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Gov. Chris Sununu Visits American Independence Museum

Gov. Chris Sununu Visits American Independence Museum

Reprinted from Seacoast Media Online – August 2, 2017

EXETER — Gov. Chris Sununu was given a “welcome home” at the American Independence Museum on Wednesday afternoon, as the museum was once the governor’s mansion in the late 1700s when John Taylor Gilman held the esteemed position.

Sununu and members of the Executive Council received a personal tour of the museum and its grounds from Executive Director Emma Bray. The tour followed a breakfast meeting at the Hampton Beach Pavilion where the American Independence Museum and Society of the Cincinnati of New Hampshire were given proclamations of service from the state. The Society of the Cincinnati of New Hampshire, a nonprofit organization, founded the museum in 1991.

The state proclamation commended the American Independence Museum for “unwavering dedication to sharing New Hampshire’s heritage.”

“We’re really excited to have them all here,” said Bray, who has been the museum’s director since March. “Obviously not only as a small museum to host them, but one that has such a direct connection to the New Hampshire government, to governors, to how our state was founded. That’s such a strong connection. A lot of our mission is connecting the past to the present and that’s exactly what we’re doing for the governor and the Executive Council today, which is wonderful.”

Sununu and the Executive Council paid close attention to the Dunlap Broadside, one of the first-ever published copies of the Declaration of Independence in custody of the museum.

Bray shared the significance of the Gilman family and their deep connection to Granite State government. Sununu and Executive Council members ducked their heads in small doorways passing through each room housing colonial artifacts and documents.

To end the tour, Bray brought the group down to the Folsom Tavern. The museum will host ‘A Beer for History’ events in the tavern beginning this month, with a different local brewer showcased each time.

Sununu, a Newfields resident, said he’d been to the museum before with his children.

“I love it,” he said. “I’m a history nut.” Sununu noted his favorite historical figure is Paul Revere.

“The fact that George Washington ate here, the fact that these buildings are so well-cared for,” he said. “It’s still in incredible shape. You learn about the Treasury, you learn about the people, you can see the actual signatures of these individuals. In New Hampshire, you can really see it, touch it, feel it. In other parts of the country you hear about this stuff and see pictures in books, but here you can physically touch it. To be like, ‘This could very well be the table Washington was eating at,’ and you’re standing right next to it.”

Sununu said destinations of interest in the state like the American Independence Museum are something his administration is trying to highlight.

“We really try to put an emphasis on cultural resources,” Sununu said. “We’ve put our cultural and natural resources together. I’m a big believer in the term we use ‘the creative economy.’ It’s everything from artisans to our natural resources to the culture and rich history we have, and selling that. That’s our asset. That’s one of the things that makes New Hampshire so special. By going out and promoting it and selling it and letting people know things like this are right here in our backyard, it’s just a way to drive tourism, drive dollars into the economy and make an appreciation for what makes the ‘live free or die’ state so special.”

District 3 Executive Councilor Russell Prescott said it was his proposition to bring the traveling summer Executive Council meeting to the American Independence Museum.

“I’m honored to be here,” Prescott said. “It’s a chance to focus on the uniqueness of Exeter.” Prescott, who is a museum ambassador himself, grew up in Exeter, he said.

Prescott thanked Bray for her organization of the tour and taking the time to show the governor and Executive Council members the crucial state resource that is the museum.

Want to be a Re-Enactor?

Recently, our own Mike Welch provided some tips and analysis on all things related to re-enacting in our Lunch and Learn Series, which is presented by People’s United Bank, who share in our commitment to educating the community and providing enrichment opportunities for all. Thanks to EXTV for filming and sharing this lecture.

People’s United Bank to present Educational Lecture Series

Education and community are very important to the American Independence Museum, which are values shared by People’s United Bank and the reason behind their recent $1,000 financial contribution to support its Educational Lecture Series.

Comprised of both “Lunch and Learn” and “Evening Tavern” Talks, the series features renowned historians and authors as they discuss unique topics that shed light on lesser known aspects of American history. The next talk in the free series (8/16) is “Collecting John Paul Jones: America’s First Action Hero,” presented by J. Dennis Robinson.

“Everyone knows his name, but few know the true story behind John Paul Jones,” said Events Manager Victoria Su. “What’s interesting is that America first rejected him, but then used his name and image to sell everything from whiskey and cigarettes and women’s clothing. His name and image were even used to recruit for the U.S. Navy.”

In commenting on why People’s United Bank elected to support the remaining lectures in the series, Marc Ouellette, Vice President and Senior Market Manager, cited their intent.

“Education is very important to us,” said Ouellette, who will provide prefatory remarks at each talk. “While our expertise is in financial education, education in its purest sense enhances a community and the lives of its residents…We believe in the museum and its overarching mission to inspire civic engagement.”

Expressing gratitude at the partnership with People’s United Bank, museum Executive Director Emma Bray said the series has been designed to engage people of all ages.

“These are short, informative, engaging talks,” she added. “We are really grateful to work with People’s United Bank to present the rest of this series.”

Remaining talks include: “When Shipping Was King: The Piscataqua Region in Colonial America” on September 21; “Secrets of the American Independence Museum: Collection Close-Up” on November 7; and “Your Most Important Role in a Democracy: Thinking for Yourself” on November 16.

Due to limited space, email vsu@independencemuseum.org to pre-register for a seat. There is no cost to attend these lectures.