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Lively GirlGeorge was eleven, and it was Mary who shaped his childhood, though it’s hard to say how.Keep Reading

Where is There?— Plopped down in a trackless wilderness, they were of that generation’s pocket-protector set, nerds in the modernnomenclature. Keep Reading

Seventeen Days in JuneCongress had done the king a favor by providinga short list of traitors. Keep Reading

Child of FortuneDawn would give way to dark. Tyrants biding their time in the shadows would smile. Keep Reading

Henry’s MaThescene with the coins was probably a quaint family legend. What happened was more impressive. Keep Reading

Making Helen GladAnd all the trees of the field shall clap their hands Keep Reading

I, CooperWhat do a locomotive, a pencil, and a tinkering businessman have to with one another? Keep Reading

The Swan and the DucklingThe swan lived a life of glitter on its surface. The duckling simply lived. Keep Reading

Inauguration DayEverything everyone had known about the country was set to change. KeepReading

The Wedding at the White HouseA beguiling charm made her popular, not because she was pretty but because she was nice. Keep Reading

In Short, the MagiWill Porter knew that Christmas for adults is always tinged with sadness. Keep Reading

Extra! Extra! Read All About It: Kringle is Real!That day he had the annoying chore of writing about Santa Claus. Keep Reading

The Farmer’s PromiseHe twice astonished the worldby going home. Keep Reading

“As Near Heaven as We Can Get”Within days they exhausted their meager provisions. As it snowed without cease, they began to starve, and then to die. It was a terrifying state of affairs. Keep Reading

The Finest TrickIt took his dying, which was the greatest escape of all, but it also made for Houdini’s finest trick. Keep Reading

Angry Young HamiltonLike a primed gun, Alexander Hamilton’s temper snapped its trigger. Keep Reading

American Allen— Something awful happened in that room that night. Keep Reading.

The Longest Running ShowIt was said hecould whip his weight in wildcats, with a panther added for variety. Keep Reading

The Reign of WitchesThe actual motive distilled, as it always does, to nothing more than the despicable creed of authoritarians everywhere:“Because we can.” Keep Reading

For as Long as There is Liberty— The recipient might have thought the letter was a bit overdue. Some people thought it was twelve years overdue. KeepReading

Eighteen Hundred and Starve to DeathEverything was either turned upside down or sideways, and the weather lost even its fragile fraction of predictability. Keep Reading

Seth’s WarOnly a captain, he was about to become a household name all over theUnited States. Keep Reading

Barron Pride— He heard exaggerated stories about StephenDecatur commenting on his dereliction, cowardice, and bad character. James Barron reached for a pen, but he would eventually reach for a pistol. Keep Reading

Before the Little Trip— Two and a half centuries (and counting) were entirely possible for a man too beloved to pass or too mean to expire.Keep Reading

The First President’s DayThe stark fact that they didn't want him to have a happy birthday cast a shadow. Keep Reading

A Small Package of TreasuresThe dance is an old one. Girls know it byinstinct; boys learn it by heartache. Keep Reading

An Idea So ShiningIt ranks with Magna Carta as a great pivot in the affairs of mankind. Keep Reading

The Baby in the BarnThe light hurt their eyes, and worse, it frightened them.KeepReading

ThanksgivingSomething happened at Plymouth that was memorable enough to lay the foundation of a tradition. Keep Reading

Doing Some Things as Well as OthersAll the crowds would cheer when Sam popped up, until the day he didn’t. Keep Reading

Holding Darkness WithinAfter sunset, nobody could hear them, or help them. Keep Reading

Springtime for Bonaparte and HistoryEveryone thinks that Waterloo was his final campaign, but it was merely a prelude to the one he later mounted and won. Keep Reading

Hidden Prompt for a Private PlayHis fellow thespians might have considered it a comic episode of delightful misadventures and impossible misunderstandings, except the show would close with a killing. Keep Reading

Lund’s HouseHe never asked for more than his due and was often willing to do with considerably less. Keep Reading

NightingaleThe master huckster Phineas T. Barnum promoted her as the greatest singer of all time, but shewasn’t. Keep Reading

The Wind with No NameThe fate awaiting them in the Florida Keys amounted to a tragedy worthy of Aeschylus. Keep Reading

About TimeTo celebrate Seth Thomas’s birthday, we revisit a time before there was time as we know it. Keep Reading

New York’s Indian SummerCitizens of New York prided themselves on having seen everything, but they had never seen anything like what was happening in their city that summer of 1790. Keep Reading

Traveling ManOn his birthday, we remember the reasons he came to theUnited States and partly explain how he came to knowAmericans better than any other visitor. Keep Reading

The Twenty-Nine Whacks— Nothing remarkable had ever happened to her, until her parents turned up dead.Keep Reading

A Good ManAll but forgotten except as a figure of fun, he was actually a rare public servant and an even greaterrarityin the presidency.KeepReading

