“Little Colonel Funston”

That’s what the newspapers called him, and he spent an increasingly reckless career trying to edit out the adjective. But even winning a war single-handed didn’t get him what he wanted.

On the night of March 22, 1901, as fierce rains battered his campsite in the wildest reaches of Luzon Island, Frederick Funston pondered what awaited him the next day. In a career that had been full of mortal risks, he was about to take by far the greatest risk of all. Ten miles to the north lay his prey, Emilio Aguinaldo, formerly dictator of the Philippines but now, having tailored his title to fit American expectations, president of the Philippine Republic.Read more »

The Spain Among Us

After half a millennium we scarcely feel the presence of Spain in what is now the United States. But it is all around us.

In 1883 Walt Whitman received an it Santa Fe and deliver a poem at a celebration of the city’s founding. The ailing sixty-four-year-old poet wrote back from his home in Camden, New Jersey, that he couldn’t make the trip or write a poem for the occasion, but he sent along some remarks “off hand”: “We Americans have yet to really learn our own antecedents, and sort them, to unify them They will be found ampler than has been supposed, and in widely different sources.Read more »

Forts Of The Americas

On their weathered stone battlements can
be read the whole history of the three-century
struggle for supremacy in the New World

On the northwest shoulder of South America, looking out over the blue waters of the Caribbean, an ancient citadel stands guard above a Spanish city. Three thousand miles to the north, where the Gulf of St. Lawrence meets the gray rollers of the North Atlantic, the guns of another once-menacing fortress stare sullenly across a bleak, empty sea. The tropical city is Cartagena, Colombia. The northern bastion is Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island, once called the “Gibraltar of the West.” Read more »

“Texas Must Be Ours”

On the 150th anniversary of Texan independence, we trace the fierce negotiations that brought the republic into the Union after ten turbulent years

From the moment he entered the White House in March 1829, Andrew Jackson of Tennessee turned a cold and calculating eye on Texas. Sitting in his study on the second floor of the mansion, maps strewn around the room, the white-haired, sharp-featured, cadaverous President breathed a passion for Texas that was soon shared by other Americans. Read more »

Bernardo De Gálvez

The Forgotten Revolutionary Conquistador Who Saved Louisiana

Imagine, for a moment, an alternate ending to the American Revolution. The thirteen rebel colonies sign a peace of exhaustion with Great Britain in 1783. Instead of a trans-Appalachian nation, with boundaries on the Mississippi, the Americans are restricted to a few river valleys in Tennessee and Kentucky. The Mississippi valley is British, as well as Canada and all the territory north of the Ohio, peopled with hostile Indians whom Britain controls.Read more »

Trove

The saga of Kip Wagner, the first modern American to grow rich from ancient Spanish treasure

The stretch of sand that runs along for miles at the margin of Cape Canaveral was irresistibly reminiscent, I thought, of Cape Cod. But then one sandspit is very like another, except for the temperature surrounding it. That day the sea was remarkably peaceful though not very blue: it reflected a gunmetal sky. Here and there a family party sat on the sand and ate, but the place was by no means crowded, if you didn’t count the seagulls, and nobody seemed eager to go into the water.Read more »

The Social History Of A Singular Fruit

In southern California the orange found a home.

For more than thirty years it stood at the corner of Highland Avenue and Del Rosa Avenue in San Bernardino, California, bordered at the rear by a line of eucalyptus trees and behind that by a thirty-acre grove of fat green trees that joined others in a march to the foothills of the San Bernardino Range. It billed itself as “The World’s Largest Orange Juice Stand,” and perhaps it was. It was big enough—a monstrous globe about sixty feet in diameter, constructed of plaster and chicken wire over a rickety wooden framework and painted a glistening orange.Read more »

Under Fire In Cuba

A Volunteer’s Eyewitness Account of the War With Spain

From the Revolution at least through World War II, American boys hurrying off to war calmed their fear s by believing that their country’s cause wan just and right and would surely prevail.

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The Man Behind Columbus

Martín Pinzón of Palos

As you approach the village of Palos de la Frontera, some fifty miles west of Seville in Spain’s Analgesía, the squat little church of San J’orge looms in the foreground at the base of a rocky cliff that overlooks the tidal flats created by the mingling of the rivers Tinto and Odiel. The shallow estuary where the two rivers converge, known of old as the Saltés, is undistinguished scenically, an obscure corner of Spain virtually unknown to American tourists. Read more »

Columbus And Genocide

The discoverer of the New World was responsible for the annihilation of the peaceful Arawak Indians

On April 17, 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic monarchs of Castile, signed the Capitulations of Santa Fe, the agreement by which Christopher Columbus, one-time wool-weaving apprentice in Savona, Italy, undertook a voyage of discovery to the western Atlantic. Read more »