National Geographic : 1956 Nov
sternly rejected a proposal that he become king. And here he evolved principles of union and statehood that became cherished tradi tions in the new Republic. I drove to near-by Temple Hill and climbed the knoll where Washington calmed angry officers threatening revolt over pay. Fum bling for his spectacles, he made a poignant and perhaps decisive remark, "Gentlemen... I have not only grown gray, but almost blind, in the service of my country." Shamed by the realization of their commander's personal sac rifice, the soldiers pledged their loyalty. From this hill, the site of the Continental Army's last encampment, soldiers marched away to their homes. Now it is known as the "Birthplace of the Republic." Crosses on Doors Bar Witches Northward up the river history speaks from other venerable houses, from pioneer settle ments, and from monumented battlefields (page 595).* Where Dutch, English, French, and Ger man settlers once wrestled with primeval stumps, their descendants punch time clocks in throbbing industrial plants and labora tories. But the past is never far away. At New Paltz I walked the tree-lined 'Street of the Huguenots" on a ridge high above the Wallkill River. Here the heads of 12 families of French Protestant refugees tilled their land in common and governed the grow ing community so wisely that no one ever appealed a decision. I paused before a 1712 cottage with the honorable sag of age. It was the home of pioneer Abraham Hasbrouck, and has been occupied in recent years by the Evers family. Miss Elisabeth Evers invited me in. We climbed down into a cavernous cellar kitchen where colonial youths gathered at night to pit fighting cocks. I asked about odd cross marks on iron door latches. "To keep witches out," she replied, smiling. "Come with me across the street," Miss Evers said suddenly. "I'll show you my fa vorite view." We climbed on a wall above the fertile flats of the Wallkill. Beyond the valley the Sha wangunk Mountains rise in dreamy splendor, crowned by glacier-made lakes. Some 25 miles away we could see the blue stair stepped barrier of the Catskill Mountains. In the Wallkill bottom land corn lay plas tered against wet soil. "Indians warned the first settlers not to build down there," Miss Evers said, "because the river overflowed once a year." Senate House Survived Enemy Fire I drove to Kingston, briefly the capital of old New York State, and walked across a narrow park to the Senate House. Meeting at times in this low limestone house of Wessel Ten Broeck, New York's founding fathers in 1777 adopted the first State constitution in Kingston, held the first general election, and proclaimed a first-generation Irishman George Clinton-as their first Governor. Here the first popularly elected senate met, and John Jay convened the first State court. Tides of war forced State officials to leave in haste, but the stone walls survived enemy torches that charred the settlement. On the other side of the Hudson at Pough keepsie, I entered the sequestered campus of Vassar College. I had never seen so many bi cycles. They lay in huddles before Main Building and every ivied hall. Classes changed. I was suddenly caught in a swirl of young women in Bermuda shorts, who bore down upon their wheels and pedaled away furiously (page 583). Ninety-five years ago Poughkeepsie brewer * See "The Mighty Hudson," by Albert W. At wood, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, July, 1948.