"Dove Mi Piaci”He accomplished what the rest of the world had long thought impossible. It was 200 yers agothis week, beginning on June 30.Keep Reading

Gad! said the Dad of YesteryearThere is something curiously modern about Father’s Day that dour forebears would have found peculiar. Keep Reading

Music of the Perpetual NightTom Wiggins had the enviable purpose of creating wonder and joy out of the grotesque and inexplicable. Keep Reading

Lucy at LaunchHe couldn’t take his eyes off of her. He had never seen anything so wonderful, so perfect. He never would again. Keep Reading

General Jackson’s PistolsThe supposedly crack shot showed up without a weapon. Keep Reading

Remembering, in This Our TimeWe regard those Americans in uniform with appreciation and ask in admiration, “Where do such people come from?” Keep Reading

Bleeding SumnerAt one point Stephen A. Douglas was heard to mutter, “There’s one damned fool who’s going to get himself killed by another damned fool.” Keep Reading

Mrs. Howe’s Mother’s DayWhen the nineteenth century was winding down and she had become an old lady, Julia Ward Howe had her palm read by “an expert.” Keep Reading

To Begin the World Over AgainThomas Paine had written during the Revolution,“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” That April day, Americans were intent on proving it. Keep Reading

"Do Recognize Him Some WhereIt was the start of a deep mystery beginning with who the killer was, who he became, and how he seemingly managed to cheat death, after a fashion. Keep Reading

The Empire atMidnightRevere swung himself into the saddle and spurred the horse to a gallop. It was an hour before midnight. Keep Reading

Awkward Fellow, Sure-FootedAbraham Lincoln was despondently walking home in the dark when his right foot slipped on a patch of mud and nearly knocked his left leg out from under him. Keep Reading

The Two GeneralsAt Appomattox 150 years ago, it was a strange reversal of fortune for the two men who met there.Keep Reading

Cast-Iron ManHe was admired him for his talent as well as his dark, rugged good looks. Yet, almost nobody liked him. Keep Reading

Marble SoulHe believed that with enough time and the right tools, he could show a man’s soul. Keep Reading

Boston and the BooksellerAchieving a miracle was all in a day’s work for a member of an army that needed one.Keep Reading

Through Some Glasses DarklyTo bark at these men would violate the fundamental rule of command: One must never give an order unless there is the reasonable expectation that it will be obeyed. How deep was this anger and how strong was the tide it pushed? Keep Reading

The Forbes LessonBy using his rule, John Forbes’s reluctant student would win American independence.Keep Reading

Death and TexasTheyshored up their makeshift fort while trying to suppress the disturbing feeling that they were all going to be killed. Keep Reading

The Best PresentIt was his birthday, but the best present was from him to someone he mildly detested. Keep Reading

A Number of Quiet AttentionsWhen he was younger, when fiddles squeaked and girls giggled and he wasn’t worried about being the George Washington he later felt it necessary to become, he had his moments. Keep Reading

The Other Mr. AdamsHe was the patriot who had propagandized the Boston Massacre, helped orchestrate the town’s famous tea party, and had signed the Declaration of Independence when a signature on that document essentially meant a death sentence. He was uneasy about the proposed Constitution.Keep Reading

No One Else Was ThereToo many Americans in 1789 took for granted that George Washington would serve as the country’s first president under its new Constitution. Similarly too many Americans now take for granted the very existence of George Washington as a central figure in the country’s founding and its perilous course through its earliest days. Those Americans in 1789 shouldn’t have been so certain; Americans now should be more grateful.Keep Reading

A Tale of Two ThorntonsWe have always been struck by another facet of the clash at NewOrleansthat is marked by one of those strange historical coincidences that happens every now and then. This one concerns the peculiar appearance at two pivotal events of the War of 1812 by two men of the same name, one an eccentric American and the other a decorated British officer. Keep Reading

Anything Seemed Possible . . . America at New YearsNew Year’s Day is traditionally a time for forward-looking resolutions designed to improve attitudes, habits, and life in general, but in that respect resolutions require a backward look at what is wrong and needs fixing. Americans now are not so different in that human essential from those of previous generations. Keep Reading

The Desperate JourneyThis past Sunday, December 14, George Washington died 215 years ago. It’s customary to note the sad anniversary and recall what it meant to the country at the time and for years afterward. We have something to say about Washington’s passing in our forthcoming book,Washington’s Circle: The Creation of the President, but this December we thought it would be interesting to travel back to Washington’s youth when, as a mature but untested 21-year-old, he was sent by the colonial governor of Virginia into the trackless Ohio Country. It was this time of year, and Washington was on an impossible mission. Keep Reading

The Kid Who CaredFour decades after the American Revolution, one of its most beloved heroes arrived in theUnited States for his fourth and final visit. Part triumphal tour and part sentimental journey, the Marquis de Lafayette’s travels through every state of the Union (there were twenty-four at the time) reunited him with a dwindling cadre of old friends who, like him, had grown old and frail. Keep Reading


David S. Heidler 2017