“a Representative Of America”

Vain, snobbish, distinctly upper-class in his libertine social habits, Gouverneur Morris nevertheless saw himself justifiably as

Of all the remarkable men who forgathered in Philadelphia in the spring of 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation, and perhaps to do even more, Gouverneur Morris was certainly the most talkative. Between May and September, when the delegates adjourned, he made a hundred and seventy-three speeches—twelve more than Madison, his nearest competitor.Read more »

The Greats Wine Flu Epidemic Of 1918

In the last week of October, 1918, 2,700 Americans died “over there” in battle against the kaiser’s army. The same week 21,000 Americans died of influenza in the United States. Read more »

The Chief Of State And The Chief

In the snarled disputes over the Yazoo land claims in 1790 George Washington and an educated Creek chieftain turned out to be the diplomatic kingpins

Shortly past noon on April 30, 1789, a tall, somber man, dressed in a simple brown suit, was inaugurated as the first President of the United States at Federal Hall in New York City. For the people who watched the ceremony it was a day of celebration and of enthusiastic confidence in the man who now led them. But the emotion that stirred the crowd, the cannon salutes, the cheers, could not soothe the anxiety of the new President.Read more »

The Fateful Encounter

IN THE MOST FAMOUS DUEL IN AMERICAN HISTORY AARON BURR IS USUALLY SEEN AS THE VILLAIN, ALEXANDER HAMILTON AS THE NOBLE VICTIM, BUT WAS IT REALLY THAT SIMPLE?

Of all the thousands of duels fought in this country, only one is known to every high-school student. Never before or since has there been an encounter between two such nationally prominent men, the Vice President of the United States and the former Secretary of the Treasury. Moreover, the outcome was considered by most persons a triumph of Evil over Good—in flagrant violation of the American dream. Read more »

Three Forgotten Heroes

Who today remembers John Paulding, Isaac Van Wert, or
David Williams? Yet for a century they were renowned as the
rustic militiamen who captured Major John André

Before September 23, 1780, the three seemed unlikely stuff for heroes. But on that day Major John André came their way, and fame for the trio followed. Read more »

Men Of The Revolution: 14. John Hancock

Like Abou Ben Adhem, his name led all the rest. On the document proclaiming America’s independence it is inscribed boldly with flourishes, the mark of a confident, proud man; and the fact that it was written an inch longer than he customarily signed it gave rise to the legend that John Hancock had recorded his name large enough for George in to read without spectacles. Read more »

The Miracle That Saved The Union

The Union desperately needed an extraordinary warship to counter the ironclad the Confederates were building

It was obvious that something very special was needed to confront the ironclad that the Confederacy was furiously building if the Union was to be saved. Yet it took a personal visit of Abraham Lincoln to the somnolent offices of the Navy Department to force the issue, and by then it was so late that the Navy Department had to have a miracle. In short, the contractor would have to build, in a hundred days, a kind of ship that had never been built before, and build it in a desperate race against time. Read more »

Last Footnotes

Catherine Drinker Bowen—historian, musician, and most of all biographer—said in our sister magazine, HORIZON , in an article written shortly before her death, that all of her biographical heroes were possessed by a sense of urgency.Read more »

The Cantankerous Mr. Maclay

William Maclay, elected by the Pennsylvania Legislature to the Senate of the United States, left his farm near Harrisburg early in March, 1789, and journeyed to New York to attend the first session of the First Congress. He took board and lodging for two dollars a week at a Mr. Vandolsom’s near the Bear Market, and for the next month he waited for the two houses to form a quorum, meeting informally each morning with other members at Federal Hall on Wall Street.Read more »