Chautauqua Institution: “The Most American Thing in America”

Falconer Electronics is located in the southwestern corner of New York State.  We call Chautauqua County home which is also the birthplace of the National Historic Landmark, Chautauqua Institution. Chautauqua Institution is a 750 acre community on Chautauqua Lake that attracts 100,000 visitors each summer who explore spirituality, philosophy, cultural vitality and the arts.

President Theodore Roosevelt, a repeat visitor once called Chautauqua Institution: “the most American thing in America“.

Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua Institution: “The Most American Thing in America”

The mission of Chautauqua Institution (or as locals call it, CHQ):

CHQ is dedicated to the exploration of the best in human values and the enrichment of life through a program that explores the important religious, social and political issues of our times; stimulates provocative, thoughtful involvement of individuals and families in creative response to such issues; and promotes excellence and creativity in the appreciation, performance and teaching of the arts.

The Chautauqua Institution summer season typically runs from the last week of June through the last week of August. For example, the 2018 season spans from June 23 – August 26. Each summer season celebrates four program areas: The Arts, Religion, Education and Recreation.

A summer at Chautauqua is loaded with lectures, concerts, religious services and as well as amazing displays of literary and performing arts. Chautauqua Institution attracts world class talent that perform ballet, theater, opera, symphony and dance. Click here to check out this season’s exciting events.

Chautauqua Institution Humble Beginnings

Chautauqua Institution sets on the shores of beautiful Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York State. The Institution was originally called the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly. It was founded in 1874 as an educational experiment in out-of-school, vacation learning by industrialist Lewis Miller and Methodist Bishop John Heyl Vincent. Hence, a place where spirituality meets continuing education.

“The original scheme was a Christian educational resort . . . [where] pleasure, science, and all friends of true culture should go side by side with true religion.”

Lewis Miller was a hugely successful inventor and entrepreneur as well as a generous philanthropist. Miller was also the father of Mina Miller.

Who is Mina Miller you ask? Mina Miller became Mina Miller Edison when she married Thomas Edison at the age of 20 in 1885.

Making this connection was particularly exciting for our team here at Falconer Electronics. Especially since we discovered the greatest inventor of electronics had established roots to our community by marrying the dynamic Mina Miller (we have much more exciting information on Mina in upcoming blog posts).

U.S. Presidents at Chautauqua Institution 

Many political leaders have spent time at Chautauqua over the years. For example, four U.S. Presidents have visited Chautauqua Institution while in office since its founding in 1874: Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Bill Clinton.

Ulysses S. Grant Visits in 1875

President Grant was invited to Chautauqua Institution one year after being founded. The intention was to invite a high profile guest to promote the newly christened “New York Chautauqua Assembly”.  Chautauqua Institution co-founder Methodist Bishop John Heyl Vincent, served as President Grant’s pastor in Illinois prior to either man reaching fame. Therefore, Grant gladly accepted the invite in August 1975.

Theodore Roosevelt – The Rough Rider 

President Theodore Roosevelt visited Chautauqua 3 times in the 1890’s as well as once again in 1905. For example, the Rough Rider shared his exploits at San Juan Hill in 1899. Local community leader, Randy Sweeney reads experts from that speech in the video below:

FDR “I Hate War” Speech 

President Roosevelt delivers his famous “I Hate War” speech at Chautauqua Institution on August 14, 1936. However, the world was already spiraling towards the devastation of a world war. Our friend, Jonathan Schmitz, the Chautauqua Institution archivist offers insight on FDR’s famous speech on the 75th anniversary.

Furthermore, here is the actual speech by FDR:

President Bill Clinton in 1996 

President Bill Clinton visited Chautauqua in 1996 during preparations for his debate with presidential candidate Bob Dole (see video below). Clinton conducted mock debates against former Sen. George Mitchell who Clinton joked that he was “badly beaten” during these preparations.

Clinton also visited Chautauqua Institution prior in 1992 while campaigning against President Bush.  Spending time in Chautauqua certainly brought good luck with Clinton winning both elections.

Let’s Connect

Thank you for reading our post on Chautauqua Institution. This continues our series on the Thomas Edison Family. Check out our previous blogs on Thomas Edison.

Wrapping It Up

Lastly, Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

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