I will have some updates to share in the coming weeks… stay tuned
I will have some updates to share in the coming weeks… stay tuned
As us Bostonians continue to count the days till the first signs of spring, I have some exciting developments to share with USS Arizona Project Fund community.
Before jumping into the news, I wanted to address some of the feedback I have received over the past weeks. Our community has grown immensely over the course of the past few months and I and the board are delighted to welcome “aboard” all the new members. However, what I overlooked is that those of you who just joined us might not know much about the journey that led us to establishing the fund and its mission. I will direct all the newcomers to the bottom of this newsletter where I briefly share the links to learn more about us, our fund and more important the Arizona. One more piece of feedback I wanted to address relates to my most recent post about the trip down to Yale University to review Daniel Upton’s letters. I realized that I forgot to provide some context about who he was and the role he played in the history of our ship. I will also address those questions at the end of this newsletter. That is all the news on the feedback stand front, but please keep it coming as I appreciate all your thoughts. Now onto the big news…
First, I wanted to share a few highlights from our 1st fundraising event of 2015. A huge thanks to our Boston based community for navigating eight foot snow drifts and a collapsing public transit system to historical JJ Foley’s to spend a few hours with myself and board members Kevin Collins and Clay Westrope.
By all accounts the night was a success as we kicked off our efforts to spread the message about the fund and our 2015 plans. We were even able the correct a misassumption held by a few people that were planning on “discovering” the battleship USS Arizona that sank in Pearl Harbor. Thanks to the generosity of JJ Foley's, Celtics organization ( Patrick Lynch) and Channel 5 WCVB( Elizabeth Fiorile) we had some great prizes to raffle off to the attendees. Once we get a better count of the funds raised that night, I will be sure to share with all of you. For all those who were unable to join us, keep an eye out for our 2nd fundraiser which should kickoff in the next few weeks and won't be exclusive to the Boston community.
Second, I am very excited to announce that as of last week the USS Arizona Civil War Project Fund has been awarded 501 c(3) tax exempt status. This not only means all that your contributions are now tax deductible but it also allows us to apply for grants and other benefits. We are quite excited about this news and happy that the application process is behind us.
So those are the two large developments that we wanted to share. We will have another research update in the coming weeks when I get a chance to share the highlights of my search for Captain Upton’s wartime letters and their connection to one of the most famous US Presidents.
In closing, I want to share the information that I promised at the start of this note:
Thanks for reading!
After my post about Daniel P. Upton’s letters a few weeks back, I got an inquiry or two request to learn more about him. We definitely will be diving deeper into different aspects of his life in coming newsletters, but I think the short biography (thanks to Yale University) below provides a good overview of his life.
Daniel Putnam Upton was born on August 19, 1833, on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, the son of George B. and Ann Coffin Hussey Upton. He was a master mariner and ship captain who sailed on clipper ships commissioned by his father George B. Upton, and on other vessels that he chartered and purchased. From November 1861 through September 1863 he served as an acting lieutenant for the United States Navy. It was during this period that Upton served as the Captain of the Arizona. He commanded the ship from the March 1863 until September 1863 when he dismissed from the Navy upon a guilty verdict in his second court martial. Despite being in command for this small period of time, Captain Upton is at the center of many of the most intrigued narratives of the Arizona’s history. We will explore these stories later in the year and get a chance to ask many questions about the true nature of both of his court martials.
Upon concluding his maritime career he became a farmer in Framingham, Massachusetts, and died there by suicide on March 27, 1867. I have a few interesting theories about what pushed him to take his own life some of which I already touched upon in my previous post. However, I will save them for another day and another research note.
Until then, thanks for reading
Before we jump into the updates from my jaunt down to Yale University, we have some exciting news for our Boston based readers. The fund will be hosting a fundraiser at a local establishment on Thursday Feb 26^th. If you are in the area and didn’t receive an invitation let me know and we will be sure to loop you in. Now on to my trip down to New Haven!
