American History

Road Trip Through History: Colonial Michilimackinac

September 6, 2012

Last weekend My Own True Love and I hit the road after far too many months of being tied to desks, tasks, and deadlines.  It was our third anniversary and we wanted Romance, plus a little history, long walks, fabulous food, glorious scenery.  We chose the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan. The hotel was […]

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Steinbeck in Vietnam

August 30, 2012

Reading Steinbeck in Vietnam: Dispatches From the War, edited by literary scholar Thomas E. Barden, is a fascinating, and occasionally uncomfortable, experience. In December, 1965, Nobel laureate John Steinbeck, then 65, accepted an assignment from Harry F. Guggenheim to report on the war in Vietnam for Newsday.  A personal friend of Lyndon Johnson, with one […]

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The Rise of the Skyscraper

August 14, 2012

Reliance Building. 1895. Photo courtesy of Cornell University Library I was fascinated by architectural history long before I moved to Chicago.  As a child I amused myself by keeping a running count of Doric vs Ionic capitals on the pillars on front porches throughout town.  (So many ways to be a dork.  So little time.) […]

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The Whiskey Rebellion

August 6, 2012

“No taxation without representation” was a rallying cry in the American Revolution*, but taxation controversies didn’t go away after the United States was formed.  The new government needed regular revenue.  The average man on the street (or dirt road through the wilderness) was opposed to taxation and had his doubts about government in general.  Some […]

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Déjà Vu All Over Again: The Immigration Law of 1924

July 19, 2012

America has always been a nation of immigrants, fueled by a constant stream of those with the energy and imagination to leave the familiar in search of something more.  And it has always had people who wanted to keep out the immigrants who came a generation or two after they themselves arrived. Between 1880 and […]

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Why the Mayflower?

May 23, 2012

There is a statistic floating around that irritates me. The words aren’t always the same, but the factoid is: “Today 10% of all Americans are descended from the settlers who arrived on the Mayflower.” No one ever says where the number came from. That’s enough to make my teeth grind all by itself, but it’s […]

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Squeeze This!

May 17, 2012

I know it’s hard to believe, but even history bloggers sometimes think about something other than history.  We knit, canoe, wrestle bears, feed people, drink whiskey, and play with the cat.* Whenever we get the chance, My Own True Love and I pull on our dancing shoes and two-step and waltz to a Cajun band. […]

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The War of 1812–Why Should We Care?

May 15, 2012

I admit I’m slow. It wasn’t until I read Donna Seger’s excellent blog post on historical anniversaries that I made the connection. It’s the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Duh! * It’s an easy war to overlook for those of us who aren’t specialists in American history. It’s so small in scale and […]

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Why I Want to Go to Omaha

January 10, 2012

Why is Omaha on my travel list?  Two words, okay three:  The Bodmer Collection. In 1832, German naturalist Prince Maximilian zu Weid-Neuweid led one of the earliest expeditions to the American West.*  As anyone who has snapped a picture of the Grand Canyon or the Grand Bazaar knows, expeditions need to be recorded.  Instead of […]

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The Other First Thanksgiving

November 26, 2011

Unless you live in the American Southwest, the grade school version of American history* typically leaps from Columbus and 1492 straight to 1620, when the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts.  There is a vague awareness that the Spanish and the French were “out there” doing something, but the story focuses on the development of the thirteen […]

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