Therese Anne Fowler’s A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts

by Therese Anne Fowler

Alva Smith, her southern family destitute after the Civil War, married into one of America’s great Gilded Age dynasties: the newly wealthy but socially shunned Vanderbilts. Ignored by New York’s old-money circles and determined to win respect, she designed and built nine mansions, hosted grand balls, and arranged for her daughter to marry a duke. But Alva also defied convention for women of her time, asserting power within her marriage and becoming a leader in the women’s suffrage movement.

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Posted in Early Modern History, Modern History

Hitler’s American Friends: Charles Lindbergh and ‘America First’

Charles Lindbergh

by Bradley W. Hart

On September 11, 1941, one of America’s most famous celebrities took to a stage before a raucous crowd in Des Moines, Iowa.

This was famed aviator Charles Lindbergh—nicknamed Lucky Lindy—addressing a crowd of America First supporters three months before Pearl Harbor. For months, Lindbergh had been traveling the country giving similar speeches opposing U.S. entry into the war in Europe. Tonight’s speech was different, though. There were, he told the crowd that evening, three groups that had conspired to draw the country into the conflict: “the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt Administration.” Together, he continued, these groups had executed a plan to draw the country into war gradually by building up its military and then manufacturing a series of “incidents” to “force us into the actual conflict.”

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Posted in Modern History

5 Vintage Christmas Cards from the NYPL Archive

by New York Public Library

Every year as the days grow shorter, amidst the holly, cookies, and carols there is another timeless holiday tradition—sending and receiving Christmas cards to and from those you love. 100 Christmas Wishes is a collection of vintage holiday cards, all from the archives of the New York Public Library.

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Posted in Early Modern History, Modern History

The Aztec Eagles of WWII: Mexican Air Force Squadron 201

by Mary Jo McConahay

In pre-Columbian times, Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park was a verdant space reserved for the rest and recreation of Aztec rulers. Today it is a fifteen-hundred-acre oasis in the middle of the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world. In the park stands a castle where six “Boy Heroes” fell, military cadets defending a hill against U.S. troops in 1847 during the Mexican-American War.

Ironically, another monument stands nearby, this one commemorating a Mexican air unit that flew under U.S. command in World War II. The Mexican Air Force Squadron 201, nicknamed the “Aztec Eagles” by its members, consisted of three hundred pilots and crew trained in the United States who made bombing runs over Luzon and Formosa in 1945 and ferried aircraft from Papua New Guinea to Pacific theater airfields for Allies fighting Japan. Eight of the Aztec Eagles were killed in the line of duty. Read more ›

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Posted in Military History, Modern History

Hitler’s American Friends: Henry Ford and Nazism

image of henry ford

by Bradley W. Hart

Over the past century, Ford has become one of the most iconic American brands, from its line of pickup trucks to the Mustang. The company’s first car, the Model T, broke ground and helped create the modern automotive industry. Yet what few people know today is that the company’s founder, Henry Ford, not only held deeply prejudiced personal views but also became one of Hitler’s key American friends in the years before the war. To its credit, the Ford Motor Company has made some efforts to come to terms with this troubling history, but there is still more work to be done. As we’ll see, Ford’s views were more than just a private matter—they translated into real-world action that had a major effect on Germany’s military preparedness before World War II. Certainly, Ford was far from the only American businessman who was enticed by Nazi Germany. His rival—General Motors—had a German division of its own and manufactured aircraft parts for the Luftwaffe.

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Posted in Modern History

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