The Quest for Knowledge: Lewis in Philadelphia

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Philadelphia in 2003: the time, place, plans, schedules, photos, memories, and highlights of the Annual Meeting
 
The Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation's 35th Annual Meeting in 2003

Some Memories Big and Small, for National Fans as They “Proceed On!” by Norma M. Milner

As 380 Lewis and Clark fans from 35 states across the country left their annual meeting at the Loews in Philadelphia, I heard many say, “It was wonderful, we’ll be back!” That made it worth the effort and our host committee is glad you felt that way!
When we thanked the workers at the concierge desk, they unanimously gave our group kudos. “We’d love to have you back. Such a nice group,” “No trouble at all,” “So interesting and mannerly,” were the comments with smiles.

Our count tells us that there were 42 folks from Pennsylvania, 33 from Washington, 21 each from Virginia and California, from 17 to 19 each from Nebraska, Montana, and Missouri, 8 to 12 each from Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon, Massachusetts, Texas, South Dakota, Illinois, New Jersey, 5 to 7 each from Ohio, Florida, New York, Georgia, Arizona, North Dakota, Minnesota, Kentucky; 2 to 4 each from West Virginia , Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Idaho, Wisconsin, and one each from Vermont, District of Columbia, Utah, Nevada and Louisiana-- and two from the State of Maine! An amazing range of participants, with non-trail states outnumbering present trail states. Thanks for coming so far and making the meeting such a successful one…the first Annual Meeting in the four Bicentennial Years.

An Offer Well Taken at City Tavern
In the beginning, 160 of you had registered for the full meeting and four days at the Hotel before July 1, earning the right to reserve tickets for that fabulous dinner at City Tavern, an exact replica of the favorite tavern of the Continental Congress. We were entertained by roving singers of tavern songs of the era and hammered dulcimer music. Chef Walter Staib insists that the excellent salmon and prime rib dinners were typical Colonial favorites. A delectable berry cobbler topped off the evening.

At our recent Evaluation Meeting of the Steering Committee, we talked about what we thought you enjoyed the most, and what we learned and what we might do differently next time. A Saturday night event won our approval hands down for the best “hook” we could have devised to inspire registrations early.

Most Awe-inspiring Were Journals and Herbarium
Unquestionably, we thought the most exciting moments for most of you, and for us, were those when Rob Cox and Roy Goodman (a board member of the Philadelphia Chapter), both curators of documents at the American Philosophical Society, were showing off selected copies of the Lewis and Clark Journals to small groups around a table. They held two volumes before us making it possible to compare the writings, spellings, and text of the two authors, Clark and Lewis. An unbelievable opportunity.

Just as inspiring to many, we could see, were the seldom-seem specimens from the Lewis and Clark Herbarium which were displayed at the Academy of Natural Sciences at the Tuesday night reception. Munching veggies, fruit, and delicious sandwiches among the dinosaur bones was a perfect prelude to seeing the plants and notations in Lewis’s small precise hand and then gazing at actual mineral specimens picked up by the explorers and returned to Jefferson, never before displayed. (The exhibit The Literature of the Lewis and Clark Expedition plus other specimens remain on display until September 14, 2003.)

We then filed into the auditorium past a moving display of our daily newspaper’s photo coverage here and out West by photographer/writer Tom Gralish. His six-day series published in May may still be seen on this web site by linking to it on the home page.

Two Philadelphia Institutions Named Sites on the Lewis and Clark Trail
As it’s a little hard to arrange a convocation of 380 folk while they’re jiggling around the city in various trolleys, we want to make sure you remember three special happenings that took place on Tuesday, August 12.

At noon that day Dick Williams, National Park Service Trail Manager, named the American Philosophical Society (APS) as a “certified site on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.” It all happened at Philosophical Hall just in time to be interrupted by a power outage at 5th and Chestnut Streets. In the dark, Williams presented a plaque bearing the Lewis and Clark logo and a certificate to Drs. Mary and Richard Dunn, CEOs of the venerable institution, because Thomas Jefferson, also president of APS at the time, chose to send Meriwether Lewis to five of its scientists to hone his skills for the journey, and because of the role it has played in archiving the Lewis and Clark Journals and other documents related to the Expedition.

