Remembering our Good Fortune

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To Ms. Eliza Guinan, Michael's sister. The letter was not sent until Michael arrived in Washington DC on July 30th. From The Mariners' Museum Collection.

Hello again, and welcome back to the Library blog. I hope everyone had a pleasant Fourth of July and a weekend spent with friends and family. Sadly, during the Civil War hundreds of thousands of young men could not share in this simple joy. Separated from their loved ones, the only merriment many soldiers had was what they could create for themselves. Private Michael Guinan of the 128th New York Volunteers Co. A wrote to his sister a letter several days after the Fourth, recounting the somber celebration he and his unit had produced.

“We passed the Fourth of July in camp with no amusement of any kind whatsoever only in the evening (Bill?) Forster got a couple of barrels of beer and called us all up and we all drank a glass in honor of the day… at taps we all went to bed, to dream of times gone by and of those to come again: to dream of the Fourths of July we passed at home, and of those we will pass if God spares us to return again.” – Pvt. Michael Guinan, July 1864.   Read more

Happy 4th!

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"My dear Taylor, present my friendly greeting to your sons, and give them the enclosed $10, to purchase materials for a glorious noise. Your friend, John Ericsson." Recieved July 4th, 1887. From The Mariners' Museum Collection.

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the library blog. The 4th of July is a special day for all Americans: young and old, immigrant or native born, we can all share in the love of liberty that our Independence Day celebrates. John Ericsson, a Swedish immigrant and inventor of the USS Monitor, was no different. Although he was seen as by the public as veing arrogant, cold, hard edged and antisocial, Ericsson had a softer side as well. In a letter to his friend and personal secretary Samuel Taylor, Ericsson includes a gift to help Taylor’s family enjoy the festivities.

Ericsson’s letter means more than just entertainment for Taylor’s children. His kind gift and thoughtful gesture shows just that Ericsson was not the cold, haughty engineer that everyone thought him to be. He was also a man who could open his heart to others, and who felt how special our Independence Day can be. Perhaps we can take inspiration from his letter as we gather with friends and family this 4th of July to celebrate what it means to be an American. After all, what could be more American than helping kids launch fireworks?   Read more