What a great weekend it was for Camp Doughboy on Governors Island. I had not been on the island all summer, working as I have in northern Manhattan at Grant’s Tomb since early June. It was so good to see and catch up with many of the rangers and volunteers I have known for almost . . . nine years . . . now. It is the people you meet and get to know who make it all worthwhile.
I had a good conversation with a friend on the ferry boat over about John Purroy Mitchel, the subject of my talk later in the morning. In the late 1900s, before himself becoming the city’s chief administrator, Mitchel worked with Mayor George B. McClellan Jr. to clean up the city, with a special focus on Tammany Hall. In a small bit of serendipity we noted that the Battery Maritime Building from which the ferry had taken off was itself built by Mayor McClellan in 1908-09, a few years after his split from Tammany. The thousands of people who cross the harbor every week pass the tablet you see above without giving it a second thought. Mitchel was a natural ally for Mac in the endeavor to take down Tammany, and while the two were not wholly successful in taming the Tiger they did put a serious dent in its power and influence. Both former mayors joined the armed services when the United States joined the fight, with Major Mitchel killed stateside in a flight accident and Lieutenant Colonel McClellan going to France.