APS was preceded in receiving this designation by two sites, Monticello, named a site on the Trail on Jan. 16, 2002, and Harpers Ferry where Lewis ordered his rifles, iron frame boat, cutlery and fishing gear. The military arsenal museum was named a site on March 28, 2003, in a special ceremony at the opening of a new exhibit of the artifacts Lewis ordered there.

We are sorry that the electrical problem kept some of you from enjoying the wonderful exhibit at Philosophical Hall, Stuffing Birds, Pressing Plants, and Shaping Knowledge: Natural History in North America, 1730-1860. That particular exhibit will be at Philosophical Hall until Dec. 31, 2004, and it is free.

Names of Plants, and Quip of the Meeting
Dr. Alfred (Ernie) Schuyler, curator emeritus of the Lewis and Clark Herbarium, and a board member of the Philadelphia Chapter, introduced us with slides to six men and six plants which bear their names, given to Lewis and Clark plants by botanists as they studied the collection. William Maclure, B.S. Barton (although his was renamed after his death because only one plant may be named per person), William Clark, Meriwether Lewis, Frederick Pursh, and Bernard McMahon.

Next we heard what we agreed could be called “the Quip of the Meeting” by President Bob Weir, who as he introduced Gary Moulton said “When I asked Gary what I could say about him, he replied ‘Nothing flowery.' And now that I’m up here, I can’t think of a bloomin’ thng to say!” Gary, editor of the 13 volume latest edition of the Lewis and Clark Journals, and an expert on the travels and travails of the fabled plant collection, (11 of which still remain at Kew Garden, he pointed out,) gave a clear picture of their complicated journey on their way to the safe home they now have at the Academy. From November, 2004, through March 2005, ANS will host the national traveling exhibition from the Missouri Historical Society: Lewis and Clark, the National Bicentennial Exhibition.

Three Demonstrations Bring Lewis to Life in Philadelphia
As an afternoon lead in to Bob Peck’s stage setting talk, demonstrations of what Lewis learned and did for fun in the City were put on display by our own Corps of Volunteers.

Chapter volunteers offered three demonstrations taken directly from the new experiences Lewis got here in 1803 when Jefferson sent him on his Quest for Knowledge, which became your own! (Jefferson was also president of the American Philosophical Society at the time.)

Volunteers from the Philadelphia Botanical Club, Bartram’s Historic Garden, the Pasquotank County Agricultural Extension Service, in Elizabeth City, N.C., and the Academy of Natural Sciences Botany Department in Philadelphia showed how Lewis labeled and pressed plants on the trail, a skill he learned from Benjamin Smith Barton, a University of Pennsylvania botany professor. On Tuesday night, faces of our members as they poured over those original specimens were intently absorbed . How did you feel? Please send us your comments.

Secondly, silhouettes were offered to remind us that art was even more important then it is now and Lewis made use of it. He had his own silhouette made here. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s photographer Tom Gralish thought that the silhouette of J. Paul Petersen of Spokanewas captivating because it looked “just like a silhouette of George Washington. The photo appeared in the paper on Monday, August 11.and we have provided the owner of that historic profile a copy. One of the profilers confided that she had executed a “double chin removal” at the request of another subject!

And for the third demo, Derrick Pitts, well-known astronomer at our Fells Planetarium at the Franklin Institute Science Museum, drew enthusiastic crowds both afternoons as he explained how the sextant was used to determine celestial readings for calculating longitude and longitude. We appreciate his professionalism and sense of humor which he regularly demonstrates here in the City.

Sunday evening-- Music and Dance
Harpsichordist Eugene Roan and recorder specialist John Burkhalter played favorite music of Thomas Jefferson with historical commentary. Germantown Colonial Dancers, in costumes of the time, then performed dances that Lewis would have watched or danced at social functions in the city-- the Minuet, the Cotillion, English country dances, and a variation of the Virginia Reel. While the lateness of the evening took its toll, many fans stayed and danced with the performers until almost midnight.

