Building a National Historical Park
The guns had barely fallen silent at Saratoga when the first visitors to the battle sites arrived. Momentous events happened here along the banks of the Hudson River in 1777: a decisive American military victory kept alive the hopes and dreams of liberty for a new nation born in the turmoil of a Revolutionary War; dangerous ideals of freedom were placed squarely before people world-wide. With such credentials, it is no surprise that the battlefield has attracted interest of politicians, generals, scholars and everyday visitors from all over the world.
Having spent the summer and autumn of 1777 dealing with British forces in the mid-Atlantic states, it was no surprise that General George Washington would wish to see the site of the Saratoga battles. Washington visited the battlefield at Saratoga when he came to the area as a guest of General Philip Schuyler in1783. Future presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison followed him, and the former president John Quincy Adams spent a day visiting while staying in Saratoga Springs in 1843.
Through the 19th and early 20th centuries, different individuals and organizations attempted to preserve the memory of the events of 1777. The Saratoga Monument was completed in the Village of Victory in 1882, commemorating the campaign and American triumph. Nineteen twenty six, with the sesquicentennial of the Battles approaching, saw the preservation of the Saratoga Battlefield under the aegis of New York State. The following year, over 160,000 people visited the newly established park. They viewed great pageant with a cast of thousands held on the fields in Stillwater and visited the 1777 home of John Neilson and a newly constructed “Blockhouse” museum.
With improved roads, and a staff of guides at the museum, Saratoga Battlefield became a popular site to visit. National figures such as Admiral Richard E. Byrd, foreign dignitaries and descendants of many who fought at Saratoga, visited over the years. One particularly interested visitor was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Governor of New York State and later, President. During his term as governor, Roosevelt conducted guided tours for governors of five states that were his guests in New York.
Visitors can learn more about the park by visiting www.nps.gov/sara.
The preceding information was provided by the staff at the Saratoga National Historical Park.