Exploring History

Marist joins New York State in observing the 400th anniversary of the journeys by Henry Hudson and Samuel de Champlain that opened the Northeast to new trade and European settlement.

 The Half Moon docked at the Marist College riverfront.

The Half Moon docked at the Marist riverfront in June as part of the Quadricentennial's River Day celebration. Photo by Al Nowak/On Location.

If you were at the Marist College riverfront in June, you saw what Native Americans in the Hudson River Valley saw in 1609: an 85-foot ship with four masts, sailing north on a wind coming out of the southwest. The estuary wasn't called the Hudson then, but Muhheakantuck, a Lenape word meaning "the river flows two ways." The ship, the Half Moon, carried English captain Henry Hudson leading a Dutch expedition that had crossed the Atlantic to find a northwest route to Asia. Entering what is now New York Harbor, he sailed as far as present-day Albany before the river became too shallow to continue. Reports from his exploration led the Dutch to establish trade within the Hudson River Valley and to build the first European settlements in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania beginning in 1624.

The Half Moon visited Marist twice this past spring as part of New York State's year-long commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Hudson's voyage. The state's Quadricentennial celebration also marks the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain's arrival at the lake in the Adirondacks that now bears his name, opening the way to trade and settlement by French colonists, and the 200th anniversary of Robert Fulton's excursion from New York City to Albany marking the first successful long-distance trip by a steamboat.

The Half Moon replica ship visited Marist's commencement

The replica ship Half Moon provided a striking backdrop during commencement in May. Photo by Al Nowak/On Location.

 Marist has been involved in the Quadricentennial in a number of ways.

In honor of the Quadricentennial, Marist invited New York State Gov. David Paterson to give the commencement address on May 23 and awarded the inaugural Henry Hudson Medal to Paterson, New York's first African-American governor, the country's first legally blind governor, and a nationally recognized advocate for the visually and physically impaired. The medal will be awarded in future years to pioneers, explorers, and innovators who reflect the spirit of discovery exemplified by Henry Hudson. During the ceremony, the Half Moon graced the Marist shoreline and heralded the graduates by firing its cannon.

Gov. David Paterson gave the commencement address on May 23 and received Marist's inaugural Henry Hudson Medal

New York State Gov. David Paterson gave the commencement address on May 23 and was awarded Marist's inaugural Henry Hudson Medal.

The Half Moon, which is owned and operated by the New Netherland Museum in Albany, docked at the Martin Boathouse June 9 through 10 as part of the Quadricentennial's River Day, a flotilla that stopped in river cities during a weeklong journey from New York City to Albany. Members of the public and Marist staff viewed the ship's dockside displays of centuries-old arrowheads, jewelry, and other artifacts as well as demonstrations of knot tying, flint knapping, and musketry by crew in period dress.

The Half Moon docked at the Marist College riverfront

Visitors to Marist's riverfront viewed the Half Moon's dockside demonstrations of knot tying, flint knapping, and musketry by crew in period dress. Photo by Al Nowak/On Location.

During the 2008-09 academic year, students in Associate Professor of Communication Mark Van Dyke's public relations case studies classes worked with the state's Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial (HFCQ) Commission, creating a marketing campaign to publicize the Quadricentennial initiative at local colleges and on the Marist campus. Victoria Banks '09 says the work her class did on the project was amazing. "I learned a great amount about public relations and was able to contribute to the growth of a worthy cause. I met great people through this initiative. Our class acted as ambassadors for Marist and the HFCQ in spreading the word about this yearlong event, connecting to other schools and communities, and acting as a model for them to get involved too."

New York State officials presented Marist students with a Quadricentennial flag

Quadricentennial Executive Director Tara Sullivan (center) presented Marist administrators, faculty, and public relations students with an official ExploreNY 400 flag last fall. Also pictured in the front row (left to right) are Jessica Meyers '10, Erica Fazio '09, Kimberly Lyons '09, Quadricentennial executive and marketing assistant Nicole Sama, Ashley Southard '09, Bari Kurzman '09, Barbara Butler '09, and Kristina Aven '09. In the back row (left to right) are School of Communication and the Arts Dean Steven Ralston, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Thomas Wermuth, Associate Professor of Communication Mark Van Dyke, and Jessica Tougas '09.

