A Postage Stamp History Of The U.S. In The Twentieth Century

Here is the federal government’s own picture history of our times—and it tells us more than you might think

FEW ARE AWARE of a major publishing project that has been sponsored by the federal government and some of our leading citizens over the past eight decades. It is a lavishly illustrated history of the United States in our times and it comes in parts—on postage stamps, to be precise. The story it tells may say as much about how we see ourselves as about what we’ve done since 1900. Read more »

What If?

Conjectural or speculative history can be a silly game, as in “What if the Roman legions had machine guns?” But this historian argues that to enlarge our knowledge and understanding it sometimes makes very good sense to ask …

What if any of the pre-Civil War Presidents had gone mad?

What if Andrew Johnson had been successfully impeached?

What if William McKinley had not been assassinated?

What if there had been no tape-recording system in Nixon’s White House? Read more »

Barnstorming The U.S. Mail

“GENERAL,” F.D.R. DEMANDED, “WHEN ARE THESE AIR MAIL KILLINGS GOING TO STOP?”

Flurries of wet snow camouflaged the runway of Cleveland airport in the early winter darkness. of Monday, February 19, 1934. Attended by a small group of chilled spectators and outlined by explosions of light from news cameras, a bulky figure in fleecelined flying suit, leather helmet, heavy boots, and furry gloves clambered into the open cockpit of a Boeing P -12 pursuit biplane. Lieutenant Charles R. Springer pulled down his goggles, fastened his seal belt, waved, and prepared to carry out his orders.Read more »

“old Peabo” And The School

In founding Groton, Endicott Peabody was sure that muscular Christianity would protect
boys from the perils of loaferism

One of the most illustrious of these benevolent despots was the Reverend Endicott Peabody, who founded Groton School in 1884 and served it with all his might and main for over half a century. By the time he finally turned over his task to younger hands in 1940, at the age of eighty-three, he had become an American version of the legendary Dr. Arnold of Rugby. And his zealously guarded little kingdom of several hundred sylvan acres, some forty miles northwest of Boston, had achieved national renown as a preserve of wealth and privilege. Read more »

Incident In Miami

On a warm Florida evening in 1933 a madman with a pistol and a personality profile now all too familiar—“unskilled, unfriendly, unmoneyed, and unwell”—came within inches of altering the course of American history in one of its most critical moments

The sun had gone down on a warm Florida winter day (it was seven in the evening of February 15, 1933) when Vincent Astor’s Nourmahal tied up at a Miami dock after twelve days of cruising through the Bahamas.Read more »

Sorry No Gas

How Americans Met the First Great Gasoline Crisis—Nearly Forty Years Ago

According to the members of the blueribbon committee, the situation was desperate. Their report, released to the Washington press corps, had been blunt, unsparing, and apocalyptic. “We find the existing situation to be so dangerous,” it warned, “that unless corrective measures are taken immediately this country will face both a military and civilian collapse.” The committee proposed to counter the dire threat by the imposition of nationwide gasoline rationing. Read more »

What We Got For What We Gave

The American Experience With Foreign Aid

Imagine a person of great wealth with a habit of giving away vast sums and lending more. In order to understand his character, we should examine how the money is dispensed and why. Who are the recipients? What does the donor expect of them in return? How does he react if his expectations are not fulfilled? By asking the same questions of a wealthy and seemingly generous government, we can acquire a similar insight into its character. Read more »

Samuel Eliot Morison Award

to Joseph P. Lash for Roosevelt and Churchill, 1939–1941: The Partnership That Saved the West

If Joseph P. Lash had decided, back in 1942, to write a book on the wartime friendship between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, he would have been off to a lucky start. He happened to be a guest at the White House on the occasion of the British leader’s first transatlantic visit after Pearl Harbor, and found himself seated next to the famous man at lunch. Read more »

George Washington Carver And The Peanut

New Light on a Much-Loved Myth

The election of a peanut-growing President has evoked much journalistic analysis of his rural Southern roots.Read more »

The Controversial World Of

The Regulatory Agencies

Nobody, it seems, is happy with the regulatory agencies. U.S. News and World Repart runs a cover story entitled “The ‘Regulators’—They Cost you $130 Billion a Year.” Consumer advocate Ralph Nader and his “Raiders” produce numerous books attacking the agencies as captives of supposedly regulated interests.Read more »