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Good Fortune

March 2023
1min read

Recently, while listening to the early-morning radio news, I heard an extraordinary report of a retired man in Florida who has made the Social Security Administration the beneficiary of a large portion of his estate—$40,000 to be exact. Asked why he had decided on such an unusual course, he replied that he was proud to be a citizen of the United States, had benefited from its system of government, and simply wanted to show his appreciation of his good fortune.

Despite the social and economic problems of our nation, there is no doubt that this is a fortunate country and we are a fortunate, even blessed, people. Weighed on the scale of world horrors and all those forces that thwart and dishearten mankind, our portions of opportunity and liberty are very great. Telling the story of this remarkable heritage has been the task and privilege of this magazine for almost thirty years.

Have we succeeded? I think so and offer the 169 consecutive issues of A MERICAN H ERITAGE as proof that the marketplace and our readers think so too. Certainly there is no other magazine that challenges our unique franchise: to show American history in the making, to show that what our people did in the past explains who we are in the present.

I also offer as proof of our vitality the issue you now hold in your hands. Just in terms of the writers themselves, our stories bespeak star quality. Our cover feature on the American city is by Alfred Kazin, whose ability to connect America’s literary and political history with the way we live now has made him one of our outstanding men of letters. Malcolm Cowley, in our pages, continues his lifelong fascination with the American experience—in this instance with his own childhood in Pennsylvania. Jacques Barzun, who writes about the polymathic genius of William James, is himself a man of genius in his ability to compare and criticize multiple strains of history, literature, and philosophy. Finally, we’re delighted to publish a few words about the political magic of Franklin Delano Roosevelt by John Kenneth Galbraith—economist, historian, social critic, and wit.

And that’s just a sampling. Other writers in this issue have been chosen by the same standards as the authors we’ve mentioned: they have something to say about American life and they say it exceedingly well. That’s our good fortune—and yours too.

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 "February/March 1983"

Authored by: Alfred Kazin

The city has been a lure for millions, but most of the great American minds have been appalled by its excesses. Here an eminent observer, who knows firsthand the city’s threat, surveys the subject.

Authored by: James P. Johnson

In 1913 the Ouija board dictated a novel. Twenty years later it commanded a murder. It is most popular in times of national catastrophe, and it’s selling pretty briskly just now.

Authored by: The Editors

An all-but-forgotten San Francisco photographer has left us a grand and terrible record of the destruction and rebirth of an American city

Authored by: Richard C. Wade

A noted historian argues that television, a relative newcomer, has nearly destroyed old—and valuable—political traditions

Authored by: Edward Sorel

The decline and fall of the lamppost

Authored by: Harold Holzer

…so Lincoln joked. Actually he was eager to pose for portraits.

Authored by: Warren P. Trimm

To get started as a prairie homesteader in the 1870s you needed uncommon reserves of strength, sanity, courage, and luck. Trimm had the first three.

Authored by: Lois Dinnerstein

As painting became a respectable profession in America, artists began to celebrate their workplaces

Fifty years ago this March, Roosevelt took the oath of office and inaugurated this century’s most profound national changes. One who was there recalls the President’s unique blend of ebullience and toughness.

Authored by: Jacques Barzun

One of America s truly great men—scientist, philosopher, and literary genius—forged his character in the throes of adversity

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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.

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