Henry Adams

Written in haste, on an April midnight in 1803, the unedited text of the message that led to the Louisiana Purchase is printed for the first time.

Like the Mississippi, the flood of books on the Adams family rolls on; and indeed its crest, now that the long-barred portals to the family papers in the Massachusetts Historical Society have been unlocked, still lies ahead of us. Read more >>

Never before published, Frederic Bancroft’s diary jottings give an intimate picture of a great historian at his leisure

The actual conversations of great men of the past—saving Samuel Johnson, perhaps, and a legendary Socrates—have seldom been recorded. How instructive and interesting would it be now had some posterity-conscious person recorded a conversation of Benjamin Franklin as he talked with friends at the City Tavern or Junto Club in Philadelphia, or Thomas Jefferson’s after-dinner discussions with guests at Monticello, or the conversations of Henry David Thoreau with the thinkers of Concord! Read more >>

Smarter than stupid, of course; but does the intellectual tradition that began with the century suggest there is such a thing as being too smart for the country’s good?

When Henry Adams sought the medieval world in an automobile, this stuffiest of prophets became the first American to sing of the liberating force later celebrated by Jack Kerouac and the Beach Boys

Test-driving automobiles, Henry Adams discovered in June 1904, was “shattering to one’s nerves.” Trying out a Hotchkiss for purchase “scared my hair green. Truly it is a new world that I live in,” he continued, “though its spots are old. Read more >>

The author walks us through literary Boston at its zenith. But Boston being what it is, we also come across the Revolution, ward politics, and the great fire.

Like three Bostonians out of four, I live on a site that was originally underwater. My house is on River Street, an alleyway that was built for stables at the bottom of Beacon Hill in the middle of the nineteenth century. Read more >>

From Fort Ticonderoga to the Plaza Hotel, from Appomattox Courthouse to Bugsy Siegel’s weird rose garden in Las Vegas, the present-day scene is enriched by knowledge of the American past

If the historians themselves are no longer interested in defining the structure of the American past, how can the citizenry understand its heritage? The author examines the disrepair in which the professors have left their subject.

In the mid-sixteenth century, a blind and deaf old Spanish soldier named Bernai Díaz del Castillo set out to write an account of what he had seen and done as a follower of Hernando Cortés during the conquest of Mexico. Read more >>

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. Read more >>

A distinguished journalist and former presidential adviser says that to find the meaning of any news story, we must dig for its roots in the past

I am fascinated by what I see in the rearview mirror of experience. The future, being a mystery, excites, but the past instructs. Read more >>

One of America s truly great men—scientist, philosopher, and literary genius—forged his character in the throes of adversity

THE YEAR IS 1890 and the place Cambridge, Massachusetts. Read more >>

The city has been a lure for millions, but most of the great American minds have been appalled by its excesses. Here an eminent observer, who knows firsthand the city’s threat, surveys the subject.

EVERY THURSDAY , when I leave my apartment in a vast housing complex on Columbus Avenue to conduct a university seminar on the American city, I reflect on a double life—mine. Read more >>

With Epcot, Walt Disney turned his formidable skills to building a city where man and technology could live together in perfect harmony. The result is part prophecy, part world’s fair. Here, America’s leading authority on technological history examines this urban experiment in the light of past world’s fairs, and tells why it fails where they succeeded—and why that matters.

MOST OF THE world must know by now that Epcot is a place built in north-central Florida by the followers of Walt Disney to explain how science and technology fit into the human scheme of things. Read more >>

To Owen Wister, the unlikely inventor of the cowboy myth, the trail rider was “the last cavalier,” the savior of the Anglo-Saxon race

We think of the cowboy and of the open range as part and parcel of the American legend that spread eastward from the West during the nineteenth century. 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 >>

A shy Yankee named Hannah Adams never thought of herself as liberated, but she was our first professional female writer.

If they should care to, the leaders of Women’s Liberation may add Miss Hannah Adams, born in 1755, to their roster of distinguished women. She was probably the first native American woman to earn a living as a professional writer. Read more >>

Weary of his humiliating job—American pay-off man to the piratical Arab states—this bold Yankee civilian raised his own army and won our strangest foreign war