of History

March 14, 2007

Jamestown, Québec, & Santa Fe

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 8:04 am

Heritage Map Museum

 Jamestown, Québec, & Santa Fe…sounds like the name of a 19th century railroad, doesn’t it?  It is actually the name of a new exhibit in Richmond at the VHS. 

This is a press release from the Virginia Historical Society, so I quote it at length. 

1607 marked the beginning of a turning point in world history. It was a collision of empires, cultures, and ideas. The first permanent English settlement was established at Jamestown, but that was just the beginning. In the following years, the French would establish Québec (1608), and the Spanish would push north from Mexico to establish Santa Fe (1609). The “New World” offered the hope of opportunity to Europeans, but Native Americans and, soon, Africans would pay the price. A new exhibition at the Virginia Historical Society (VHS), co-organized with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, tells the story of dramatic twists of fate, strategic alliances, and violent conflict between the three mighty European empires and the Native people living in North America. It is a story that changed the face of the world as we know it today.

Jamestown, Québec, Santa Fe: Three North American Beginnings will be on display March 17 through September 3, 2007. The exhibition will be presented in three languages and with multiple perspectives. “This exhibition is going to give the audience a broader perspective,” said Dr. James C. Kelly, director of museums at the VHS. “People tend to think of Jamestown as an isolated incident, but in many ways, Jamestown is a small part of a much larger story. The colonization of North America was not just a westward movement from a single starting point. The stage had been set for quite a few years before Jamestown. Many Native people had prior contact with Europeans and trade had already been established in several of areas. It was the permanence and eventual expansion of the colonies that intensified all the forces that had been set in motion by initial contact.”

Jamestown, Québec, Santa Fe: Three North American Beginnings utilizes rare surviving Native and European artifacts, maps, documents, and ceremonial objects from museums and royal collections on both sides of the Atlantic. The result is a path-breaking exhibition. A 1622 broadside advises English settlers on what to pack for their journey to the Virginia. A wampum belt from the French royal collection illustrates how gift-giving became an important tactic as the French sought alliances with the Huron people. Spanish armor engraved with Christian symbols exemplifies the religious dimension of the Spanish conquest of New Mexico.

More information is here.

On a related note, the VHS Banner lecture series will continue later this month, with a talk by William Marvel, entitled “Mr. Lincoln Goes to War,” on March 28th (at noon.)

In a provocative new book, Mr. Lincoln Goes to War, historian William Marvel disputes conventional wisdom about the outbreak of the Civil War. He ascribes a good measure of blame to Abraham Lincoln as well as Jefferson Davis for pushing the secession crisis into open military conflict. He takes the president to task for an unimaginative approach to solving the impasse and also for infringing on the constitutional rights of civilians in the North once the fighting began. An independent scholar, William Marvel is the prolific author of books on the Civil War, including Andersonville: The Last Depot and Lee’s Last Retreat.

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