The Plot to Kidnap a Dead President

by Philip Jett

Most American citizens know that President Abraham Lincoln was fatally shot on April 14, 1865, just after the Civil War ended. However, it’s what happened to Lincoln afterward that intrigues me.

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Posted in Modern History

Thomas Jefferson: Revolutionary

by Kevin R. C. Gutzman

Thomas Jefferson’s influence on American political history outstrips that of any other figure. Only Franklin Roosevelt rivaled President Jefferson’s dominance of the federal government, and Jefferson was more than the supreme politician of the revolutionary era: he was its symbol, even in his own day.

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Posted in Modern History

America’s Interventionist Course

by Stephen Kinzer

Every member of Congress understood that history was about to be made. President McKinley had decided that the United States should push its power into the Pacific Ocean and that, as a first step, it must seize the Hawaiian Islands. Some Americans found the idea intoxicating. Others despaired for the future of their country. One of them was the Speaker of the House, Thomas Reed, a figure so powerful that he was known as Czar.

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Posted in Modern History

How Sears Saved Christmas from the Soviets

by Philip Jett

It was November 30, 1955, and the Cold War was raging. The U.S. had stockpiled 2,422 atomic bombs while the Soviets had only about 200, though more than ample to annihilate the United States. With the Soviet Union fewer than 2,000 miles away, the U.S. formed the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) to provide a timely defense system against intercontinental ballistic missiles fired by the Soviets over the North Pole and Canada that could strike the United States. CONAD’s command post was in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Colonel Harry W. Shoup directed its Combat Operations Center. He reported directly to four-star general Earle “Pat” Partridge, who in turn reported directly to President Eisenhower.

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Posted in Contemporary History

Anne Royall: Common Scold

by Jeff Biggers

Bloody feet, sisters, have worn smooth the path by which you have come hither.
—Abby Kelley Foster, National Women’s Rights Convention, 1851

In the summer of 1829, more than a century after Grace Sherwood had been plunged into the Lynnhaven River in Virginia in what is generally considered the last American witch trial, a bedraggled Anne Royall took the stand at the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia to face charges of being an “evil disposed person” and a “common scold.”

The US district attorney had conjured the charges from an ancient English common law that had long been dismissed in England as a “sport for the mob in ducking women,” especially for older women, as a precursor in trials for witchcraft.

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Posted in Modern History
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