The French Connection

Rakehells, men of good will, adventurers, and bunglers were all in the glittering pageant when the Old World came to help out the New

Two great historic figures, men who have merged into myth, are almost the sole remains of the alliance between France and the revolutionary forces of America—Lafayette and Benjamin Franklin. And like most myths time has changed them, clothing the reality in a web of romance. The young Marquis de Lafayette, plunging ashore on North Island, South Carolina, is seen as the personification of those forces in France that yearned for liberty, for freedom from the oppressive hierarchical regime of an absolutist monarchy.Read more »

Mary Cassatt

“I do not admit that a woman can draw like that,” said Degas when he saw one of her pictures

At eight o’clock on the evening of June 14, 1926, a very old woman—blind and suffering from advanced diabetes—died in her chateau on the edge of the tiny village of Mesnil-Theribus, some thirty miles northwest of Paris. At her funeral, because she held the Legion of Honor, there was a detail of soldiers, and because she was chatelaine of the manor house, the village band played and most of the townspeople followed her coffin to the cemetery. There was nothing extraordinary in this; it is a not uncommon ritual in the villages of France.Read more »

Science, Learning, And The Claims Of Nationalism

We have come a long way from the philosophy of the Enlightenment...a shift that represents a retreat rather than an advance, argues the noted historian.

We think of our own time as an Age of Enlightenment, but it flouts and even repudiates two essential principles of the Enlightenment: first the priority of the claims of science and culture over those of politics, and second the cosmopolitan and even universal nature of science and culture. Read more »

An American In Paris

Faced with war, famine, and bloody revolution, a political wheel horse turned into a first-class ambassador.

“On the 10th day of September, 1877, I left Paris for home, going to Havre and then taking the steamer to pass over to Southampton where I was to take the German steamer for New York. After a reasonably good passage to New York we reached what was thereafter to be our home at Chicago, on the 23rd of September, 1877. It was on the 17th day of March, 1869, that … Mr.Read more »

How Papa Liberated Paris

An eyewitness re-creates the wonderful, wacky day in August, 1944, when Hemingway, a handful of Americans, and a senorita named Elena helped rekindle the City of Light. Champagne ran in rivers, and the squeals inside the tanks were not from grit in the bogie wheels

From the war there is one story above others dear to my heart of which I have never written a line—the loony liberation of Paris.

There are reasons for this restraint: a promise once made; the unimportance of trying to be earnest about that which is ludicrous; the vanity of the hope that fact may ever overtake fiction; and the blight of the passing years on faded notes.

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How Wilbur Wright Taught Europe To Fly

Most Americans know that Wilbur and Orville Wright were the first to fly a powered airplane; a few know that they were the first to build a practical powered airplane; but almost no one in the United States seems to know that these remarkable brothers not only inspired Europeans to revive their all-but-moribund ambition to fly, but, in 1908, revolutionized European aviation when the French had been floundering incH’ectually in the field ol aviation lor six long years.

 
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“We Shall Eat Apples Of Paradise…"

When Benjamin Franklin came home from France in diplomatic triumph, he left behind a lovely, highborn lady mourning the miles between them.

You combine with the best heart, when you wish, the soundest moral teaching, a lively imagination, and that droll roguishness which shows that the wisest of men allows his wisdom to be perpetually broken against the rocks of femininity.” It is not Ben Franklin the essayist or philomath or pamphleteer that Madame d’Hardancourt Brillon de Jouy is here praising, though in these areas his accomplishment had been substantial, but Franklin the letter writer.

Where Ignorant Armies Clashed By Night

In the summer of 1918, with Russia removed from World War I as a result of the Bolshevik Revolution, the United States sent troops into Russia at two points. It did so only after the greatest soul-searching on the part of President Wilson, who had said that “the treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations … will be the acid test of their good will …” Two factors influenced the decision. In the Far East, Japan had made a move to occupy Siberia, apparently threatening America’s “open door” policy for China. In North Russia, English and French leaders had hopes of reviving the eastern front against Germany. In addition, large stores of Allied war supplies had been left at the port of Archangel. The expedition to North Russia resulted in fierce combat between American and Soviet soldiers and throws significant light on the forty years of difficult relations between the United States and the Soviet Union that were to follow.