The First Hurrah

Presidential candidates stayed above the battle until William Jennings Bryan stumped the nation in 1896; they’ve been in the thick of it ever since

The most confident prediction that can be made about the 1980 presidential campaign is that the nominees will invest enormous energy, time, and money in stumping the country.Read more »

Pistols For Two … Coffee For One

“It is astonishing that the murderous practice of Benjamin Franklin. Yet continue it did, duelling should continue so long in vogue,” said often with peculiarly American variations

Few boys survive their school days without using their fists now and then. If these fights are extemporaneous affairs, fought in the immediate heat of anger, they are little more than animal reflex actions. But if they are of the “I’ll see you after school” variety, allowing time for rage to be replaced by trepidation, they become highly complex manifestations of human emotions and social pressures. By the time the young gladiators arrive on the field of combat, usually one or both of them would much prefer to be home watching television.Read more »

American Gothic

The revival in the nineteenth century of medieval motifs in architecture extended from villas and furniture to farmhouses and vineries

Many of the visitors who admire the classic calm of Monticello would be startled if they knew of the original intentions of Thomas Jefferson. In 1771, after he had begun work on the estate, he seriously contemplated building a battlemented tower on a neighboring mountain; and he also planned, though he did not actually erect, “a small Gothic temple of antique appearance” for the graves of his family and retainers. As usual, the master of Monticello was ahead of the times.Read more »

Memo To: Oliver Wendell Holmes From: The Friends Of Old Ironsides Subject: Help!

It was a bright day for the Republic, that afternoon of May 15, 1815, when the U.S.S. Constitution victoriously dropped anchor oil the Battery at New York. Of all the gala homecomings that Castle Clinton’s low brown walls would witness in the next century and a half, none would be charged with more patriotic fervor. Read more »

The Rise Of The Little Magician

Martin Van Buren, Andrew Jackson’s right-hand man, was a master of political intrigue who let nothing block his one unwavering ambition—the Presidency. But sometimes he was too smart for his own good

Early one spring evening in 1829, a brougham, handsomely carved and immaculately kept, jogged at a dignified pace down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the White House. Within was a solitary figure sitting with the pompous grace of a Hindu rajah. He was the new Secretary of State, Martin Van Buren of New York, just arrived after a hard journey from Albany through the wilderness and cities of the seaboard. Recollections of that journey made his solitude welcome. He had much to think about.

 
Read more »

Faces From The Past-V

“My lamp is nearly burned out,” he admitted, “and the last glimmer has come.” For the past two years not a day had passed when he was free of pain; one lung was gone, the other diseased; he was tormented alternately by dropsy and diarrhea, racked by chills and fever. He sat quietly in the armchair, saving himself, a wasted figure in an old-fashioned, snuff-colored coat with high stiff collar.

 

 
Read more »

How Vital Was Reid’s Victory?

Did the Battle of Fayal really have an impact on the Battle of New Orleans 3,000 miles away?

Historians disagree about how crucial the battle of Fayal was to Jackson’s victory at New Orleans. Those of the nineteenth century, among them Benson Lossing, generally agreed with Jackson’s sentiments, quoted at the beginning of Mr. Baker’s article. Among more recent writers who have taken the same point of view is the late Fletcher Pratt, who in The Compact History of the United States Navy wrote : Read more »

Exploit At Fayal

A lonely, gallant battle fought by the designer of our flag set the stage for Andrew Jackson's victory at New Orleans.

When Andrew Jackson and his triumphant army rode through the streets of New Orleans after crushing Sir Edward Pakenham’s veteran troops on January 8, 1815, neither Old Hickory nor his men realized how narrow their margin of victory had been.

The Marine Tradition

The Corps is supposed to be tough, and is. This often confounds its enemies and sometimes irritates the nation’s other services

The United States Marines are a very ancient fighting corps, covered with battle scars and proud of every one of them—so very proud, indeed, that they have developed an extremely high esprit de corps, which has been defined as a state of mind that leads its possessor to think himself vastly superior to members of all other military outfits.

Our Two Greatest Presidents

Without doubt they were Washington, who walked carefully within the Constitution, and Lincoln, who stretched it as far as he dared

The myth and the reality of American history seldom come within shouting distance of one another. What the average American believes and what the historians would like him to believe about, let us say, the first winter in Plymouth, or the Boston Massacre, or Mrs. Bixby’s five sons, are two quite different things.