Students in Marist's Hudson Valley History course completed research projects on the Quadricentennial theme. Topics included Native Americans in the Hudson Valley and their interaction with Hudson and Champlain; biographies of Hudson and Champlain; the voyages and vessels of the two explorers; the life of Robert Fulton; and Fulton's work with submarine warfare. The student work appears on the web site of Marist's Hudson River Valley Institute.

The Hudson River Valley Institute (HRVI) at Marist College will present New York's 400 Years: The Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Conference on Sept. 25 and 26 at Marist and the Henry A. Wallace Visitors and Education Center at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Historic Site in Hyde Park, N.Y. The conference is supported by a $30,000 pledge from the National Park Service with funding provided by Congressman Maurice Hinchey and a $25,000 grant from the HFCQ Commission.

Open to the public, sessions will focus on the Hudson River as a corridor of commerce; Dutch-American relations from 1609 to 2009; the art movement known as the Hudson River School; Native Americans in the Hudson Valley in the 17th century; the Hudson River Valley's Dutch; and Hudson River landscapes and architecture. Scholars making presentations include David Hackett Fischer, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in history for Washington's Crossing and author of Champlain's Dream. Conference co-sponsors are the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, the National Park Service, and the New York State Quadricentennial Office. For information contact HRVI at (845) 575-3052 or e-mail hrvi@marist.edu.

Hudson River Valley Review

HRVI has produced a spring 2009 issue of its journal the Hudson River Valley Review commemorating the Quadricentennial. The edition contains 14 articles on subjects such as Hudson, Champlain, Fulton, Native Americans at Ticonderoga, N.Y., Dutch culture as a result of Hudson's landing, the 1909 celebration, the Quadricentennial commemoration, the Walkway over the Hudson project, and part of the journal kept by Robert Juet, a crew member aboard the Half Moon during Hudson's voyage. Visit www.hudsonrivervalley.org for more information.

HRVI Director Thomas Wermuth and HRVI Executive Director James M. Johnson are collaborating on America's First River: The History and Culture of the Hudson River Valley, a project of the HFCQ Commission. The book will be a compilation of the best of the articles from the Hudson River Valley Review and its predecessor, the Hudson Valley Regional Review.

HRVI coordinated a project documenting the history of the Hudson-spanning Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, which opened in 1888 and went out of use after a fire in 1974 damaged the tracks. The nonprofit organization Walkway Over the Hudson has partnered with the Dyson Foundation to access public and private funding to transform the 1.25-mile-long bridge, which rises 212 feet above the river, into a path for walking and cycling that will be the longest pedestrian bridge in the world. The grand opening of the $35 million walkway on Oct. 2 and 3 will feature fireworks, a parade, bands, and flyovers by aircraft from the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. The Walkway organization and the Dyson Foundation asked HRVI to document the history of the railroad bridge, supported by a $30,000 grant from the Dyson Foundation. Jason Schaaf '97, education supervisor for HRVI and an adjunct lecturer in history at Marist, organized the project in which about a dozen HRVI student interns, as well as members of an honors history course, researched and conducted more than 42 interviews with people associated with the railroad bridge, including engineers who drove trains across the span. The students also transcribed the interviews. With help from their own student interns, staff of the Marist Media Center videotaped the interviews and compiled them for a documentary. Ultimately the material will be available in a CD collection for sale at a visitors' center on the walkway. Meanwhile, video clips are accessible at www.walkway.org.

1925 IRA Regatta program

In conjunction with the Walkway Over the Hudson dedication and the HFCQ's focus on the history of the Hudson, Marist will reenact the first Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championship Regatta held in Poughkeepsie in 1895. Supported by a $25,000 grant from the Jane W. Nuhn Charitable Trust, the Quadricentennial Regatta on Oct. 3 will bring back teams from the three original contenders: Cornell University, Columbia University, and the University of Pennsylvania. Other rowing powers of the old Poughkeepsie Regatta such as Navy and Syracuse will return to the banks of the Hudson, and local teams Marist, Army, and Vassar will also participate. Each school will select an eight-person varsity squad to compete in both men's and women's four-mile races. The regatta will commence near Roger's Point and finish just south of the Mid-Hudson Bridge. As in the original regatta, all crew teams will start side by side at the same time and race to the finish.