Being that this was my first time on Yale’s campus, I took some extra time to walk around the impressive grounds. However, as you might guess most of my time was spent in the basement of Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript library.
I have long wondered how Yale University came to acquire the letters of Daniel Putnam Upton especially since I never found any connection between his family and the University itself. The library staff informed me that they were donated to the library in 1971 by Edith McCullough Irons, Ethel McCullough Scott and John G. McCullough. I haven't a clue about how they acquired them, but that is one of many questions best left for another day and another newsletter.
Back to the primary goal of this excursion which was to analyze this bundle of 131 autographed letters from Daniel Upton to his Father, Mother and Brother. I hoped to uncover any valuable insights that relate to the time period during which Daniel served as the Captain of the Arizona as well anything that might shed light on the events that led to his court martial. After checking in with the friendly staff, I was forced to abandon all my belongings in a locker except for a few pencils, a notepad and a camera. Only after a series of questions and acknowledgements was I given a single cardboard box that contained all his letters and notes.
Upon opening the box I was struck by the thought that not only was I going to be handling letters written nearly 160 years ago, but that the author himself had walked the decks of the Arizona, slept in its cabins and led its crew into battle. It was a surreal moment for me as it was one step closer to touching something that physically came from the lost ship. However like most things in life the box held more questions than answers. Here are few of the major highlights from the day I spent with the letters:
* I had assumed that this collection included Daniel’s wartime letters and that the library might have just mislabeled the time period covered in the manuscripts. This assumption proved quite wrong as all the wartime letters were missing. I know for a fact that at one point these letters existed, thanks to Mr. Christopher’s records, but the question is where are they held and why were they separated from this collection? This turned out to be entire story in its own right and one that will save for a future update.
* While it is clear from the letters that the Upton’s commercial shipping business was quite successful, Daniel seemed to constantly struggle to find his own role in the business and more importantly in his own family. A few of the letters illuminated the manic nature of his emotions and his every changing sense of self-worth. He lived in the shadow of his older brother and had a deep dislike of societal demands placed upon the Upton's and other wealthy families of Boston. In fact, It many instances it appears that he suffered from mood swings that can probably best defined as chronic depression. These moods were not directly connected to the period following his court martial as similar occurrences can be highlighted before the War.
* I am beginning to believe that Daniel received his commission on the Arizona not because of his experience as a commercial captain, but rather because of his father’s influences and the family’s connection to the Coffins; the prominent Nantucket whaling family. Could this entitlement have led to his court martial? Did his social status create a division between himself and his crew? Perhaps they saw him as nothing more than the spoiled son of a wealthy Boston merchant?
* Comparing the letters from before and after the War (and the court martial) there is a clear change in the tone of the relationship between Daniel and his Father. While I was unable to see George’s responses to his son’s letters, it is clear that there is a lot of personal and public shame associated with the end of Daniel’s service on the Arizona. In fact, Daniel seemed to grasp at any opportunity to reshape the perception, and more importantly his Father’s perception(ie. family's), of why he was dismissed from the U.S. Navy. Never was this more evident then in one letter where he included a small article from a San Francisco paper that lauded the wartime record of Daniel Upton (see included picture). It is not hard to guess the identity of this paper’s “source” especially when you consider the last line, “ The jealousies of the regular navy officers is said to have driven him from the service and deprived the country of one its braevst(sp?) and most able officers.”
This was a fascinating discover as I had never known Lt. Upton’s interpretation of his own court martial and his belief that his time on Arizona was ended unjustly.
That is all for now. I will have another update in the coming weeks that will illuminate the events surrounding Daniel P. Upton’s suicide in Framingham, MA on March 27, 1867.
In the meantime, please see below for ways you can support our efforts.
Help Us Discover the USS Arizona!
I write you all during this holiday season with a few updates to share about the USS Arizona Civil War Project Fund.
One of goals that the board outlined for the fund leadership earlier this year was to revisit the trove of research that the late Mr. Christopher left behind us. As a self-proclaimed “historian” I was more than happy to take up the task and outline an approach to tackle the cache of information.
