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Retreat to a ReckoningаHe looked into their haunted eyes and saw something primal. Continue Reading

American Allenа— Something awful happened in that room that night.аContinue Reading.

America, in the Style of RevereаHe built things to last forever. аContinue Reading

The Empire at Midnightа—аA reprise of a post that first appeared several years ago kicks off ourаremembrance of Paul Revere to mark the bicentennial of his death. Next week, we will look at the man in full, but here is a recounting of his most famous deed.аContinue Reading

The Invaluable Allyа— An excerpt from David and Jeanne’s forthcoming book! Continue Reading

Dulce et Decorumа— When he died on Breed’s Hill, he was only thirty-four, an unlikely revolutionary, as they all were. Continue Reading

Hellfire in the Holy CityаThe people retreating from the heat and light knew that the firefighters would not make any difference. Continue Reading

Music ManаThe unflappable quiet man made everybody hope that maybe, justаmaybe, thisаwasn’t a flop.аContinue Reading

Millyа—аNeither for marriage nor money did she save the terrified white boy that spring afternoon on the banks of the Wakulla. Continue Reading

Rather Respected Than Belovedа—аHe had never been able to shake the nagging feeling that his life was aimless and wasted. Continue Readingа

Celestial Fireа—аThe pleasant young man sprouting like a weed had set himself a challenging standard. Continue Reading

Nightingaleа—аThe master huckster Phineas T. Barnum promoted her as the greatest singer of all time. Sheаwasn’t. She was something more.аContinue Reading

A Christmas Sampler!а—аForаthis year’s Yuletide, a few recollections to divert and, we hope, delight again or anew. аContinueаReading

Thanksgivingа—а—аSomething happened at Plymouth that was memorable enough to lay the foundation of a tradition. Continue Reading

Lively Girlа—аGeorge was eleven,а and it was Mary who shaped his childhood, though it’s hard to say how.аааContinue Reading

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

Seventeen Days in Juneа—аCongress had done the king a favor by providingаa short list of traitors. Continue Reading

Child of FortuneаDawn would give way to dark. Tyrants biding their time in the shadows would smile. ContinueаReading

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

Making Helen GladаAnd all the trees of the field shall clap their hands Continue Reading

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

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

Inauguration Dayа—аEverything everyone had known about the country was set to change. Continue Reading

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

In Short, the Magiа— Will Porter knew that Christmas for adults is always tinged with sadness. Continue Reading

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

The Farmer’s PromiseаHe twice astonished the worldа—ааby going home. Continue Reading

“As Near Heaven as We Can Get”а—ааWithin 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. Continue Reading

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

Angry Young Hamiltonа—аLike a primed gun, Alexander Hamilton’s temper snapped its trigger. Continue Reading

The Longest Running ShowаIt was said heаcould whip his weight in wildcats, with a panther added for variety. ContinueаReading

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

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

Eighteen Hundred and Starve to DeathаEverything was either turned upside down or sideways, and the weather lost even its fragile fraction of predictability. Continue Readingа

Seth’s WarаOnly a captain, he was about to become a household name all over theаUnited States. Continue Reading

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

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

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

A Small Package of TreasuresаThe dance is an old one. Girls know it byаinstinct; boys learn it by heartache. Continue Reading

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

The Baby in the BarnаThe light hurt their eyes, and worse, it frightened them.аContinue Reading

Doing Some Things as Well as Othersа—аAll the crowds would cheer when Sam popped up, ContinueаReading

Holding Darkness WithinаAfter sunset, nobody could hear them, or help them. аContinue Reading

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

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

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

The Wind with No Nameа—аThe fate awaiting them in the Florida Keys amounted to a tragedy worthy of Aeschylus. Continue Reading

About Timeа—аTo celebrate Seth Thomas’s birthday, we revisit a time before there was time as we know it. Continue Reading

New York’s Indian Summerа—аCitizens of аNew York prided themselves on having seen everything, but they had never seen anything like what was happening in their city that summer of 1790. Continue Readingа

Traveling ManаOn his birthday, we remember the reasons he came to theаUnited States and partly explain how he came to knowаAmericans better than any other visitor. Continue Reading

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

A Good Manаа—аAll but forgotten except as a figure of fun, he was actually a rare public servant and an even greaterаrarityаin the presidency.аContinue Reading

"Dove Mi Piaci”аа—ааHe accomplished what the rest of the world had long thought impossible. It was 200 yers agoаthis week, beginning on June 30.аContinue Readingа

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

Music of the Perpetual Nightа—аTom Wiggins had the enviable purpose of creating wonder and joy out of the grotesque and inexplicable. Continue Reading

Lucy at Launchа—аHe couldn’t take his eyes off of her. He had never seen anything so wonderful, so perfect.аContinue Reading

General Jackson’s Pistolsа—аThe supposedly crack shot showed up without a weapon. Continue Reading

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

Bleeding Sumnerа—аAt 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.” Continue Reading

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

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

Do Recognize Him Some Whereа—аIt 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. Continue Reading

The Empire atаMidnightа—аRevere swung himself into the saddle and spurred the horse to a gallop. It was an hour before midnight. Continue Reading

Awkward Fellow, Sure-Footedа—аAbraham 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. Continue Reading

The Two Generalsа—аAt Appomattox 150 years ago, it was a strange reversal of fortune for the two men who met there.аContinue Reading

Cast-Iron Manа—аHe was admired him for his talent as well as his dark, rugged good looks. Yet, almost nobody liked him. Continue Readingа

Marble Soulа—аHe believed that with enough time and the right tools, he could show a man’s soul. Continue Reading

Boston and the Booksellerа—аAchieving a miracle was all in a day’s work for a member of an army that needed one.аContinue Reading

Through Some Glasses Darklyа—аTo 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? Continue Reading

The Forbes Lessonа—аBy using his rule, John Forbes’s reluctant student would win American independence.аContinue Reading

Death and Texasа—аTheyаshored up their makeshift fort while trying to suppress the disturbing feeling that they were all going to be killed. Continue Reading

The Best Presentа—аIt was his birthday, but the best present was from him to someone he mildly detested. Continue Reading

A Number of Quiet Attentionsа—аWhen 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. Continue Reading

The Other Mr. Adamsа—аHe 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.аContinue Reading

No One Else Was Thereа—аToo 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.аContinue Reading

A Tale of Two Thorntonsа—аWe have always been struck by another facet of the clash at NewаOrleansаthat 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. Continue Reading

Anything Seemed Possible . . . America at New Year’sа—аNew 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. Continue Reading

The Desperate Journeyа—аThis 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,аWashington’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. Continue Reading

The Kid Who Caredа—аFour decades after the American Revolution, one of its most beloved heroes arrived in theаUnited 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.аContinue Reading


( Heidlers Photo Credit: Don Jones, Studio Nine Commercial Photography) ай David and Jeanne Heidler 2018