The next morning as we gathered for the formal opening and the Presentation of the Colors by the First Troop, Philadelphia City Cavalry, President Bob Weir confessed that he had been one of those late night dancers and enjoyed the unusual opportunity!

Frank Muhly
Frank is a long time member of the Board of Directors of the LCTHF and has served on the National Council of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. In fact Frank received two outstanding awards from the Foundation for his extended service and his influencial work toward including the 1803 period of “readiness”on the Bicentennial calendar. He won the 2003 meeting spot and created a Grand Design for the year including plans to unearth the location of many artifacts that are held by institutions in this city. We must confess, we found many more than we could present to you on your visit. We also found that many single items were being borrowed to travel with the Missouri Historic Society’s exhibition which will be here at the Academy of Natural Sciences from November 2004 through March, 2005. Let us invite you now to return to this historic city and bring those three brochures designed by Frank Muhly and funded by the National Park Service so you can browse what you have missed and see the new Liberty Bell Pavilion which will be opening on October 9, 2003.

Frank researched and designed a brochure called “The Eastern Legacy of Lewis and Clark” funded by the National Park Service. On April 28, 2002, Michael Vitez, Inquirer People columnist, went on one of Frank’s walks “in Lewis’s footprints” and wrote “Working to put Philadelphia on the Lewis and Clark Map.”

Now 83, Muhly saw his dream come true as 350 members began arriving at the Loews Hotel on Saturday, August 9, to study another map he made of sites where Lewis studied necessary skills with learned scientists at the American Philosophical Society, and bought his supplies for the Journey. Muhly co-chaired the meeting with Nancy M. Davis of South Philadelphia.
And in January of 2003 at Monticello, the LCTHF and its partners kicked off the Bicentennial Commemoration a year before the traditional date of 2004. The “Year of Preparedness” that Lewis spent in a whirlwind of activity in the East had finally gotten attention.

Challenges Ahead
The business meeting left us each with some challenges, and some good news. Larry Epstein asked us to continue his effort to make us self sustaining by increasing capital giving. Barbara Kubik brought the good news that there will be more Foundation grant money available next year for those projects that many of you are working on.

Past President Jane Henley of Virginia encouraged us to contact our legislators and urge them to co-sponsor HB 2327 now in our House of Representatives. That bill would extend the National Lewis and Clark Trail by including nine states east of the Mississippi and the District of Columbia to the 11 states now on the official Trail established in 1978. (See names of Congressmen and women who have joined on from Pennsylvania, Virginina, complete details on how to do this in separate story). Co-sponsors are needed and join the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Caucus.

The Academy of Natuaral Science Certified as Trail Site
Again at 6 pm after the unveiling of a historic marker to Meriwether Lewis in front of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Williams presented the same honor to CEO Jim Baker at the Academy because it maintains and archives the Herbarium of plnats collected by the explorer.

There’s a Bill in Congress!
As a “legacy project of the four year Lewis and Clark Bicentennial”, the national Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation (LCTHF), urged on by the Philadelphia Chapter and other eastern chapters, is calling upon members of Congress to extend the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail! (There are 40 chapters of LTCHF in the nation. A chapter may cover several states, or only part of a state.)

The proposal, HB 2327, will include the District of Columbia and nine states east of the Mississippi. The Trail was established in 1978 as part of the National Trail System of the National Park Service. The present 11 “ Trail” states are Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. When approved, the bill would increase the number of states with a relationship to the epic trek to 20, adding the District plus Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana.

Advocates of the extension from the proposed states say the spin-off of added tourism to the regions, newly available resources in historical research, and a fresh educational focus on the Expedition which could enhance the Lewis and Clark curriculum for school students in the East are all possible results. “We want a piece of the pie for our regions and for our schools,” says Philadelphia Chapter President Robert Weir of Fleetville near Scranton. Bill # HB 2327 was introduced on June 3, 2003 by Virgil Goode, R-VA.5th District which includes Charlottesville, VA where the Bicentennial Commemoration was kicked off in January, 2003. On June 11, Pennsylvania Congresswoman Melissa Hart of District 4 signed on as a co-sponsor. In addition, a second member of Congress, Baron P. Hill (ID-District 9) has subsequently signed on as a co-sponsor.

