West Point In Review

The old school is alive with the memory of men like Lee, Grant, Pershing, and Eisenhower

Each year most of West Point’s three million visitors enter the U.S. Military Academy through the Thayer Gate. They drive past the cluttered main street of Highland Falls, which the historian Samuel Huntington described as a town of a sort “familiar to everyone … a motley, disconnected collection of frames coincidentally adjoining each other, lacking common unity and purpose.” A moment later the visitors are in, as Huntington put it, “a different world [of] ordered serenity….Read more »

The Presidential Follies

An old, familiar show is back in Washington. There’s a new cast, of course, but the script is pretty much the same as ever. Here’s the program.

WHEN THE IRAN-CONTRA STORY BROKE LAST NOVEMBER, A NUMBER OF public figures as well as news commentators put the revelations in a historical context. Walter Mondale said in a New York Times interview: “It was all so knowable. Did they really think they could get away with it—violate the law and nobody would care?...They were so full of hubris....” Read more »

The Battle for Grant’s Tomb

It might seem that building a mausoleum to the great general would be a serenely melancholy task. Not at all. The bitter squabbles that surrounded the memorial set city against country and became a mirror of the forces straining turn-of-the-century America.

When Groucho Marx asked, “Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?” on “You Bet Your Life,” he was offering unsuccessful competitors, battered by his heckling and bewildered by the game, a chance for redemption and some easy money. In return for Grant’s name would come a small prize, some audience applause, and a farewell handshake. As a last effort to reward a hapless guest, “Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?” soon came to symbolize the obvious. Read more »

When Presidents Tell It Their Way

Only ten of our forty Presidents have written accounts of their time in the White House. Jimmy Carter’s Keeping Faith is the latest addition to that short shelf, and James Buchanan was the somewhat unlikely creator of this rare literary form. But as the welcome new Da Capo Press edition of his autobiography reaffirms, Theodore Roosevelt remains its most vivid and vigorous practitioner. Read more »

Susan B. Anthony Cast Her Ballot For Ulysses S. Grant

For this crime, she was arrested, held, indicted, and put on trial. Judge Hunt presided.

Shortly before the Republicans convened in Philadelphia in 1872 to renominate Ulysses S. Grant for President, Susan Brownell Anthony visited him at the White House. She told the President that her National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) wanted him to make votes for women a plank in his platform. Grant replied that he had “already done more for women than any other president.” He recognized the “right of women to be postmasters,” he said, and had named five thousand to the post, but he would make no promises about the party platform. Read more »

Comrades In Arts

A West Point Gallery

The usual image of U. S. Grant has him in his dingy infantryman’s coat, imperturbably chewing a cigar while under fire from the line on which he is willing to fight it out all summer; it is difficult to imagine him carefully putting the final touches to a watercolor.Read more »

Presidents Emeritus

The ex-Presidency now carries perquisites and powers that would have amazed all but the last few who have held that office

What should be done with exPresidents? William Howard Taft once remarked that perhaps the best way to handle a former President was to chloroform and ceremonially cremate him when he left office, in order to “fix his place in history and enable the public to pass on to new men and new measures.” Taft did not insist on this ritual for himself, however, accepting instead a professorship at the Yale Law School when he finished his presidential term, and later serving as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

 
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1876: The Eagle Screams

HISTORICAL REGISTER of the CENTENNIAL EXPOSITION 1876.

Philadelphia’s vast Fairmount Park stretches acre after acre, plateau after ravine, all empty now under the brittle blue of a winter sky. The people that came here in crowds a century ago to celebrate the country’s centennial are hard to imagine, however many faded photographs and woodcut illustrations one has seen of them. The some two hundred Exhibition buildings they massed in front of and wandered through are gone—torn down or changed utterly.Read more »

‘Twas The Nineteenth Of April In (18)75 — And The Centennial Was Coming Unstuck

On a new bridge that arched the flood Their toes by April freezes curled, There the embattled committee stood, Beset, it seemed, by half the world.

Captain John Parker’s company of minutemen stood in formation, some seventy strong, waiting on Lexington Green in the dim light of early dawn. They had gathered during the night in response to Paul Revere’s warning that the British were coming. Read more »