Wednesday, July 3, 2013

PEACE AND PLENTY

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

One of my favorite American Historical patterns was made by James and Ralph Clews (1813-1834) around 1825.  To me it epitomizes the hope and innocence of the new United States.  Known as Peace and Plenty (the words seen on the shield along with the seal of the United States), the scene is one of abundance.  Flowers and fruit overflow from the border.   The figure is supposedly Cincinnatus (519 BC-430 BC), the Roman statesman who was created dictator of Rome in order to defeat Rome's enemies.  After completing the task, he resigned his office and went back to being a farmer (albeit an aristocratic one).  George Washington has been compared to Cincinnatus as he refused the offer to be the lifelong ruler of the United States (think king).  When his term was up as president, he went back to his farm at Mount Vernon.  Washington certainly added to the peace and plenty of the United States both literally and figuratively.

Peace And Plenty by James & Ralph Clews/I took the platter off my wall, so I left the hanger on.

Peace and Plenty Close-Up
When I look at this pattern, I think about what the United States meant to my maternal grandfather, Samuel Berenson.  One of my earliest memories is seeing him put the flag out to celebrate July 4.  I asked him why he did it.  He explained the history of the holiday, and why his own history made him love the United States so much.   He was from a poor Jewish family in Tsarist Russia.  Jews weren't allowed to be Russian citizens, but they did have to pay taxes and serve in the Russian army.  They weren't protected by law.  He was told that the United States was a place of opportunity.  That all people were protected by law (as we know now, not all people).  He still had to pay taxes and serve in the military, but he could become a citizen.  He called the United States the "Promised Land." 

He died on July 5, 1952.  He didn't want to miss celebrating July 4.

Sam Berenson circa 1902

Sam Berenson's great great granddaughter



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