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March 2023
1min read

The Constitution: a celebration …

Two hundred years ago this summer a handful of genius-touched gentlemen farmers met to hammer together what has turned out to be the oldest written constitution still going. In the next issue we mark its bicentennial with a special section. Here are some of our offerings:

A few parchment pages two hundred years later …

The framers of the Constitution were proud of what they had done, but they would probably be amazed to find their words still carry such weight. In an essay that reflects his lifelong study of the great charter, the distinguished historian Richard B. Morris examines how and why the men who drafted it built so much better than they knew.

Taking another look at the constitutional blueprint …

What article do you like best in the Constitution? How would you change the Constitution? The editors put these two questions to hundreds of historians, authors, and public figures, including the former Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter. Their replies form a fascinating spectrum of informed opinion from left to right—and taken together they make up a lively, provocative, and sometimes amusing commentary on self-rule in America.

Interview with a founding father …

Impossible, of course. But the political historian Carry Wills has taken the influential though little-remembered James Wilson and, with a novelist’s skill, has put a child of the Age of Reason in confrontation with the slam and bustle of twentieth-century Philadelphia.

An unexpected Philadelphia …

The square mile the Constitution makers knew still speaks of the city’s eighteenth-century glory. But there is another Philadelphia—more elusive, more intimate, nearly as rich historically, perhaps more beguiling—and it is this town that John Lukacs reveals to us in a highly personal tour.

The British view …

In an elegant essay, England’s former ambassador to Washington, Oliver Wright, discusses the document that, he feels, civilizes the entire world by its very existence.

Plus …

Andrew Wyeth talks intimately about his father, the great illustrator N. C. Wyeth … the steamboat Yellow Stone carries an extraordinary freight of history during her brief life … and, with a breadth of vision that might have impressed the framers themselves, even more.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "April 1987"

Authored by: Otto Friedrich

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

Authored by: Geoffrey C. Ward

A biographer who knows it well tours Franklin Roosevelt’s home on the Hudson and finds it was not so much the President’s castle as it was his formidable mother’s.

Authored by: Alfred Kazin

A journey through a wide and spellbinding land, and a look at the civilization along its edges.

Authored by: Shirley Abbott

In the quiet luxury of the historic district, a unique form of house plan—which goes back two hundred years—is a beguiling surprise for a visitor

In the blustery days of late fall, the traveler still can find the sparseness and solitude that so greatly pleased the Concord naturalist in 1849

Authored by: Brian Dunning

Within the city’s best-known landmarks and down its least-visited lanes stand surprisingly vivid mementos of our own national history

Authored by: Selma Rattner

Every town you pass through has felt the impact of the modern historic-preservation movement. Now a founder of that movement discusses what is real and what is fake in preservation efforts.

Authored by: Richard Reinhardt

No city has more energetically obliterated the remnants of its past. And yet no city has a greater sense of its history.

Featured Articles

Rarely has the full story been told how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

Why have thousands of U.S. banks failed over the years? The answers are in our history and politics.

Often thought to have been a weak President, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or political fallout.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.

Native American peoples and the lands they possessed loomed large for Washington, from his first trips westward as a surveyor to his years as President.

A hundred years ago, America was rocked by riots, repression, and racial violence.

During Pres. Washington’s first term, an epidemic killed one tenth of all the inhabitants of Philadelphia, then the capital of the young United States.

Now a popular state park, the unassuming geological feature along the Illinois River has served as the site of centuries of human habitation and discovery.  

The recent discovery of the hull of the battleship Nevada recalls her dramatic action at Pearl Harbor and ultimate revenge on D-Day as the first ship to fire on the Nazis.

Our research reveals that 19 artworks in the U.S. Capitol honor men who were Confederate officers or officials. What many of them said, and did, is truly despicable.

Here is probably the most wide-ranging look at Presidential misbehavior ever published in a magazine.

When Germany unleashed its blitzkreig in 1939, the U.S. Army was only the 17th largest in the world. FDR and Marshall had to build a fighting force able to take on the Nazis, against the wishes of many in Congress.