The High Art Of George Hadfield

Some of our finest public buildings were designed by a tormented young English architect whom the world has forgotten

George Hadfield was one of the most distinguished architects ever to practice in this country, yet he is so little known that no book has been written about him and very little has been published in architectural journals. Born in Florence in 1763, the son of an English innkeeper, he arrived in America in 1795 and made Washington his home for the remaining thirty-one years of his life. Among other buildings he designed is Arlington House, now a museum overlooking Arlington National Cemetery.Read more »

101 Things Every College Graduate Should Know About American History

This is not a test. It’s the real thing.

How precise is the educated American’s understanding of the history of our country? I don’t mean exact knowledge of minor dates, or small details about the terms of laws, or questions like “Who was secretary of war in 1851?” ( Answer: Charles M. Conrad.) But just how well does the average person remember the important facts—the laws, treaties, people, and events that should be familiar to everyone? Read more »

Where Have All The Great Men Gone?

The early years of our republic produced dozens of great leaders. A historian explains how men like Adams and Jefferson were selected for public office, and tells why the machinery that raised them became obsolete.

THERE IS NO clear consensus on what constitutes greatness, nor are there any objective criteria for measuring it—but when we look at holders of high public offices and at the current field of candidates, we know it is missing. Some of our leaders are competent, articulate, engaging, and some are honest and honorable. But greatness is missing. Read more »

Sea Power Confronts The Twenty-first Century

An Interview With Edward L. Beach
The captain who first took a submarine around the world underwater looks at the U.S. Navy past and present and tells us what we must learn from the Falklands war

Naval power … is the natural defense of the United States,” said John Adams, who more than any other man deserves to be called the father of the American Navy. For more than two centuries, this force—from the raggle-taggle Continental Navy to the missile submarines of today—has played a vital role in the defense of the nation’s freedom and independence. Ships and weapons, tactics and strategy, have undergone quantum changes over the years, but the mission of the U.S.Read more »

What Today’s Army Officers Can Learn From George Washington

A FEW YEARS AGO, writing in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the distinguished historian Henry Steele Commager charged that while civil-military relations had been healthy during most of the nation’s history, the relationship had suddenly taken a turn for the worse.Read more »

1783 Two Hundred Years Ago

The war was over and it was settled (after much negotiation) that the British rear guard would leave New York on December 4. George Washington’s work was done. There remained two emotionally charged tasks for him to perform: he would say farewell to his officers and resign his commission to the Congress of the United States. Read more »

“The Miraculous Care Of Providence”

George Washington’s Narrow Escapes

Upon at least five occasions when in great danger from gunfire George Washington remained unscathed. His hat was shot off his head; his clothes were torn; horses were killed beneath him, but the hero was never so much as scratched by a bullet. For this immunity he thanked “Providence.” He also wrote himself down as lucky. Read more »

Opening China

Once again, Americans are learning the delicate art of trading with the biggest market on earth. Here’s how they did it the first time.

As American merchant ships call again at the China coast, they are following in the ghostly wake of a sailing ship of 360 tons burden which arrived at Whampoa Reach, the anchorage for Canton, on August 28, 1784—188 days out of New York. She proudly fired a “federal salute” of thirteen guns and was saluted in return by the other foreign vessels already anchored there.Read more »

Triumph At Yorktown

Two hundred years ago everything depended on a French fleet leaving the Indies on time; two American armies meeting in Virginia on time; a French fleet beating a British fleet; a French army getting along with an American one; and a British general staying put.

Long after midnight, October 23, 1781, hoofbeats broke the silence of slumbering Philadelphia’s empty streets. Reeling in the saddle from exhaustion and shaking with malarial chills, Lieutenant Colonel Tench Tilghman, aide to General George Washington, pulled up to ask an elderly German night watchman how to get to the home of Thomas McKean, president of the Continental Congress. Read more »

The Newburgh Conspiracy

Encamped above the Hudson for the last, hard winter of the Revolution, the officers of the Continental Army began to talk mutiny. It would be up to their harried commander to defend the most precious principle of the infant nation—the supremacy of civilian rule .

Sunday, October 27, 1782. Mist and intermittent sheets of cold rain shrouded the granite spine of Butter Hill as it stretched west from the Hudson River above West Point toward the distant Shawangunk mountain range. Farmers, working neat, stonewalled fields, watched the storm without noticing anything unusual along the mountain’s crest. At dusk, however, the rain eased and the mist lifted to reveal something new and strange. High on the mountain hundreds of small lights flickered like fireflies.Read more »