The Debacle at Fort Carillon

It started with jaunty confidence and skirling bagpipes. Five days later it had turned into one of the bloodiest and most futile battles ever fought on American soil.

At Ticonderoga, Lake George spills its waters northward into Lake Champlain, and for over a century whoever controlled the narrows there controlled the gateway to a continent. Travel through the dense American forests was arduous at best, impossible when supplies and trade goods needed to be taken along. If smugglers, traders, or armies wished to pass between the domains of Britain and France, between New York and Montreal, they had to go by water. Read more »

A Twenties Constellation

Stars of the era still glow brightly in portraits by photographer James Abbe

The personage at left is neither Cossack nor commissar, but an American photographer who pursued—and overtook—an extraordinarily lively career in photojournalism and who today, at eighty-nine, lives in San Francisco. Although James Abbe’s photographic adventures unfolded in many exotic places, including Russia, some of his most successful pictures were of American stage and film performers, and especially of those glamorous figures of the 1920’s who became the first truly world-famous stars.Read more »

The Beards That Made Rough-keepsie Famous

Attached to every city in America is at least one illustrious industrial name. In Detroit it is Ford. In Durham it is Duke. In Milwaukee it is Schlitz, who made “the beer that made Milwaukee famous.” In the annals of Poughkeepsie, New York, it is Smith, or rather the brothers Smith, William and Andrew, whose patronymic is recognized wherever people cough. What Gloversville has been to gloves, Meriden to silverware, and Battle Creek to breakfast cereals, Poughkeepsie has been to medicated cough candy.Read more »

Miss Eleanor Roosevelt

“She is such a funny child, so old-fashioned, that we always call her ‘Granny’ “her mother said. Cousin Franklin felt otherwise

By no strange quirk of fate, no unlikely chance or mysterious destiny, were Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt brought together in casual acquaintanceship. Even had they been wholly without ties of blood and family tradition, unsharing of the same family name and distant ancestry, the strangeness would have been in their not meeting as they pursued their highly mobile physical lives within that small social world, close-knit and rigidly exclusive, which both of them inhabited. Read more »

Rocky’s Road

Who runs the country? Administrative agencies. Who runs the administrative agencies? Well, there was this road they were going to put right through the old Rockefeller place, and …

Late last summer, during Nelson A. Rockefeller’s New York gubernatorial campaign, the Rockefeller family announced their intention that their 4,180-acre Westehester property, Pocantwo Hills, shall be “preserved and dedicated to the public interest. ” However, the estate will remain in the family at least for the lifetime of the current owners: Nelson, Laurance, David, and John D. in.Read more »

“Commune” In East Aurora

In the spring of 1915 a handsome fifty-nine-year-old man with a marked resemblance to Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan boarded ship in New York, bound for England. Other passengers stared unabashedly at his long black Prince Albert coat, his outsize black tie, his almost shoulder-length tresses topped by a Stetson hat. There was indeed nothing ordinary about Elbert Hubbard.Read more »

Four Indian Kings In London

In the first years of the eighteenth century Peter Schuyler, mayor of Albany, was friend and protector of the Mohawk Indians. They camped familiarly in his parlor, dined at his table, and called him “Quider,” the Mohawk pronunciation of Peter. They were also lured into supporting Schuyler’s bold plans for the invasion and subjugation of French Canada. For the desultory War of the Spanish Succession, involving France and England, was being waged in Europe and on the high seas. In America it is remembered as Queen Anne’s War.Read more »

A Wrecker’s Dozen

There are places on this earth, in Europe particularly, where conservation is taken to mean the preservation of the notable works of man as well as nature. Magnificent old railroad stations and churches, public buildings, historic houses, architectural landmarks of all kinds, are valued for their beauty or for the memories they evoke, for the sense of continuity they give a place, or, often, just because they have been around a long time and a great many people are fond of them. But here in America we don’t—most of us, anyway—seem to feel that way.Read more »


To become a successful local hero, get a good biographer and outlive your detractors

The good citizens of Fulton County, New York, have a historical hero all their own, one Major Nicholas Stoner. Although the country at large has never heard of him, in his own territory Nick Stoner is still revered, more than a century after his death. His name has been given to a lake, an island, another lake, an inn, and a golf course, which boasts a bronze statue of him near the first tee. State highway No.Read more »

The Steamboat’s Charter Of Freedom


The famous case of Gibbons v. Ogden, decided on March 2, 1824, was, with its preceding litigation, ultimately concerned with a single question: the power of Congress to regulate interstate as well as foreign commerce. It produced a triumph for nationalism, in the most generous and constructive sense of that term, and its influence has been immense. Its immediate effect, however, was to release from monopoly, like a genie from a bottle, a sooty, romantic, and useful servant to the American people—the steamboat.

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