Wednesday, December 2, 2015

New York, New York

V is for Vachon:   For over two hundred years, the body of this Revolutionary War solder has lain in the churchyard of St. Paul's Chapel in Lower Manhattan. What makes his grave interesting is the mixture of languages on his headstone.  French and English are both there: His last name is clearly French (from vache, meaning cow) but his first name is clearly anglicized from François. Here's proof that New York was already one of the world's commercial hubs, whose fortunes are always built on diverse cultural geographies. In fact, Mr. Vachon's French language may have served him well in the corridors of commerce along the waterfront. In some small way, his life contributed to the triumph of New York over Philadelphia as the nation's largest city. St. Paul's Churchyard. [2014]

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