A brief NY history of the 4th of July

Sunday marks the 245th birthday of the United States of America, but only the 94th anniversary of July 4 becoming our official independence day holiday.

Dates, of course, can be fluid things. The first official motion in the Continental Congress to declare independence from Great Britain was made by a Virginia delegate, Richard Henry Lee, on June 7, 1776. The actual vote in the Continental Congress to secede was taken on July 2. It wasn’t until two days later, July 4, that representatives of the original 13 colonies voted to accept the Declaration of Independence.

The process is replete with oddities involving New York. A few examples:

• Robert Livingston was the New York delegate on the five-member committee appointed after Lee’s proposal to draft a formal statement justifying the break with Britain. However, most of the writing was done by its youngest member, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. Curiously, their “Declaration of Independence” does not contain the word “independence” except in its title.

• The same Robert Livingston did not initially sign the Declaration because he claimed it was too soon to take such a step and was back home in New York when it was ratified in Philadelphia. (Interestingly, for various reasons several other leading “founding fathers” also did not sign, among them George Washington, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison.)

• Philip Livingstone of Albany, a first cousin once removed of Robert Livingstone and one of three Livingstone family members who were among the colony’s 56 delegates to the Continental Congress, is the only one of the trio who signed the Declaration of Independence. The other New York signers were Lewis Morris, Francis Lewis, and William Floyd.

• The New York delegation did not at first ratify the Declaration. In fact, it didn’t vote on any proposals, claiming its colonial government had never provided full instructions on what stance to take. It eventually did vote on July 15 to ratify, claiming instructions had finally been received.

Another virtual social is in the books

Screen Shot 2020-04-03 at 5.56.21 PMSRC’s latest virtual social hour drew 10 people Thursday night via Zoom: Dick Drumm, Phil Kellerman, Debbie and Peter Brown, Andy Leyhane, Kevin Leyhane, Charlie Foote, Pat Bailey, Jim Leyhane, and Roberto Martinez.

That means the Leyhanes topped the Browns by a 3-2 score, and everyone else tied for third place.

What did we learn in this first few days of the state’s reopening? That our members are their families seem to be doing OK in this time of COVID-19, keeping busy with gardening, lawn care, reading, etc., and a few still working.

The next official meeting via Zoom is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, June 4. Members will receive via email the link to the meeting site.

Until then, as we head into the long Memorial Day weekend, a happy holiday to all!


Rotary’s 115th birthday party, and you’re invited

Screen Shot 2020-01-21 at 10.38.57 PMYou are invited to a very special birthday party.

Rotary will turn 115 this year, and District 7190 will celebrate the milestone with a party including light snacks, music, and, of course, a birthday cake — plus a few surprises.

The details: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, February 23, at the Glenville Senior Center, 32 Worden Road, Glenville. Tickets are just $12 for adults (18 and over), $7 for kids 7 to 17, and those under 6 will be admitted free.

Go here to sign up for the fun.


Your countdown to money-saving RSVP is on

60th logoDid you know there are only 24 days until Valentine’s Day?

But, more important, that also is how much time you have left to make your reservations for the discounted price of just $45 for SRC’s 60th Anniversary Dinner.

After Valentine’s Day, the price goes to $55 per person for the big event.

So, please email BillDowd4Troy@gmail.com ASAP and we’ll save you a place at the table at the discounted price.

If, by some strange quirk of the universe, you have not read the details of our celebration of six decades of public service, here they are:

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, March 5

Where: Comfort Inn & Suites, Miller Road, just off I-90 Exit 10

Who: SRC members, family, friends, and prospective Rotarians

Why: Because we’re celebrating 60 years of community service

What price: $45 per person through February 14, and $55 after that date

The final deadline for reservations is Thursday, February 20. Reservations will cover a wine-and-soft drinks open bar (plus cocktail cash bar), a lavish buffet spread, live entertainment, and a few surprises.

We’re certainly hoping to have as many current members, past members — especially past presidents — and prospective members join us for this very special event, along with family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues who we welcome with open arms. We also will have some visiting Rotary dignitaries.

Come on, get those RSVPs in!

The History of the Fourth of July

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The Fourth of July — also known as Independence Day or July 4th — has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th Century and the American Revolution.

On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence from Britain, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.

But, there is a lot more to this most American of holidays. Click on the links for a package from History.com:

A History of Independence Day

• Early Fourth of July Celebrations

Fourth of July Becomes a Federal Holiday

A Photo Gallery: The Founding Fathers


A very happy Thanksgiving Day to all


This oil painting by the iconic American artist Norman Rockwell is called “Freedom from Want.” It also is known as “The Thanksgiving Picture” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

It is the third work in the “Four Freedoms” series of four oil paintings by Rockwell inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union Address, a speech known as “Four Freedoms.”

The painting was created in November 1942 and published in the March 6, 1943 issue of The Saturday Evening Post magazine. All of the people in the picture were friends and family of Rockwell in Arlington, Vermont, who were photographed individually and painted into the scene.


Rotary tour of Burden Iron Works Museum scheduled

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-5-56-49-pmIf you’re unfamiliar with the former Burden Ironworks in Troy, you’ve missed a major part of America’s industrial history. But, you can remedy the oversight.

The Hudson Shores Rotary Club is iniviting Rotarians from throughout District 7190 members to attend a special tour on Tuesday, November 15, of the Burden Ironworks Museum, beginning at 12:45 p.m. The guide is Michael Barrett, executive director of the Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway (HMIG) organization.

Please email Ken Rose at rosek@rpi.edu if you plan to attend. Family members and friends are welcome to participate. There is no required fee to attend, but a $10 donation that would go toward support of HMIG is suggested.

Among many items the local iron industry contributed to the growth of the United States: the hull armor for the Union ironclad ship Monitor in the Civil War; the modern Read More »

Celebrating Labor Day


This is one of many murals painted by artists across the country as part of the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) from 1934 to 1943 to celebrate the range and energy of the American labor force.

If you’re not familiar with the Federal Art Project category of the WPA’s efforts at rebuilding the nation as we came out of the Great Depression — or even if you are and haven’t seen examples in a while — you can find a lot of information online. And, you can find an 11-image slideshow here from The New York Times.

In Rensselaer County, the main U.S. Post Office on Broadway in Troy has such art on its lobby walls. Seen below are “Rip Van Winkle” and “Legends of the Hudson,” both painted in 1938 by Waldo Pierce.