Harriet Beecher Stowe

Brought to the stage without her consent, this enduring American drama did not bring the author a cent—but it gave actors a living for generations

To early Americans the Old Testament and its scenes, even its speech and names, were as familiar as their own backyard

He was a capitalist. He was an urban reformer. He was a country boy. He was “Comrade Jesus,” a hardworking socialist. He was the world’s first ad man. For a century and a half, novelists have been trying to recapture the “real” Jesus.

The two most popular novels in nineteenth-century America were Lew Wallace’s Ben Hur (1880) and Charles Sheldon’s In His Steps (1896). Read more >>

You Asked for It

When American Heritage suggested last year that I put together the article that became “101 Things Every College Graduate Should Know about American History,” I accepted the assignment eagerly. Read more >>

Walden is here, of course; but so too is Fanny Farmer’s first cookbook

America is not a nation of readers, yet books have had a deep and lasting effect on its national life. Read more >>

To stave off despair, the President relied on a sense of humor that was rich, self-deprecating—and surprisingly bawdy

A great “intensity of thought,” Abraham Lincoln once counseled his friend Joshua Speed, “will some times wear the sweetest idea thread-bare and turn it to the bitterness of death.” No aspect of Lincoln’s character has become more tangibly real in the literature than his melanch Read more >>

How the mistress of the plantation became a slave

“WE’RE USED to living around ‘em. You Northerners aren’t. You don’t know anything about ‘em.” This is or was the allpurpose utterance of white Southerners about blacks. Read more >>
Nearly two centuries after Crèvecoeur propounded his notorious question—“What then is the American, this new man?”—Vine Deloria, Jr., an American Indian writing in the Bicentennial year on the subject “The North Americans” for Crisis Read more >>

Beset with ailments, Victorian women found solace, in more ways than one, in a new panacea—hydropathy

A century and a half ago American women faced a very different life prospect than today. Without dependable birth-control techniques they could expect to spend their prime years bearing children. Read more >>

Harriet Beecher Stowe, an extraordinary member of an extraordinary family, always claimed that God wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin

She had been brought up to make herself useful. And always it suited her. Read more >>

The Literary Lights Were Always Bright at

Everyone wanted to be invited to 148 Charles Street, where Charles Dickens mixed the punch and taught the guests parlor games, John Greenleaf Whittier and Harriet Beecher Stowe vied in telling ghost stories, and Nathaniel Hawthorne paced the bedroom floor one unhappy night in t Read more >>
True classics never die. But sometimes second-rate works also acquire unique longevity. Take Uncle Tom’s Cabin , born in 1852. Read more >>