New-York Historical Society to explore Battle of Brooklyn
Exhibition On View Sept. 23, 2016-Jan. 8, 2017
This fall, to commemorate the 240th anniversary of the largest single battle of the American Revolution, the New-York Historical Society will present “The Battle of Brooklyn,” on view from Sept. 23, 2016 to Jan. 8, 2017. A story of American defeat in the first major armed campaign after the Declaration of Independence, the Battle of Brooklyn took place in August 1776, but does not occupy the same place in history as the more victorious engagements at Bunker Hill or Yorktown. Also known as the Battle of Long Island, the event is seen by some as the biggest missed opportunity for Britain to end the American rebellion and marks a pivotal moment when the fight for American independence teetered on the edge of failure.
“The Battle of Brooklyn was a major part of American history that happened right here in our backyards, but is often overlooked in stories of the founding of our nation,” said Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “On the surface, it could be seen as a moment of defeat, but this exhibition will show the resilience and strength of New Yorkers, who fought bravely and endured occupation of their city before finally becoming independent and free citizens.”
“The Battle of Brooklyn” will capture the volatile time when the Continental Congress and the American colonists turned ideas into action and broke their ties with Britain. The year 1776 opened with the publication of Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” sparking the call for separation across the colonies; it closed with the publication of his “American Crisis,” marking the sense of despair among supporters of independence.
With more than 100 objects documenting major political and military figures, the dynamic debates over independence and the artifacts of combat and British occupation, the exhibition will convey the atmosphere of New York City as it faced invasion by a British force that exceeded its own population. “The Battle of Brooklyn” is curated by the New-York Historical Society’s Valerie Paley, vice president, chief historian, dean of scholarly programs and director for the Center for Women’s History; and Jean Ashton, senior director of resources and programs, and library director emerita.
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