Otsego Lake, Cooperstown, New York; June 8, 2013

Otsego Lake, Cooperstown, New York; 8 June 2013

I got back earlier this afternoon from Cooperstown, the site for this year’s Conference on New York State History. I spoke yesterday on the role that Theodore Roosevelt Sr. and other wealthy New Yorkers played in both the war and its aftermath. When I was at the Teddy Roosevelt Birthplace in Manhattan in February, my friend Ranger Sam and I were discussing the lack biographies, or even articles, about the great philanthropist and reformer. Yes, he was the father of the future president, but he was much more than that. It is a ripe topic, and I believe I may be the one to tell the story. There are even many parallels with the life and career of  Joseph Hawley.

There were two of us on the panel. The other speaker was Christopher Fobare of Utica College, who I had not met until yesterday. Christopher gave an exceptionally thoughtful presentation about Horatio Seymour, Roscoe Conkling, and the presidential election of 1868. His talk explored the elections of 1872, in which Horace Greeley ran against the incumbent Grant, and 1876 (New York’s Samuel J. Tilden vs. Hayes) as well. It is a very misunderstood time in American history. Christopher really got to the heart of the matter and explained why it is important.

I had not been to Cooperstown in fifteen years. A friend and I visited in 1998, coincidentally just a few weeks after Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa broke Roger Maris’s single season home run. This time their memorabilia was not on display as it was then. Cooperstown–the Hall and the village–is such a great place. No, Abner Doubleday did not invent baseball there but the region has the pastoral feel of the game’s early nineteenth century origins. As the image above reflects, James Fenimore Cooper did not call Otsego Lake Glimmerglass for no reason. Getting there is part of the experience. It was a great weekend all the way around.