USPS Great Americans Series
Issued July 25, 1985
Welcome to my Independent Study Project in History
Berkshire Community College-Spring 2011
Advisor: Prof. Chris Laney, History Dept. Chair

The purpose of this project is to discover if and how Henry Knox is being remembered in the cities and towns that bear markers of his 1775/76 winter journey. Knox's crucial expedition delivered nearly sixty tons of artillery from Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York to General George Washington at Cambridge Massachusetts. These guns were the key to liberating Boston from British military occupation months before the Declaration of Independence. The anniversary of that liberation is celebrated in Massachusetts each March 17th as Evacuation Day. I plan to begin my inquiry in Alford, in southern Berkshire County, where Knox passed into Massachusetts from New York on his return to Boston. I will follow the historic markers of the Knox Trail east to Cambridge, the site of Gen. Washington's headquarters at the time, and ultimately to the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester where the installation of Knox's artillery persuaded the British to abandon their occupation of the city. It is my intention to also visit markers in the state of New York as the semester permits. At the very least this project will necessitate a later visit to Fort Ticonderoga, the source of the essential armaments, captured by Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen the spring prior to Knox's expedition.

It is my personal hope that I can use this forum to show that history is not something that lives in the past; it is something we live everyday. When I’ve walked the streets of Boston, I’ve walked in the footsteps of Knox, John Adams and so many others--Patriots and Tories. When I’ve admired the view from Mount Greylock or Monument Mountain, I’ve been inspired by the same sights as Melville, Hawthorne, Bryant and Thoreau. And when I’ve stared out at the horizon from New Bedford, I’ve wondered at the same extent that called thousands to seek their fortunes on hundreds of whaling ships. It is my sincere belief that through the study of history we, the human race, are better positioned to meet the challenges of the future.

As I focus on my future as an educator it is my endeavor to find new ways to approach teaching and learning. To present a subject like history, which to to those not inclined to it can seem stale or needlessly prone to pedantry, in ways that foster inquiry and spark curiosity. How can we embrace the cultural paradigm of instant information and sound bites to bring essential information to students? How can we reach them where they are? It is my wish that this project will teach me something about how to do that.

“We need history, certainly, but we need it for reasons different from those for which the idler in the garden of knowledge needs it . . .We need it, that is to say, for the sake of life and action . . .We want to serve history only to the extent that history serves life.”--Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life