Impressions of the Midwest and Mid Atlantic, USA
It's quite a trip, nearly in a full circle from Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and the Grand Arch in St Louis, to the Country Music studios of Nashville and the reverse flow of the Chicago River, from the cracked Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to the Atlantic Ocean board of Maryland and Virginia, the deep origins of the America of 17th century colonies and the scars of the Civil War. Let me clarify that places like Arlington and Alexandria technically belong to Virginia, but you won't find them here, as I'd rather present them as part of the wider area around Washington DC. No offence meant to Virginia, which gets more than its share in this report anyway. Of course, I know, each of the States mentioned here, deserves to be separately in focus, but that remains an objective for travel yet to come. In the meantime, we do have the opportunity to get acquainted with a part of the United States which is by itself already half a continent. And, we also obtain a better insight in how the country grew into what it is today, how a city like St Louis came into being, and how tobacco planters in Virginia transformed themselves into visionary politicians who wrote a Constitution which essentially holds ground without fundamental revision after more than two centuries. In itself, this is plain remarkable. We also increase our awareness that it has not always been so glorious, for on our travels we sense how destructive the Civil War actually was, with as many casualties as there were American lives lost in World War Two and the Vietnam War combined. In Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia the wounds seem not to have remained as open and aching as they probably have in the States of the Deep South. But, well, everything is relative. What is not relative is that the regions we visit here, are one by one worth a detour, and even a separate voyage. It makes the 'to do' list just a little bit longer.
* Scanned Slides, 1988-1990
Before visiting the place of your choice:
Two years after founding Jamestown in 1607, the English mercenary John Smith purchased a piece of land from the Powhattan Indians and established yet another settlement, which he laconically called 'None Such'. In 1737 'None Such' was properly laid out as an urban centre and finally obtained a proper name, Richmond. The city grew prosperous and affluent to the extent that Thomas Jefferson, then still Governor of Virginia, moved his State capital from Williamsburg to Richmond in 1780. And when the Civil War broke out and the Confederacy had to choose its own capital, it also selected Richmond, after having headquartered for a while in Montgomery, Alabama. Here in Richmond, not only George Washington has his equestrian statue, so has also Robert Lee, in so far of course, since I visited, Lee and his horse have not been taken away from their stone base, because of contemporary 'political correction' dislodging the argument that the Civil War and anything it represents are factually and undeniably an intrinsic part of the country's history. I wonder whether the column of Confederacy President Jefferson Davis has also been an issue? And what about the bulky and yet quite elegant white-washed White House of the Confederacy? The Greek temple-like Capitol of 1788 was designed by Thomas Jefferson himself, but it was here that Robert Lee was named Commander in Chief of the Confederate army and it was also here that the Confederate Congress assembled from 1862 until its final days. On Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery a granite pyramid honours 18,000 Confederate soldiers who died in war.