ESL Podcast Home ESL Podcast Store
HOME > BLOG > For Sale: A Slice of American History

For Sale: A Slice of American History

_71279959_book_comp_624gettyHappy Thanksgiving! I want to echo (repeat) what Lucy wrote Tuesday and say how thankful I am for all of you who are a part of the great ESL Podcast family.

This year, while many in the U.S. were thinking about slices (a piece of food cut from a larger piece) of Thanksgiving turkey and pumpkin pie, a small slice (piece) of early American history was sold for millions of dollars.

The Pilgrims – who celebrated the “First Thanksgiving” in America – came from England in 1620. The Puritans, a similar group, followed them in 1630. Both groups were very religious (believed in God) and believed in personal religious freedom and responsibility (doing what is right). They were both dissatisfied with the Church of England, which was the official and only church in England at that time, so they left England and came to America.

Singing was an important part of Puritan worship (praying and singing together to show respect for God). And the Puritans wanted a new translation of the Book of Psalms (songs or poems used in Jewish and Christian worship) to use. Thirty religious leaders translated the psalms from Hebrew, their original language, into English verse (with lines like a song). And in 1640, 1700 copies of the Bay Psalm Book were printed.

Tuesday, one of the original (first or earliest) Bay Psalm Books was sold for more than 14 million dollars, the most anyone has ever paid for a printed book. It was sold to an American businessman and philanthropist (wealthy person who gives money to help other people) who plans to loan it to libraries around the U.S. so many people can see it.

Why would someone pay so much for one of these little books? What is so significant (great or important) about it? There are several answers. First, it was the first book printed in America. And it’s rare – only eleven copies have survived (continue to exist).

David Redden, who organized the sale, says the Bay Psalm Book is significant for another reason. He says it reminds us how independent (not controlled by someone else) the early colonists were. They left their homes in England, came to America, set up (organized) their own society (organized group of people) with their own religious practices, and later – in 1776 – declared (stated) their independence from England and created a new country.

The Bay Psalm Book was sold by the Old South Church in Boston to help pay the church’s expenses. The church owned two copies of the Psalm Book, so members of the church decided it would be okay to sell one of them.

Old South played an important part in (influenced, had an effect on) American history. Benjamin Franklin’s family were members of the church. And so was Samuel Adams. Both men were important early American leaders. Many of the early leaders met at the church to plan activities, like the Boston Tea Party, that helped America become independent.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL tutor/coach and creator of the Successful English web site.

Photo of the Bay Psalm Book courtesy of the BBC

15 Responses to “For Sale: A Slice of American History”

  1. Dan Says:

    Thanks Warren

    I heard about that book before a few months ago listening to the radio.

    Then the other day it was out for an auction, I think.

    Hey, I never told you that as a job I am in the field of book printing.

    I get the white paper, and under my watch parts of the book get out of the printing press.

    Think that when I started out back in the 80s we still had lead fonts.

    Today it’s totally different from back then.

    Hey, if the book is the one in the photo, it looks in great shape! after 370 years.
    *****************************************************************
    Happy birthday Emiliano

    Thanks

  2. emiliano Says:

    Thanksgiving to you and your family dear Warren as you are always in my toughts too, despite we don´t celebrate
    this holiday at my country some how I use to think about all of you american friends knowing it is a very important
    feast where families in USA like to be together just to celebrate it among relatives sometime far away home.

    It is very interesting subject what you write about as history it is one of my best themes to know about, even knowing
    the story of those first pilgrims who went to the colonies because they wanted to be off from religious persecution
    in England and other parts of Europe, France, Germany, Denmark and so forth, I didn´t know anything about this
    Psalm Book, so you have given us a nice gift in thanksgiven feast, at least it has been for me and Cuca as I am telling
    her the psalm history of this book in relation with the first puritams pilgrims who went to your country.

    Thanks so much dear Warren and have my best wishes to you just in this so important day.

    Cuca and emiliano

  3. Alan A. Santos Says:

    Hey, happy thanksgiving for all of you guys, it is a pity that here in brazil we don t celebrate it.
    God bless you from eslpodcast.

    From somewhere in bahia, brazil ;) :)

  4. Øyvor Says:

    Happy Thanksgiving=) And thanks a lot for your interesting topic, as always!

    Some item are very special..like this book. I`ve read a lot about why people had to go “over there”, to where they went and settled..

    I didn`t know that Thanksgiving is celebrated on a diferent day in Cananda, have to google it=)

    My best wishes for you and all ESLpod members=)

  5. Myo ko ko Says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Warren

    What will you be doing on that particular holiday, I just wonder?
    We don’t celebrate this tradition. So I don’t know what that day looks like in your country.
    Needless to say, there would be some parades and lots of turkeys.
    And also, I’ve to confess that I’ve never tasted a slice of turkey’s meat.
    Hope, I get the chance to relish that creature’s flesh someday. No doubt it’s delicious!

    Warren
    Do you also have this family union with extensive and immediate family on this special free day?
    You know, there’s no place like home.
    Now I’m away from my family. Sometimes I get homesick and miss my dad and mom.

    Although this Thanksgiving day isn’t one of our customs here, I notice that it usually falls on the last Thursday of November.
    And I think this Friday day that follows Thanksgiving is “Black Friday” when you guys have your wallets being emptied!
    It is also funny to get to know that this “Thanksgiving” day was called ” Franksgiving” day for three years.

    Warren,
    Reading about Thanksgiving, Black Friday and X’mas shopping, I get the another term: “Grey Thursday.”

    Wow,
    adding this Cyber Monday, you guys’ve got lots of days for shopping.
    I could see those big retailers and shops vying each other with special offers to entice shoppers.

    Enjoy shopping, Warren!

