- Historic Sites
101 Things Every College Graduate Should Know About American History
This is not a test. It’s the real thing.
December 1986 | Volume 38, Issue 1
an anarchist, shot and killed William McKinley in 1901, while McKinley was shaking hands on a reception line at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, because he was against all government and because “I didn’t believe one man should have so much services and another man should have none.” Almost certainly neither Garfield nor McKinley would have died of their wounds if modern medical techniques had been available.
shot Theodore Roosevelt as TR was leaving a hotel in Milwaukee on his way to make a speech during his Bull Moose campaign in 1912. Though fired at point-blank range, the bullet passed through a folded copy of Roosevelt’s hour-long speech and his glasses case before lodging just short of his lung. (If he had been less prolix, he might well have been killed.) Roosevelt insisted on going ahead with the speech before being taken to a hospital. He also insisted that Schrank was not insane, since he had made the attempted assassination in a state that had no death penalty. “I may gravely question,” TR later wrote an English friend, “if he has a more unsound brain than Senator La Follette or Eugene Debs.”
shot and killed John F. Kennedy in 1963, but his motive cannot be determined, nor for that matter can his responsibility for the murder be settled beyond question, since he himself was killed by one Jack Ruby before he could be brought to trial.
shot and seriously wounded Ronald Reagan and three members of his party in March 1981 outside a Washington hotel because Hinckley wished to impress Jodie Foster, an actress for whom he had developed a secret passion after seeing her in a movie. The day of the shooting he wrote, but did not mail, a letter to her saying, “the reason I’m going ahead with this attempt now is because I just cannot wait any longer to impress you.” Hinckley, who was acquitted on the grounds of insanity, is also alleged to have told someone in Texas that “as far as he was concerned, politicians should be eliminated.”
(1722–1803), organizer of the Sons of Liberty and the Boston Tea Party, signer of the Declaration of Independence, governor of Massachusetts.
(1735–1826), cousin of Samuel, one of the drafters of the Declaration of Independence, a negotiator of the Peace Treaty ending the Revolution, first Vice-President and second President of the United States.
(1744–1818), wife of John, manager of the family properties during long periods when he was away on public business. Popular with modern feminists, especially for having urged John to “remember the ladies” while helping to create the new nation.
(1767–1848), son of John and Abigail, diplomat, senator, President of the United States, and, late in life, member of the House of Representatives.
(1807–86), son of J.Q., presidential candidate of the Free Soil party in 1848, congressman, minister to Great Britain during the Civil War, editor of the papers of John and of John Quincy.
(1835–1915), son of Charles, Union officer, historian, railroad executive, public official.
(1838–1918), second son of Charles Francis, Sr., historian, editor, teacher, novelist, author of The Education of Henry Adams .
(1848–1927), another son of Charles, Sr., historian, philosopher, professional pessimist.
The name given to what is more commonly known as the Seven Years’ War by the historian Lawrence Henry Gipson in his monumental The British Empire before the Revolution (1936–67). Gipson’s point was that what Americans know of as the French and Indian War was part of a worldwide struggle between France and Great Britain for control of vast areas in America and Asia.
A scheme designed by Henry Clay in the 1820s. Clay sought to form a coalition of Eastern and Western interests in Congress. In return for Western support of protective tariffs that would benefit Eastern manufacturers, the Easterners would vote for bills providing federal expenditures on roads and canals.
A Southern euphemism for slavery. The term was not intended to be a pejorative; by “peculiar” Southerners meant particular or unique, not odd or queer.