Franklin’s Last Home

As Anne Keigher, an architect deeply involved with the London house Benjamin Franklin called home for almost 16 years, shows me around it, she points out a supporting pillar in the basement. “This original pier needed new concrete footing poured beneath it, so we were digging down to shore it up,” she says. “That’s when we discovered the bones.”Read more »

The Press

The American newspaper: beleaguered by television, hated both for its timidity and for its arrogance, biased, provincial, overweening—and still indispensable. A Hearst veteran tells how it got to where it is today, and where it may be headed.

By general consensus the first attempt to start a regularly published newspaper in America was Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick , issued in Boston on September 25, 1690. Its founder was a transplanted British printer, Benjamin Harris, who had been sent to the pillory in London for faking a story about a popish plot against the crown. First, he ran an exposé of the plot, and when it turned out there was none on at the moment, he took credit for breaking it up.Read more »

America In London

Within the city’s best-known landmarks and down its least-visited lanes stand surprisingly vivid mementos of our own national history

On a recent pilgrimage to Abilene—that epic little town on the Kansas plains that briefly marked the uttermost frontier of the Western world —I stepped into the old timber-frame homestead of the Eisenhowers and felt that part of my life had completed a circle. There, in the cluttered formality of the tiny parlor with its dainty drapes and edifying literature, so bravely genteel compared with the dusty cattledriving life outside, Dwight David Elsenhower was raised for leadership in the greatest military adventure of the twentieth century.Read more »

The Lion Caged

An outstanding American historian follows Winston Churchill through a typical day during his political exile in the 1930s and uses that single twenty-four-hour period to reveal the character of the century’s greatest Englishman in all its complexity. See Churchill lay bricks, paint a landscape, tease his dinner guests, badger his secretaries, dictate a history, make up a speech, write an article (that’s how he earns his living), refuse his breakfast because the jam has been left off the tray, refight the Battle of Bull Run, feed his fish, drink his brandy, fashion a “bellyband” to retrieve a particularly decrepit cigar, recite all of “Horatius at the Bridge,” take two baths—and await with noisy fortitude the day when he will save the world.

THE GREAT SANCTUARY Read more »

Does A Freeborn Englishman Have A Right To Emigrate?

Just before the Revolution, newly studied documents reveal, the flight of British subjects to the New World forced a panicky English government to wrestle with this question

In the early 1770s it still seemed likely that the struggle between Britain and her American colonies would be peacefully resolved. If it had been, history would have recorded far more clearly a remarkable development that was temporarily cut off by the Revolution. This development was a flood of immigration to British mainland North America and a sudden and immense spread of settlement in the backcountry of the coastal colonies and in the trans-Appalachian West.Read more »

“yes, By Damn, We’re Going Back To Berlin”

After two false starts, the B-17s got through. A pilot relives the 8th Air Force’s first successful daylight raid on the German capital .

IN MARCH THE NIGHTS were long and black over the airfield at Bassingbourn, which lies just north of London. Its latitude is about the same as that of Hudson Bay, and this proximity to the Arctic Circle means long summer days and long winter nights. During the cold months the B-17s of the 91st Bombardment Group took off in the dark: a blackout was strictly enforced, all the windows had heavy curtains, and even the flashlights had recessed bulbs. Read more »

Whistling Women

How a young New York society matron named Alice Shaw dazzled English royalty with her extraordinary embouchure

Whistling women and crowing hens Always come to some bad ends. —American folk-saying Read more »

The Fragile Memory

What really happened when Thomas Jefferson met George III

On March 17,1786, Thomas Jefferson, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, met his former sovereign. The occasion was George Ill’s levee, and it produced one of the most durable chestnuts in American history. The original, indeed the only source for what is supposed to have happened is Jefferson’s Autobiography , published thirty-five years after the event. Accepted as canon by successive generations of scholars, it has nonetheless received at intervals more than an ordinary number of embellishments.Read more »

When The New World Dazzled The Old

Fifty European nations came to America on her hundredth birthday—and, for the first time, took her seriously

Centennials don’t make sense. It should be evident that a hundredth anniversary is a mere numerical happenstance without historic significance. Yet our schools teach history by the numbers, and we talk about “Eighteenth-Century Civilization” or “The Gay Nineties.” These decimal labels derive from the simple fact that we have ten fingers; this kind of numerology is not helpful to an understanding of the past. History is a flowing stream that must not be dammed into stagnant puddles of decades or centuries. Read more »

Benjamin Franklin’s Years In London

“I … sigh in the midst of cheerful company”

It is difficult not to think of Benjamin Franklin in a purely American setting. After all, this Philadelphia printer who—with little formal schooling—became a remarkable scientist, inventor,writer, philosopher, politician, and statesman was quite as distinctively American as the turkey he proposed for our national symbol. D. H.Read more »