“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 »

What If?

Conjectural or speculative history can be a silly game, as in “What if the Roman legions had machine guns?” But this historian argues that to enlarge our knowledge and understanding it sometimes makes very good sense to ask …

What if any of the pre-Civil War Presidents had gone mad?

What if Andrew Johnson had been successfully impeached?

What if William McKinley had not been assassinated?

What if there had been no tape-recording system in Nixon’s White House? Read more »

The First Hurrah

Presidential candidates stayed above the battle until William Jennings Bryan stumped the nation in 1896; they’ve been in the thick of it ever since

The most confident prediction that can be made about the 1980 presidential campaign is that the nominees will invest enormous energy, time, and money in stumping the country.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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Taking Sides In The Boer War

The United States remained officially neutral, but many Americans fought alongside both opposing armies and several became legendary heroes

“I have been absorbed in interest in the Boer War,” wrote Theodore Roosevelt to his friend Cecil Spring Rice in 1899. He was not alone. Most Americans took a keen interest in this remote conflict.Read more »

Bryan: The Progressives: Part I

exhibit one in a gallery of men who fought the good fight in vain

Americans are a proud, ambitious, and hopeful people; they are easily riled when life does not measure up to their expectations, and quick to express their displeasure. Only one “era of good feelings” is recorded in our history; it was short, merely superficially calm, and quickly followed by the broils and battles of the Age of Jackson. On the other hand, fundamental conflicts of interest and opinion among Americans have been extremely rare.

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The Enemies Of Empire

To the question of acquiring new territories overseas, and owning colonies, one group of Americans answered with a resounding “No!”

We know, to the hour and minute, when this country reached the point of no return on its way to becoming a world power.

 
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The Front Porch Campaign

While Bryan stumped up and down the land, McKinley let the voters come to his lawn in Canton—and they came

In 1896, the depression which had followed the Panic of ’93 was in its third year. Debt, business failure, unemployment, and labor unrest were spreading; to many, revolution seemed just a step away. This was the setting for the bitter presidential contest between Republican William McKinley and Democrat William Jennings Bryan, and the great debate between the advocates of “sound money” and the supporters of the inflationary panacea, free silver.Read more »

The Needless War With Spain

"The current was too strong, the demagogues too numerous, the fall elections too near"

The United States in the 1890’s became aggressive, expansionist, and jingoistic as it had not been since the 1850’s. In less than five years, we came to the brink of war with Italy, Chile, and Great Britain over three minor incidents in which no American national interest of major importance was involved. In each of these incidents, our secretary of state was highly aggressive, and the American people applauded. During these years, we completely overhauled our decrepit Navy, building fine new warships like the Maine.

 

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