NH citizens say no to renaming Mount Washington - 787 citizens, 1810 responses

Sep 01, 2015

In August 2015,  President Obama announced that the Department of the Interior had decided to answer requests by Alaska lawmakers to change the name of Mt. McKinley to Denali, the Native American name for the peak. Following the decision, the Live Free or Die Alliance asked Facebook members to weigh in on whether such a change would be appropriate in New Hampshire, posing the question, “Should Mt. Washington be renamed?”

A total of 67% of respondents answered the question directly or with a concurrence, and of these a 92% majority were opposed to renaming Mt. Washington with only 8% in favor. Of the remaining respondents, a higher-than-average 22% opted to discuss the subject in broader terms while 11% commented on unrelated issues. In sum, 787 citizens participated in the discussion with a total of 1810 responses. 

Those opposed to a change argued that there was no call for it in New Hampshire. “No one wants to rename this mountain,” one commenter said. “Residents actually call it Mt. Washington, unlike  Mt. McKinley,” another pointed out. “The early names should be remembered and respected, but change the name, never!” a respondent wrote. 

Supporters countered that a change to the mountain’s Native American name, Agiocochook, would not be disrespecting the state’s history. “I was told as a child that I was part Blackfoot Indian, and this is a great way to celebrate that heritage,” one commenter said. “Sure, change it back to honor the natives who named it first,” a respondent wrote. “We destroyed the history of the first people by renaming their monuments,” a poster argued. 

Many of those addressing their comments to broader issues instead debated the Denali name change or discussed the Obama administration in general. “This change came because the locals, the people of Alaska, wanted it,” one commenter wrote. “Why can’t we recognize both names?” another asked. 

Click here to read the full Facebook discussion of this question. 


Claude Roessiger
- Wolfeboro

Fri, 10/02/2015 - 4:56pm

I noted in the most recent e-mail the question whether Mount Washington should be renamed, and the upon reflection very silly rationale given by the individual who suggested that as George Washington was a slave-owner, his name deserves—presumably it is that person’s view—to be deleted from history. There are so many things wrong with this position that one could declare it nihilistic. It is what ISIS does when they destroy all the glorious temples of Syria’s ancient history on the basis that these temples offend a tenet of ISIS’s faith, or what the Khmer Rouge did when they vandalized the world heritage site of Angkor Wat, or destroyed the great Buddha. It is the abnegation of our entire human heritage in the pursuit of some metallic brave new world, where everything is newly fashioned and anodyne, where no room remains for our humanity. If we fail to see the past within the context of the times, we shall lose everything. On the matter of slavery, as much as we disdain it today, we ought to recognize that in Washington’s time slavery was legal, indeed protected by the laws under which he and his generation lived, and we ought to recognize that if we are to delete all slave-owners from history, or serf owners, or indentured servant masters, we shall have virtually no one left. And, what will be next? The deletion of all sexists, presumably being, by those of the advocate’s persuasion, every male born before 1850 or perhaps even 1950? Once we apply such retroactive standards we can bid farewell to all that is in our past and in our heritage, and that will include the Bible. Such thinking is wrong headed, and its advocates inevitably use the most provocative examples to excite the unknowing. For example, we read today how Thomas Jefferson “abused his slave Sally Hemmings, and used her sexually.” Well, not so fast. It will help the reader to know that Sally Hemmings was Jefferson’s sister-in-law, the half-sister of his beloved wife, who had died and left him grief-stricken. It was said that Sally greatly resembled her half-sister Martha, and no doubt it will also surprise many readers to know that Sally Hemmings was, as can happen to the issue of one black and one white parent, white. Finally, we should know that Jefferson brought Sally to him in Paris, with her brother, where both were free upon setting foot on French soil, where slavery was already illegal. Her brother remained in France, but she followed Jefferson back to the United States, and became by the laws of the time his slave again, but only after having secured from Jefferson the promise that he would free any children they might have between them. He did so. It isn’t quite the story that those who would delete Jefferson, the author of one of the greatest documents of all human history, would have us believe. It is time to firmly reject the purpose of the nihilists who would replace durable and precious values from our past with the most uncertain chatter and personages of the moment.

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