Monday, February 25, 2008

Monumental Fiddling

Mark your calendars for the most monumental of Monumental Fiddling Championship and Acoustic Band Contests. This day of rousing music and fun-filled competition will take place at Homestead National Monument of America’s Education Center on Saturday, May 24, 2008.

In celebration of its 10th Anniversary total prize money for the event will increase to $1000, thanks to the Leigh F. Coffin, Jane M. Coffin, and Leigh M. Coffin Foundation. There is no registration fee or admission fee for the Monumental Fiddling Championship and Acoustic Band Contest.

"The tenth annual Monumental Fiddle Festival is shaping up to be one of the biggest ever. Plan to attend this wonderful event to kick off the summer season." said Mark Engler, Superintendent of Homestead National Monument of America.

The day will start with a free workshop for fiddlers. Participants will be divided into Junior (less than five years experience) and Senior Divisions. Participants will be asked to play a hoedown, waltz and tune of choice. All music should be from the homesteading era of 1862 to when Homestead National Monument of America was created in 1936. There will be an evening concert of winners with the top three in each division receiving cash prizes and trophies. Times for the workshop, registration, competition and evening concert will be announced at a later date.

The Nebraska Chapter of American String Teachers Association will again be conducting a fiddle tune writing contest. The winning tune will be announced at the competition. For more information on the writing contest, contact Deborah Greenbleatt at g-s@alltel.net.

The Monumental Fiddling Championship and Acoustic Band Contest is sponsored in part by the Nebraska Arts Council, Leigh F. Coffin, Jane M. Coffin, and Leigh M. Coffin Foundation and Eastern National Bookstore.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Solomon D. Butcher Photographs

Homestead National Monument of America will open a Solomon D. Butcher Photography exhibition on March 15, 2008 at the monument’s Education Center. This special exhibition will run until June 30, 2008. On loan from the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney, Nebraska, the exhibition will feature images from their collection of Solomon Butcher prints.

This exhibition showcases homesteaders from western Nebraska. Butcher originally initiated this unique project due to his acute awareness that homesteading was a brief moment in American history, worthy of documentation. From 1886 to 1911 he photographed the men and women brave enough to homestead in hopes of relating their stories to future generations.

The portion of Butcher’s prints on display at Homestead National Monument of America
consists of homesteading family portraits and ‘re-created histories’
from western Nebraska.






Homestead National Monument of America is a unit of the National Park System located four miles west of Beatrice, Nebraska on State Highway 4. Current hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekends. Admission to all events, exhibits, and displays is free of charge. For additional information, please call 402-223-3514 or visit www.nps.gov/home.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

What was the reasoning behind the Homestead Act?



On July 4, 1861 in speaking to a special session of Congress Abraham Lincoln tried to explain what their side was fighting for in the Civil War:



"This is essentially a People's contest. On the side of the Union, it is a struggle for maintaining in the world, that form, and substance of government, whose leading object is, to elevate the condition of men---to lift artificial weights from all shoulders---to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all---to afford all, an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life. Yielding to partial, and temporary departures, from necessity, this is the leading object of the government for whose existence we contend."


It can be argued that the passage of the Homestead Act by Congress in the spring of 1862 was an attempt to meet Lincoln’s definition of the “leading object” of our government; that is, in giving away free land through the Homestead Act Congress hoped “to elevate the condition of men---to lift artificial weights from all shoulders---to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all---to afford all, an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life.”

Other Presidents have agreed on the purpose of the Homestead Act:



  • Lyndon B. Johnson, August 26, 1965: Like the lawmakers in our past who created the Homestead Act….we say that it is right and that it is just, and that it is a function of government, and that we are going to carry out that responsibility to help our people get back on their feet and share once again in the blessings of American life.



  • George H.W. Bush, November 28, 1990: Abraham Lincoln's Homestead Act empowered people; it freed people from the burden of poverty. It freed them to control their own destinies, to create their own opportunities, and to live the vision of the American dream.



  • George W. Bush, January 20, 2005: In America's ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence. This is the broader definition of liberty that motivated the Homestead Act, the Social Security Act, and the GI Bill of Rights.


However, others would argue the motivation behind the Homestead Act was “Manifest Destiny.”


Manifest Destiny was the belief that the people of the United States were destined to extend the "boundaries of freedom," democratic institutions, and American ideals from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean.

Still others would argue the motivation behind the Homestead Act was greed; that Eastern capitalists wanted to see the West settled so there would be an expanding market for the products of industrialization.

What do you feel was the reasoning behind the Homestead Act?

There was an error in this gadget