Sixteen historic sites in Boston remind Americans of the events that led to our nation’s birth, from the Boston Massacre to Bunker Hill and the USS Constitution.
Editor's Note: Brent Glass is Director Emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the author of 50 Great American Places: Essential Historic Sites Across the U.S., from which this essay is adapted.
Salem found its fortune in the East Indies trade
Boston is so bright a beacon of Revolutionary history that it is easy to forget the city played an equally significant role in another civil war. Dara Horn, a Harvard junior, seeks out the moral engine of the Union cause.
Time is a viscous fluid, and occasionally it sticks to places, leaving the residue of certain centuries attached to the edges of buildings, or to markers on the streets, or to the insides of tourists’ heads. In Boston that clinging moment is the colonial period and the American Revolution. When tourists think of Boston, they think of Puritans and patriots, of minutemen and Paul Revere.
The American master of horror fiction was as peculiar in his life as he was in his writing
Among the presents that came Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s way during the Christmas season of 1936 was a skull from an Indian burial ground. The gift was appropriate for a lifelong connoisseur of the weird.
The Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery in 1865, but right on into this century sailors were routinely drugged, beaten, and kidnapped to man America’s mighty merchant marine
William Davis, a cabinet-maker, left his home near Great Salt Lake in the Utah Territory in the mid-1870s and headed for Northern California, a fast-growing region where he hoped to earn up to six dollars a day by adapting his expertise to ship carpentry.
Is trial by jury the essential underpinning of our system of justice or—as more and more critics charge—a relic so flawed it should perhaps even be abolished? An experienced trial judge examines the historical evidence in the case.
The distinguished lawyer could not restrain himself. Even in the somber pages of the American Bar Association’s Tort & Insurance Law Journal late last year, his rage blazed and fulminated.
Why Litigiousness Is a National Character Trait
BACK BEFORE CLAUS VON BULOW ever heard of Jeremy Irons, a judge who found the news media’s attitude toward the case puzzling put a question to a friendly television reporter.
The American newspaper: beleaguered by television, hated both for its timidity and for its arrogance, biased, provincial, overweening—and still indispensable. A Hearst veteran tells how it got to where it is today, and where it may be headed.
By general consensus the first attempt to start a regularly published newspaper in America was Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick , issued in Boston on September 25, 1690.
Americans invented the grand hotel in the 183Os and during the next century brought it to a zenith of democratic luxury that makes a visit to the surviving examples the most agreeable of historic pilgrimages
At the turn of the eighteenth century, a story went around Connecticut about a pious old woman who was berating her nephew for being such a rake. And an aging rake, at that. “But we’re not so very different,” he insisted.
The great Czech composer arrived on these shores a century ago and wrote some of his most enduring masterpieces here. Perhaps more important, he understood better than any American of the day where our musical destiny lay.
I did not come to America to interpret Beethoven or Wagner for the public. That is not my work and I would not waste any time on it. I came to discover what young Americans had in them and to help them express it.”
Not long ago, while I was in the midst of preparations for an exhibition on early American trade with India, an extraordinary memento of that trade serendipitously appeared at the Peabody Museum of Salem in Massachusetts.
To the end of his life America’s most infamous traitor believed he was the hero of the Revolution
Shortly after noon on Thursday, April 20, 1775, a weary postrider swung out of the saddle at Hunt’s Tavern in New Haven, Connecticut, with an urgent message from the Massachusetts Committee of Cor- respondence.
An architecture for a new nation found its inspiration in ancient Rome
The little town of Lebanon, Connecticut, played a larger role in the Revolution than Williamsburg, Virginia, did. And it’s all still there.
Natives of eastern Connecticut like to say that except for Boston and Philadelphia, the village of Lebanon stands first in America in Revolutionary importance.
The author walks us through literary Boston at its zenith. But Boston being what it is, we also come across the Revolution, ward politics, and the great fire.
Like three Bostonians out of four, I live on a site that was originally underwater. My house is on River Street, an alleyway that was built for stables at the bottom of Beacon Hill in the middle of the nineteenth century.
Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia Peabody managed to extend the boundaries that cramped the lives of nineteenth-century women. Elizabeth introduced the kindergarten movement to America, Mary developed a new philosophy of mothering that we now take for granted, and Sophia was liberated from invalidism by her passionate love for her husband.
Other men,” Ralph Waldo Emerson told an admiring crowd in Boston’s Odeon Theater toward the end of 1845, “are lenses through which we read our own minds.” The eminent philosopher then went on to tell his audience of the importance in their lives of “Represent
Born in response to the shoddy, machine-made goods available in the marketplace, the Arts and Crafts movement in America began in isolated workshops and spread to the public at large, preaching the virtues of the simple, the useful, and the handmade
THROUGHOUT AMERICA GRADE SCHOOLS AND summer camps teach “arts and crafts.” In my rural school we mitered wooden boxes, hammered decorative copper, and crackle-glazed clay pots—all under the gaze of a man who wore a dirty smock and a white beard, marks of ind
From Fort Ticonderoga to the Plaza Hotel, from Appomattox Courthouse to Bugsy Siegel’s weird rose garden in Las Vegas, the present-day scene is enriched by knowledge of the American past
Oliver Wendell Holmes was wounded three times in some of the worst fighting of the Civil War. But for him, the most terrible battles were the ones he had missed.
He was born in 1841, in a Boston that took its water from backyard wells and its light from whale-oil lamps. He died ninety-four years later in a nation that the army pilot James Doolittle had just crossed in twelve hours.
In a classic medical paper, Dr. Reginald Fitz identified the disease, named it, showed how to diagnose it, and prescribed an operation that would save tens of millions of lives
On Sunday, January 17,1886, a twenty-four-year-old Boston woman experienced searing, excruciating pain in her right lower abdomen.
His job was to destroy German submarines. To do it, they gave him twelve men, three machine guns, four depth charges, and an old wooden fishing schooner with an engine that literally drove mechanics mad.
On July 6, 1942, I was standing on the fantail of the minesweeper Fulmar off Portland, Maine, when the signal tower started blinking away. By the time I could get to the bridge, the message had already been typed up.
The story of AT&T from its origins in Bell’s first local call to last year’s divestiture. Hail and good-bye.
The history of telephone communications in the United States is also, in large measure, the history of an extraordinary business organization.
It was a hundred years ago, and the game has changed a good deal since then. But there are plenty of people who still hold that cranky old Hoss Radbourn was the finest that ever lived.
Greatest Season Performance by Major League Pitcher? One hundred years ago last summer, Charles Radbourn won 60 and lost 12 for the Providence Grays of the National League.
Israel Sack made a fortune by seeing early the craft in fine old American furniture
To a casual passerby on East Fifty-seventh Street in Midtown Manhattan, No. 15 looks like any other small, wellkept building. On the main floor is an antique-silver shop.
How a favorite local charity of Boston’s Brahmins—parochial and elite—grew into one of our great democratic medical institutions
The U.S. Navy’s first submarine was scrapped half a century ago. But now we have been given a second chance to visit a boat nobody ever expected to see again.
IN 1930 THE United States Navy’s first submarine was hauled away from the Bronx park where it had long been on display and was knocked into scrap by a salvage company that had paid one hundred dollars for the privilege.
Today more Americans live in them than in city and country combined. How did we get there?
ABOUT SUBURBS, ONLY COMMUTERS know for sure.
We built a merchant marine despite the opposition of the Royal Navy, went on to develop the most beautiful of all sailing ships, and held our supremacy for years. But how do we measure up today?
AMERICA is in the midst of a revival of interest in things nautical—nineteenth-century nautical.
The fascinating contents of a newly discovered document of the War of 1812
THE AMERICAN frigate Constitution is preserved in Boston, where she was built and where she was launched in October 1797.
When it comes to genealogical pride, there’s nothing to equal the modest satisfaction of a slightly threadbare, socially impregnable New Englander. A canny guide to the subtle distinctions of America’s most rarefied society.
New England snobbism is based on a regional reverence for that which is old.