The first part of my strategy is to track down the core primary sources that are associated with the Arizona. These sources include diaries, letters, logbooks or other personal recollections of individuals who actually participated or witnessed events associated with the ship. Mr. Christopher had discovered many of these in past, but a few of their locations and content has been lost. The second part of my strategy is to locate and review any military or government records associated with the Arizona or any individuals connect to the ship and its service years.
Here are a couple resources I hope to track down in the coming year:
So with these challenges at hand, I will spend the next few months diving into the Arizona’s past. I hope to share highlights from this journey and hopefully you will be compelled to join me in the discussions on our website.
Check back in the coming days for an update on my trip to the Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. In the meantime, please see the links below for ways you can support our efforts.
Happy New Year,
Happy Fall! We have been lucky to enjoy some warm weather in the past few weeks, but I fear we will soon be reminded of typical New England weather patterns.
Well it has been a while since our last update, but I can assure you that I and the board members have been hard at work.
Over the past few weeks, I have been hitting the phones and have had many conversations with potential partners in Louisiana. These partners have included state archeologists, underwater surveying professionals and local historians. The intent behind these outreaches was to get a better sense of the costs, timeline and overall approach for our future survey of the wreck site. I am excited to say that these conversations were successful and we have kicked off the planning process for a potential 2015 trip.
Obviously in order for the Project Fund to complete this future survey trip we are going to need the support of our loyal friends and family. With this in mind, the USS Arizona Project Fund will be planning on hosting a Boston Fundraiser at a downtown establishment in either late January or early February. We will have more details in the coming weeks, but make sure you are a fan of our facebook page to ensure we have your contact information.
On a final note, I am excited to say that over the past few months I have connected with many leaders within the Boston College History Department and have gotten the opportunity tell the story of the Arizona. Nothing has been put into motion yet, but we are hoping to find a few opportunities for them and their students to play a role in supporting the fund in the near future.
That is all for now. Keep an eye out for more timely updates and hopefully an invitation to our upcoming fundraiser.
Bonus: Here are some interesting Civil War/History stories that caught my attention in the past few weeks
This week marks the kickoff of our campaign, so keep your eyes out for updates. Below is the outline of our request and how you can help. Please consider contributing to the fund!
Here is how you can support the USS Arizona Civil War Project Fund:
Like our Facebook page and share it with anyone else who might be interested in our mission.
Donate to our cause and directly contribute to locating, surveying and securing the wreck of the USS Arizona - ussarizonacivilwar.org/donate
Explore ussarizonacivilwar.org to learn more about the ship, the fund, and our upcoming projects
Volunteer in any way you can as we are always looking for additional support – fundraising, outreach, research, etc. Contact email@example.com for opportunities
Thank you for your attention and any support you can provide, it is deeply appreciated.
I happy to report that our work with the fund is really starting to gain momentum. We have spent the past month since our "soft launch" establishing many exciting connections within our community and surrounding ecosystem.
Here are a few updates I wanted to shared:
That is all for now.
It is amazing to believe that this past week marked the official launch of the USS Arizona Civil War Project Fund. It seems like only yesterday that I presented this mission and the idea of fulfilling Rob’s vision to Jennifer and the rest of Rob’s immediate family. Nevertheless after a crash course in non-profit incorporation and 501c (3) applications, I am so happy to we have arrived. That being said we couldn’t have reached the milestone without the support and help of many individuals. First, a huge thanks to my board and my Research Director Tom for all the timely support throughout this process and their continued confidence in me. Second, I am grateful for all the hours my Brother (Nicholas) and my Father (Nils) have dedicated to building out the website and vetting the content on it.
With the launch of the website behind us, I am excited about what the rest of 2014 entails for all of us inspired by the story of the USS Arizona. In the coming weeks, I will be communicating additional details associated with our upcoming project in Louisiana and more importantly, how you can help. In the meantime, please feel free to explore the website. Also if you have any feedback, questions or general inquires, my team and I can be reached via the contact page or I can emailed directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
President & CEO