The Philadelphia Chapter is urging Congressman Joe Hoeffel, who is a member of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Caucus in Washington, to become a co-sponsor as well. The Chapter has also asked Senator Arlen Specter to join the Caucus and take action. For details on the role of Pennsylvania and Ohio, contact facilitators Frank Muhly of Philadelphia at fmuhly@juno.com or Thom Jones, working in western Pennsylvania at tjones@on-target.net or James Mallory, president of the Ohio River Chapter, at JMJlmallory@cs.com.

Virginia resident Jane Henley, immediate past president of LCTHF, has noted “The current board of directors, at the urging of Frank Muhly (of Philadelphia) voted in April 2003 to make extension of the Trail a major priority as a legacy project for the Bicentennial.” Muhly (above) has stated, “Benefits would be limitless.”

As the gavel bangs….
160 members dined at the City Tavern on Saturday evening on prime rib or salmon, which Chef Walter Staib says were both typical of Colonial fare.

Sunday was full of arrivals who had their silhouettes made as Lewis did. Botanists from the ANS demonstrated how Lewis collected and pressed the plants that visitors were to see a few days later in the Herbarium at ANS later on. Derrickk Pitts of the Fels Planetarium showed how the sextant and other instruments were used by Lewis to take hundreds of celestial readings.

On Sunday evening event at 7 pm. Robert McCracken Peck, a research scientist, gave an illustrated talk on “Jefferson’s Philadelphia: Setting the Stage for Lewis and Clark,” followed by the Germantown Colonial Dancers and selections from Jefferson’s music library on harpsichord and recorder by John Burkhalter and Eugene Roan.

Philadelphia Chapter President Robert Weir of Scranton, PA, opened the formal meeting on Monday morning at 8:30 am in the Regency room of the Hotel. A silent Quaker invocation preceded The First Troop, Philadelphia City Cavalry, who presented the colors.

After the closing banquet on Wednesday music lovers heard the winning Chamber Orchestra concerto depicting Lewis in Philadelphia by 24 -year -old Taiwanese student Chun-Hao Derrick Chang who has been studying in Paris. The 15-minute concerto was the world premiere by the Philadelphia Sinphonia youth orchestra, conducted by Gary White, director of instrumental music at Germantown Friends School, and Chang flew to this country to hear the concert and accept his prize.

Author Dayton Duncan, popular with Lewis and Clark audiences because he wrote the script for Ken Burns’s TV series on the exploration, closed the meeting by comparing himself with Meriwether Lewis in a talk on “A Country Boy in a Big City.”
Outgoing President of LCTHF, Larry Epstein of Cut Bank, Montana, delivered the gavel to incoming President Ron Laycock of Benson, Minnesota.

The New Jersey Connection
Lewis’s guide to Philadelphia during his visit in 1803 was a lawyer from a prominent Morris County, N.J., family, Mahlon Dickerson, then living in the City and serving as a member of Philadelphia’s common council. He and Lewis had dinner with prominent Philadelphians, including George Logan at Stenton, and Thomas McKean, Pennsylvania’s governor during the five weeks in May and June that Lewis sojourned here.

Dickerson and Lewis had been introduced by Jefferson at his fabled dinner table in Washington in 1801. Political aspirant Dickerson returned to New Jersey in 1810 to operate his family’s magnetite mine at Succasunna, N.J. and later became a member of the New Jersey Supreme Court, Governor of the state, and Secretary of the Navy under Andrew Jackson. Dickerson wrote a journal which is held jointly by the Rutgers Library and the N.J. Historical Society.

Resource: Jackson, Donald, Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, with Related Documents, 1783-1854 .

Updated August 31, 2003
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