Skip to main content


March 2023
1min read

Our issue this month is full of venerable institutions, if we may use both those words rather broadly; and the things that have happened to them, taking the long view, are fine examples of what makes history so endlessly fascinating. Several institutions are changed almost beyond recognition, like the three-hundred-year-old Hudson’s Bay Company, whose dramatic tale we tell on the following pages. Or they have a new “image,” like the philosophical squire of Topeka, Alf M. Landon, interviewed on page 93 in his eighty-third year. Some institutions that might have been thought certain to endure for centuries, such as the Amoskeag mills (page 110) and the Everglades (page 97), are in dire peril, while others look very much the same, like Jay Gould’s mansion, Lyndhurst (page 46), where the table is still set for a dinner that seems to be indefinitely postponed.

Another institution that looks much the same, albeit refurbished on the outside, is the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The picture above was taken there some sixty years ago, when art was representational and old-fashioned patriotism was very popular. The demure little group are inspecting Emanuel Leutze’s heroic canvas Washington Crossing the Delaware. That picture was later relegated to the basement and finally went out of the collection altogether on permanent loan to a smaller museum near the site of the event portrayed. This month the Meropolitan celebrates its hundredth anniversary, but the scene behind the unchanging facade is rather different. The little mod group below is looking at Robert Motherwell’s Elegy to the Spanish Republic; the picture speaks its own proverbial thousand words about the fate of art and old-fashioned patriotism without any further help from us. We must confine ourselves to wishing all these institutions well and to suggesting that another picture taken in the same place some ten or twenty years hence will be just as surprising, and that the only thing is change itself.

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 1970"

Authored by: The Editors

Here is the Nonsuch, a ketch well named, plunging through North Atlantic waves in 1668 on her way to the founding of Canada’s most famous business enterprise

Authored by: David McCullough

At one time it was the largest cotton mill in the world. Now, in the name of progress, one of New England’s most historic and unusual urban areas is being carved into parking lots

Authored by: David Lavender

A TRICENTENNIAL REPORT Having worked like a beaver to overcome three centuries of plunging thermometers, recalcitrant Indians, and fierce competitors from Quebec and the U.S.A., it remains today the continent’s most durable trading enterprise

Authored by: Frank Kintrea

The notorious financier’s properties included railroads, yachts, and newspapers, but none was more precious to him than Lyndhurst, the family castle on the Hudson. It would have distressed him to know that it now belongs to you and me

Authored by: W. A. Swanberg

Wartime America’s nerves were jumpy. One foggy night on a deserted Long Island beach a young coastguardsman heard the muffled engines of a submarine offshore, and suddenly eight shadowy figures loomed up out of the mist

When Ida Tarbell set out to probe the operations of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust, it seemed like David against Goliath all over again

Authored by: John G. Mitchell

"We have permanently safeguarded an irreplaceable primitive area," said President Truman as he dedicated Everglades National Park in 1947. Bit what is permanence, and what is "safeguarded"? Did he speak too soon?

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.