Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Battle of Princeton

On January 3, 1777, George Washington outfoxed the British. A week before, his army had won one of the most remarkable victories of the Revolution. They had surprised and beaten Hessian mercenaries (German troops hired by the British) at Trenton, New Jersey. But British General Lord Cornwallis had marched on Trenton with about 8,000 redcoats, who were now positioned to attack Washington’s 2500 troops.

Instead of fighting Cornwallis, Washington decided to make a surprise attack on another British force. After midnight, the Americans slipped quietly away from their camp. They left their campfires burning so the British would think they were still there. Marsching sliently south and east around Cornwallis’ army the Americans headed utoward Princeton, 10 miles away. At daybreak, they attacked and defeated two British regiments.

The victories at Trenton and Princeton raised the morale of patriots throuout the country. And they caused the British to evacuate western New Jersey, leaving the Americans with an open supply route between Philadelphia and New York. Washington’s army moved into winter headquarters at Morristown, New Jersey, with renewed pride and confidence.

Washington almost lost many of his men just before the Battle of Princeton because their enlistment terms expired January 1,. The general’s personal appeals convinced tmost of them to stay on.

New Orleans

New Orleans is one of the most picturesque and interesting cities in the US In the section known as the French Quarter, or the Vieux Carre (old square), the pastel-colored houses with their courtyards and wrought-iron balconies seem more Latin American than North American. In another section, the Garden District, large handsome houses with broad verandas and white columns recall the era before the Civil War. Even the city’s cemeteries are different: Because much of the city is below sea level, the earth is too wet for burials, so the tombs all lie above ground. Famous for its fine restaurants, New Orleans is also the birthplace of jazz and the site each year of the famous Mardi Gras, the carnival that precedes Lent.

New Orleans is the southernmost Mississippi port, not far from the Gulf of Mexico. There cargoes are exchanged between seagoing vessels and the steamboats and barges of the Mississippi river system. Today the port of New Orleans handles more freight than any other US port.

New Orleans was established in 1718 by the French. In the 1760s it fell under Spanish control. Returned to France in 1800, the city was acquired by the US in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

New Orleans was the original “Dixie Land,” so named for a ten-dollar bill with a large DIX (French for ten) printed on it that circulated in the city before the Civil War.

Peter Minuit Buys Manhattan

In the summer of 1826, Peter Minuit made one of the best deals in real estate history. He bought an island at the mouth of the Hudson River from Native American leaders for cloth, beads and other goods that would be worth about $24 today. The Native Americans called the island “Manhatta” – heavenly land. Today we know it as Manhattan, the heart of one of the world’s greatest cities, New York.
Minuit had been sent by the Dutch West India Company to take charge of the scattered Dutch settlements in present-day New Jersey and New York. Minuit decided to move most of the settlers to the southern tip of Manhattan. After buying the island, he built a crude fort and about 30 houses there. Minuit returned to Europe after five years, but the settlement continued to grow. Known as New Amsterdam, it became a busy port and the center of a thriving colony. It was renamed New York by the British, who seized it in 1664.

As for Peter Minuit, he returned to the New World in 1638, in the service of Sweden, and made another smart purchase. He bought land along the Delaware River from Native Americans. Today that land is the site of Wilmington, Delaware.

Peter Minuit was killed in a hurricane in 1638, while on a trading expedition to the West Indies.