    Myo ko ko

  6. Warren Ediger Says:

    My Thanksgiving – Part of our family, about ten people, met at our house for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner yesterday (everything was delicious!). Everybody brought something, so one person didn’t have to do all the work. We ate around 1 pm, and after we ate, we sat around and talked until early evening, for five or six hours! Later in the afternoon we always put out leftovers (food that isn’t eaten at the main meal), and when anyone gets hungry, they go help themselves to some of the leftovers.

    For a couple of family members this has been a difficult year, but we are all very thankful to be part of a good family.

    No shopping today – Black Friday! Or Cyber Monday. Gray Thursday was a disappointing surprise to me this year. Usually almost all businesses are closed on Thanksgiving Day, but some opening during the day – mostly in the afternoon – so they could get some extra business.

    Warren

  7. emiliano Says:

    Leftover ?

    A new word for me, it is great, thanks Warren I could imagine your family
    sitting around in the garden or the yard talking, it is a nice picture.

    Here leftover it is translated as “las sobras” and they have nice taste to eat
    them next day or at night.

    Today has been my bithday and we had a nice gook meal at home all
    together, Cuca, Isabel, Camila, Alicia, The Cat, and Emiliano.
    Isabel cooked a great nice dinner, Peruvian dishes that she knows so
    well.
    Incredible good meal after being so bad, Camila is recovering from a
    tumor and Emiliano is off his last year depression.

    The close friend from the Bank, Camila/Emiliano together having a good
    meal with our couples as we have before. for so many times.

    Yes, life is good and God is better, He gaves us more time to live.
    Oh My God, thaks very much.

    See you. emiliano

  8. emiliano Says:

    Sorry all, sorry Warren, letters are so small that I could not see the mistakes as I am
    writing without seeing what I write.

    Just the same once and again, sorry again.

  9. Myo ko ko Says:

    So much thanks, Warren, for sharing some rejoicing you’ve had with some of your relatives on Thanksgiving day.

    You know, it’s always a pleasure for us to get to know about our beloved teachers’ personal lives, about their daily-life events.
    They mean a lot to us.

    I feel lucky to have met good English teachers like you, Jeff, and Lucy.
    It’d be luckier than that if I get this chance of seeing all my three teachers in person and say my heartfelt “Thank You.”
    Of course, every one of ESL friends here has the same feeling like I do, I think.

    Yours
    Myo ko ko

  10. Betty Says:

    Thank you Dear Warren, thank you for feeding us with “Good English”.

    I don’t have time to write because I must sort out lots of things in this house before I go back to Hong Kong. But I want to say thank you first before I go to prune the trees. I am thinking of removing one of the trees which the house developer planted at the corner of the house. It is so close to the foundation of the house that I am worried it will damage the foundation of the house. Lots of work to do but I must say my thanks here first, mustn’t I?

    Sorry to hear that it has been a difficult year for a couple of your family members, please convey our sincere good wishes to them. Life will get better everyday.

    Time for me to go to sort out the plants before sun goes down.

    Many thanks again.

    Betty :)

  11. Myo ko ko Says:

    Hi, Betty
    Don’t be elusive!
    Give us a firm excuse why you didn’t show up here on this Jeff’s and Lucy’s blog lately!
    Don’t claim you are getting hectic day after day. ( Do you think we all here are 24-hour free?)
    Don’t make an excuse that because you get older!
    Forget it! Your friend, emiliano, is still dropping lines here!
    Please tell us here the reason why you don’t put down your notes here like you did in the past.
    I feel you’re getting away from this lovely place day to day!
    Don’t pretend you ain’t. Surely you are, I get this sense!

    Don’t you know that a line or two from you is good enough for all of us?
    I’m NOT forcing you to write here a lot.
    I’m just saying you of being elusive.

    Betty, come on and out here and back your claim up in a straight way.

    We all here are getting ready to hear from you! ;)

    Get straight, my senior, please!

    Yours
    Myo ko ko

  12. Dan Says:

    Hey Myo ko ko

    Well said, we enjoy better knowing our teachers, of course in the right measure.

    What about you? you seem to be rather stingy about that. Is there a particular reason for that, or you just do not want to give out personal information
    like your age..do you remember?

    I would like to know your thoughts on that, I mean, revealing to the “world” something about us.

    I understand that for some of us living in certain countries it is better to stay, say, low.

    Is that your case?

    Thanks

  13. Genji Says:

    Thanks Jeff,Lucy and Warren for picking up interesting stories for us. arigatou.

  14. emiliano Says:

    Thank you Dan, it was a nice day shared with the people I love but also with my dear Gatufo.

    Why we don´t say something about us our life, our thoughts, our dreams from time to time?.
    It could be a nice good way to know each other better, I do think it is a Dan´s nice idea to
    do.
    Why not?.

    You do know just a lot about emiliano´s life, thoughts, poems, and opinions, and what about
    you my friends?.

    As Dan said, go ahead don´t be so shy.
    How can we know about our dear teacher Lucy if we don´t know anything about us?

    Thanks Dan, I do think it is a very good idea what you said.

    emiliano

  15. Betty Says:

    You are so friendly and funny, Myo Ko Ko.

    Remember you didn’t show up for a long time last time?

    What was your reason? We thought you wanted to tell us you were ill. And then we found that you finished off your message with a joke that day.

    Everyone has their moment of laziness, I am no exception.

    I was lazy. That’s it, I was lazy. That’s all.

    Even someone so lazy like me will drop a line here because of your invitation, I hope many more readers/learners will drop a line here as well.

    Don’t be lazy like me, write something so that our teachers can get to know us better.

    Can I go now, Myo Ko Ko? I have done very well writing a lot these two days.

    By the way, if you miss your parents, why don’t you go and see them? I think they miss you as well.

    All the best wishes to you.

    Betty ;)