From Civil War to Civil Rights

J.R. Clifford fought his real battles in the courtroom

My paternal grandfather, Edward St. Lawrence Gates, was buried on July 2, 1960. After the burial my father showed my brother and me scrapbooks that his father had kept. Within the pages of those scrapbooks was an obituary of my great-great-grandmother, a slave named Jane Gates. It was dated January 6, 1888. And then he showed us her photograph. The next day I bought a composition book, came home, interviewed my mother and father, and began what I later learned is called a family tree. I was nine years old. Read more »

Date of Event: 
Thursday, November 22, 1860

Letters to the Editor

Lighting the Hunley Read more »

Date of Event: 
Thursday, August 9, 1860

Editor's Letter

We are delighted to welcome an old friend back into our pages. Longtime readers will remember that David McCullough cut his teeth as an American Heritage book editor in the 1960s, then published articles in our pages that would develop into those first-class books about the Panama Canal, the Johnstown Flood, and Harry Truman. (Incidentally, we’ve introduced a new feature on our website to search easily for American Heritage authors. Look up David McCullough, for instance, and up pop his 13 articles.) Read more »

The Portable Past

Hist-ineers, terra-tives and mobi-sodes: Get ready for the brave new world of history on the really small screen.

Can serious history be presented on a cell phone? Handheld devices such as BlackBerrys, iPhones, and other smart phones (and even some not-so-smart) can play video, access the Internet, and display Google maps nearly as well as larger computers. Add in GPS capability, and anyone can hold a multimedia, geographically intelligent machine in the palm of one’s hand. So far, however, precious little programming has been developed to take advantage of these amazing devices beyond games, restaurant reviews, and a host of useful but limited applications. Read more »

“Speculators In Theories”: Henry and Brooks Adams

Like the Mississippi, the flood of books on the Adams family rolls on; and indeed its crest, now that the long-barred portals to the family papers in the Massachusetts Historical Society have been unlocked, still lies ahead of us. How assuredly it was the most articulate as well as the greatest family in American history! Conscious of the role they played, inveterate diary-keepers and letter-writers, the Adamses from generation to generation told us much of themselves and their forebears.Read more »

Jefferson’s Shame?

Bernard A. Weisberger’s well-balanced look at the Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings story (“In the News,” November 1997) led me to wonder anew at both the staying power and the meaning of this tale. Just what is it that is so scandalous here? What is it that Jefferson’s detractors have trumpeted and his supporters denied for nearly two centuries? Read more »

“Hopped-up Country”

The guitar pickin' kid called himself Elvis Presley

As a teenager I liked the sound of guitar music, and I practiced until I was fairly proficient at picking out tunes. Later I got an electric guitar, and lots of noise became my best creation, musically. After graduating from high school, I moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, and worked days and picked nights. I met Hank Williams, Sr., and saw Hank junior as a diaper baby in Bossier City, across the Red River from Shreveport. Later they moved to Nashville. Read more »

The Liberation Of Paris

I am told that many people have difficulty in deciding the most exciting moment in their lives. Not I. For me it was August 25, 1944—the day of the liberation of Paris half a century ago. I was there as a war correspondent courtesy of the American 4th Infantry Division. Read more »

Letter From The Editor

As this issue goes to the printer, the world of cartography is still recovering from Yale University’s regretful announcement that its famous Vinland Map is an apparent fraud. We shared in the announcement of the map’s discovery in our October, 1965, issue. Read more »