Providence Rides a Storm

Had a tempest not thwarted his plans, George Washington might have lost the Revolution in the first major operation he commanded

That George Washington drove the British out of Boston in early March 1776 is known to almost every schoolboy who has studied the American Revolution, but a disturbing aspect of this crucial event is not recognized even by most of the experts. One may read biographies of Washington, and military histories of the Revolution, without coming on more than a stray hint. This omission has undoubtedly occurred because the story flies in the face of the traditional Washington legend.Read more »

“Washington At Monmouth”

Neglected for over half a century, Emanuel Leutze’s huge historical canvas hovered near oblivion. Then this magazine helped to rediscover

Last fall, when the December issue of AMERICAN HERITAGE was being prepared for the printer, the Editors looked into the career of Emanuel Leutze, painter of the famous "Washington Crossing the Delaware," which was featured in an article in that issue (“Why Washington Stood Up in the Boat”). One thing that struck us was a statement by Dr. Raymond L.Read more »

With Cornwallis At Yorktown

While the French fleet was preventing the evacuation of Cornwallis by sea, French and American troops laid siege to his land positions. Some idea of the rigors of that siege has come down to us in the diary of a German corporal named Stephan Popp. The document, recently found in the library of the Historical Society in Bayreuth, Germany, Stephan’s native town, has been translated by the Reverend Reinhart J. Pope of Racine, Wisconsin, the corporal’s great-great-great grandson, and edited by Merle Sinclair of Milwaukee.


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“Shall I Not Take Mine Ease In Mine Inn?”

To Falstaff’s question, early America gave an unequivocal answer. Its roadside taverns were the traveler’s refuge and the townsman’s club

The old saying about many an American inn, that “George Washington slept here,” is not necessarily so apocryphal as we sometimes assume. His campaigns kept him constantly on the move, and wherever he found himself, there was likely to be an inn nearby. On foot, on horseback, or even in a coach, a day’s journey was very short by our modern standards, and accommodations had to be available nearly everywhere. New Jersey alone, just after the Revolution, had 443 inns.

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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.

The Defeat, The Lesson, The Victory

By studying Braddock’ mistakes, Henry Bouquet outsmarted the Indians who tried the same tricks on him a few years later

West of Chestnut Ridge—the last impressive barrier of what was called the Endless Mountains—a fork of land was formed by the junction of two great rivers. From the north the Allegheny came tumbling down, swift and clear two centuries ago; and moving up from its source somewhere in the southern Appalachians was the Monongahela, a deep, still body of water. Where they met, the Ohio River was formed, receiving the flow of both streams and taking it west to the Mississippi, southward to the sea.

First In Toga, First In Sandals—


As Artemus Ward once put it, “Old George Washington’s forte was not to hev any public man of the present day resemble him to eny alarmin extent.”

Hats On For General Washington

Resigning his commission, the military hero joined Congress in acting out a strict protocol to symbolize the supremacy of civil government

It was my privilege some time ago to discuss the fundamentals of American government with President Eisenhower. The talk led to George Washington. Mr. Eisenhower said that, in his view, the great hour of Washington’s life came at Valley Forge where, militarily speaking, Washington achieved a miracle.

I doubt anyone will want to gainsay Mr. Eisenhower on a military opinion. On the other hand, civilians may turn their eyes on Washington’s civil career to see if they discern similar evidence of divine inspiration there. Read more »

The Writing Of History

An English Authority Compares British and American Viewpoints

As I write this, crowds of sidewalk superintendents are peering down at the foundations of a great new office building to be erected on a bombed site in the heart of the City of London. What has drawn the crowds is the discovery, in the excavations, of a Second Century temple to Mithras, the God of Light so widely worshiped in the Roman army; the discovery not only of a “Mithraeum” but of the fragments of a fine statue. It is safe to say that few Londoners had heard of Mithras a week or two ago, and that what draws them is not any very scientific spirit. But their sudden wave of curiosity, the sudden, possibly a little artificial, indignation at the impending bulldozing of the site, reflect very well the English attitude to history: that is, a deep, reverential sense of unity with a remote past. This was Londinium; this is London.Read more »