Friday, August 29, 2008

Hey did you know that Springfield is the location of the event that spurred the infant nation into considering a Constitution? That's right folks, if it wasn't for Daniel Shays and his efforts to point out the injustices that followed the Revolutionary War, who knows what would have happened to the nation. History buffs, read on...

Springfield Technical Community College will host a two-day celebration of the National Endowment for the Humanities-funded website Shays’ Rebellion and the Making of a Nation: From Revolution to Constitution on September 12 and 13, leading up to Constitution Day on September 17. The public is invited to attend these events, which focus on the history of Western Massachusetts and the establishment of the United States Constitution. The web address will be

Who was Luke Day of West Springfield, and what did he look like? What existed on State Street two centuries ago? Should Henry McCullough have been hanged? Was Daniel Shays misguided and dishonored, leading a “disordered and impoverished mob,” according to a speaker in 1898, or was he a hero who stood up for the people of the new country, and a part of an effort that led to the Constitution we still live by, today?

On Friday, September 12, the exhibit Bryant White’s Paintings Illustrating Shays’ Rebellion will open with a reception for the artist from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the Amy H. Carberry Fine Arts Gallery at STCC. White will give a talk at 5:00 p.m. on the process of creating historical art, particularly for this website. The art gallery is located on the lower level of Building 28. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 12:30 to 4:30, and Saturday 10:00 to 2:00. The exhibit contains 30 paintings featured in this website; the show will continue through October 4. The exhibit is made possible in part by funding from STCC Student Activities.

According to Bryant White’s website, “When in 9th Grade, Bryant was asked ‘Do you want to be an artist when you grow up?’ He replied, ‘How old do you have to be to be an artist?’

Practicing ever since, and attending University of Maryland to attain a BA in Visual Arts & Graphic Design, Bryant White is always seeking to find the best medium for his subjects. In his love of history he has gained insight to the lives of people of the past...countless hours of reading diaries & accounts give inspiration for his works, as well as participating in Living History programs for over thirty years. ‘Even in today's mass media, all events and happenings are not portrayed...I hope to capture that moment in time, meaningful to one person, or to an entire nation.’; Currently he resides in Pennsylvania, working at home and in the studio nearby.”

On Saturday morning. September 13, the launch of the website, and a discussion by Shays’ scholars will be presented in the 7th floor conference area of Scibelli Hall at STCC. Registration will begin at 8:45 a.m., with the program beginning at 9:15. The demonstration of the website will be held at 9:45, followed by a panel discussion from 10:30 to noon. Scholars will discuss the continuing relevance of Shays’ Rebellion.

Panelists include:
Barbara Mathews, Ph.D., the panel moderator, is the Senior Historian at the Pocumtuck Valley Historical Association (PVMA). She has served as the Website Content Director and Specialist for the Shays website. She is the academic director of the Deerfield Teacher’s Center, and has written content for two of PVMA’s award-winning websites: American Centuries: View from New England, and Raid on Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704.

Robert A. Gross is the James L. and Shirley A. Draper Professor of Early American History at the University of Connecticut. A social and cultural historian and onetime journalist at Newsweek, he is the author of The Minutemen and Their World (1976, 2001), which won the Bancroft Prize in American History. During the bicentennial of Shays’ Rebellion in 1986-87, he organized a national conference, co-sponsored by Amherst College and Historic Deerfield, and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. From that gathering, and a conference held by the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, was developed In Debt to Shays: The Bicentennial of an Agrarian Rebellion (1993), the collection of essays Gross edited and introduced for the Colonial Society.

Kevin Sweeney is Professor of History and American Studies at Amherst College. He has written extensively on colonial New England, and most recently co-authored with Evan Haefeli Captors and Captives: The 1704 French and Indian Raid on Deerfield. Currently he is researching the possession and use of firearms in eastern America from 1620 to 1820.

Leonard Richards is Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
He is the author of:
• Gentlemen of Property and Standing: Anti-Abolition Mobs in Jacksonian America
• The Advent of American Democracy (1977) (won the American Historical Association's Albert J. Beveridge Prize)
• The American Record (1982, 1987, 1995) (Co-editor)
• The Life and Times of Congressman John Quincy Adams (1986) (finalist for the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for biography)
• The Slave Power: the Free North and Southern Domination, 1780-1860 (2000) (won second place in the prestigious Lincoln Prize Competition)
• Shays's Rebellion: The American Revolution's Final Battle (2002)

Registration for the Saturday program is free, but is required by September 5. To register, contact Dr. Arlene Rodriguez at, or 413/755-4232.

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