Chapter 4: The Battle of Newburgh
In 1961, the city manager of Newburgh, New York, declared war on its poorest residents by proclaiming, without evidence, that the city was overrun by welfare cheats.
“We challenge the right of chiselers and loafers to squat on the welfare rolls forever,” said City Manager Joseph Mitchell. He blamed generous welfare benefits for attracting new poor Black migrants to the small city.
In response, city officials launched a campaign of harsh crackdowns on welfare recipients that included surprise police interrogations, rigid eligibility restrictions and forcing able-bodied men to work to receive a welfare check. But were these new rules designed to reduce welfare fraud or target members of the city’s Black community?
After a national controversy erupted over Newburgh’s welfare rules, the city found itself at the center of a policy fight that’s still playing out today. It’s a moment in history when the belief that certain people need to be forced to work expanded its influence in our country’s system to help poor people.
Producer Peter Balonon-Rosen takes us back to Newburgh to retrace its war on welfare and examines how race became central to a battle over welfare policy.
Public and academic historians came together for a virtual roundtable discussion about ChatGPT A.I. and its implications on the history fields. Hosted by History Communication Institute, Explorers of the International Federation for Public History and the Office of the Orange County (NY) Historian.
BY OLIVIA LEACH, GOSHEN
PUBLISHED 6:20 PM ET SEP. 29, 2022
Every year on Sept. 29, military veterans join local officials to mark “Orange County Veterans Memorial Day.”
It’s a day to remember 40 American servicemen who lost their lives during a single day in World War I.
All the soldiers were from Orange County, part of the 107th Regiment of the 27th Division.
Since Vietnam veteran David McTamaney was 10 years old, their stories have had an impact on his life. "As I learned just what they went through that terrible day, I felt this was not something that we need to forget," said McTamaney.
What You Need To Know
"These men knew each other, loved each other, fought side by side, and died side by side," said McTamaney.
They lost their lives fighting on the front-lines of the Battle of the Hindenburg Line in Northern France. The battle was influential in helping the U.S. and the allies win World War I.
McTamaney was part of a group of Orange County residents who traveled to France and had the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the 40 men exactly 100 years after their death.
"I was able to go to the exact spot that John T. Kenney, which was one of those 40 names, that he was killed," said McTamaney.
The day is also a chance to reflect on all of the men and women from Orange County who’ve sacrificed for the country’s freedom over the years. Like the men of the all-Black 369th Regiment who served 191 days on the front-lines, commonly known as the "Harlem Hellfighters," many of whom were recruited in Newburgh and Middletown.
"Such an opportunity to serve would afford them a sort of reason to prove themselves and their people as worthy of full and equal citizenship," said Dr. Jeffrey Sammons, a history professor at New York University.
McTamaney thinks about all the young men and women who’ve left their lives in Orange County to venture into the unknown, all out of love for country.
"The sacrifice that they put in without asking a question, they did it for America. We need to understand that’s what made us who we are," he said.
LINK to Spectrum News for the Video
Urban Archaeology Corps of the Northeast Archaeological Resources Program of the National Parks Service Tour
Clip about the topic of the fate of the William Seward statue in Alaska State Capitol with call-in from descendant David Fitzgerald.
Orange Country Historian, Johanna Yaun discusses the history of Newburgh architecture through the lens of the collaboration and friendship of Andrew Jackson Downing and Calvert Vaux. The lecture took place within the shell of the William A. M. Culbert House (a Downing and Vaux designed home) at the site of Martin Roth's art installation “From 2017-2021 Martin Roth transformed a ruin into a garden for a plant concert.”
Clip of a discussion regarding the history of the County House (Orange Farms) presented by the Orange County Historian Johanna Yaun at the Valley View Advisory Committee July 20, 2021, 2 30 PM - 3 30 PM @ Government Center in Goshen.
On April 9, 2021 friends and family of Dr. David Schuyler gathered at Downing Park in Newburgh to honor his life and work with a memorial tree planting.
"I wasn't made for the great light that devours; a dim lamp was all I had been given, and patience without end to shine it on the empty shadows."