Spring 2009 | Volume 59, Issue 1
The keen 19th-century observer of the American scene, Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote “History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies.” In this issue we celebrate some of this country’s and North America’s most remarkable pioneers—no copies here—ranging across four centuries of our history. Pulitzer-prize winner, David Hackett Fischer gives us insight into the enigmatic Samuel de Champlain, the master cartographer and explorer who charted northeastern North America. Historian Peter C. Mancall writes about the strange interactions between explorer Henry Hudson and the Lenape people of New York. Writer Victoria Pope gives us a peek into the work of Jackie Cochran, the racing pilot and celebrity who established the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and proved that women could fly airplanes. And, Clay Carson, the director of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s papers at Stanford University, examines the civil rights leader’s groundbreaking oratory.
We’re well aware that pioneers don’t always fight on the side of right—and that’s why we bring you a story on Wall Street’s 10 most infamous rogues and scoundrels by John Steele Gordon. These men’s actions, often remarkably innovative, led to the implementation of new safeguards to protect shareholders.
Fighting to bring back a revered but struggling 60-year-old magazine, we sometimes feel a bit like we’re pushing new frontiers—especially in these difficult economic times in which many magazines and newspapers closed shop. I can report that we’ve gotten well on the way back to stability by cutting expenses dramatically. While keeping revenues solid thanks to loyal readers like you, many of whom have remained with us for decades.
But I am writing to ask your help in keeping this magazine strong. Now, more than ever, it’s important that we keep the important stories, issues, and personalities in front of the American people. American Heritage is not about entertainment, but the common inheritance we all share.
If we all do just a little bit, we can help maintain American Heritage’s prominence and continued strength, even in this tough economy. Here are some things you can do:
• Give the magazine as a gift—the past makes a great present!
• Tell a friend about the magazine. Included in this issue is a card you can pass along to a friend to entitle him or her to a “free trial issue.”
• Adopt a library or school (see page 24). It’s important that more children and Americans learn about the history of our great county.
• Consider joining us on a cruise or conference (see page 12). American Heritage is launching a series of exciting opportunities to explore history—through a seminar on Lincoln in Washington, DC, and history-themed cruises.
Thanks in advance for your help. Enjoy this issue!
Edwin S. Grosvenor, Editor-in-Chief