The Taking Of California

A low comedy for high stakes:

For three hundred years California drifted in a backwash of time. Spain had discovered the region in 1542 but had done little about it until the latter part of the eighteenth century, when fears of Russian interest in the province inspired her to settle a handful of missionary priests, half-educated soldiers, and thoroughly uneducated civilians in a few pinprick outposts scattered along the coast from San Diego Bay to San Francisco Bay. After Mexico won her independence from Spain in 1821, the Mexicans had done little better by California.Read more »

The Place of Franklin D. Roosevelt in History

Seldom has an eminent man been more conscious of his place in history than was Franklin D. Roosevelt. He regarded history as an imposing drama and himself as a conspicuous actor. Again and again he carefully staged a historic scene: as when, going before Congress on December 8, 1941, to call for a recognition of war with Japan, he took pains to see that Mrs. Woodrow Wilson accompanied Mrs. Roosevelt to the Capitol, thus linking the First and Second World Wars.Read more »

“Whatever You Write, Preserve”

All that the Adamses saw they were schooled to put down and save. The result is a collection of historical records beyond price and without peer.

In Philadelphia, just five days before the Virginia delegates to the Continental Congress moved a momentous resolution of independence, John Adams sat writing a letter to Mrs. Adams in Braintree, Massachusetts. The day before, he told her, it being the first day of June, he had dined with a friend. “We had Cherries, Strawberries, and green Peas in Plenty. I believe the Fruits are three Weeks earlier here than with you—indeed they are a fortnight earlier on the East, than on the West side of Delaware River.

 

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Our Two Greatest Presidents

Without doubt they were Washington, who walked carefully within the Constitution, and Lincoln, who stretched it as far as he dared

The myth and the reality of American history seldom come within shouting distance of one another. What the average American believes and what the historians would like him to believe about, let us say, the first winter in Plymouth, or the Boston Massacre, or Mrs. Bixby’s five sons, are two quite different things.

Ghosts In The White House

Discreet helpers have worked on the speeches and papers of many Presidents, but a nation in a time of trial will respond best “to the Great Man himself, standing alone”

It is assumed that the so-called “ghost writer” has become “a necessity of modern-day, high-speed campaigning.” Dorothy Thompson has said that ghostwriting “is so common today that one can almost say our thoughts are guided by ghosts.” Even a religious co-ordinator has been added to the White House staff. Recent demonstrations, however, have led some critics to long tor the Good Old Days when a President told his story in his own way.

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T. R. Writes His Son

No matter how busy he was, Theodore Roosevelt always found time for his children. The charming “picture” letters below, addressed to his thirteen-year-old son Archie from a Louisiana hunting camp, recall a man who for millions of Americans will always live on, forever vigorous, forever young.

Tenesas Bayou, Oct. 10, 1907.

Blessed Archie:

I just loved your letter. I was so glad to hear from you. I was afraid you would have trouble with your Latin. What a funny little fellow Opdyke must be; I am glad you like him. How do you get on at football?

We have found no bear. I shot a deer; I sent a picture of it to Kermit.