American Heritage

Articles from Vol. 57, No. 1, February-March

1781: Constitution, Take One
225 YEARS AGO ON MARCH 1 THE Articles of Confederation, the United States's first attempt at establishing a national government, took effect upon their adoption by Maryland, the last of the 13 states to ratify. The Articles had been nearly five...
America's Most Famous Letter: Abraham Lincoln Signed It. A Lot of Scholars Say He Didn't Write It. Now, Newly Discovered Evidence Helps Solve an Enduring Mystery
IN A CARDBOARD BOX IN A BACK OFFICE IN A HOUSE IN the hills of Vermont, six letters about Abraham Lincoln's famous "letter to the Widow Bixby" lay unknown and undisturbed. For how long is uncertain, although this author's fingerprints made last March...
"Hooker"
THIS PAST OCTOBER THE RESIDENTS OF Hooker Lane, in the tony Cos Cob section of Greenwich, Connecticut, made headlines when 9 of the 11 homeowners on the 1,580-foot-long dead end--or "cul-de-sac," in real estate-ese--petitioned the town's board of selectmen...
Mister Thorndike
LAST THANKSGIVING DAY BROUGHT WITH IT SAD news: An obituary in The New York Times told of the death of Joseph J. Thorndike, Jr. His passing severed a final strand connecting American Heritage to its corporate past, for Joe was the last of our three...
More Mr. Nice Guy: How Pat Boone Seduced a Rock Critic
Pat Boone Says: You Don't Have to Wiggle ... Do I think performers have a moral obligation to their fans? Well, I do. I have had considerable success in the rock-and-roll field, but I think that some of its exponents, usually the instrumentalists,...
My Years with Ronald Reagan: What a Sceptical Biographer Discovered about a Very Elusive Subject
I FIRST MET RONALD REAGAN IN NOVEMBER of 1967. It was a brief encounter, and I was not impressed. I was a reporter for The New York Times traveling with the mayor of New York, John V. Lindsay, who was then a Republican. There was a lot of talk at the...
Our Malcolm: Discovering What a Particular Time in Harlem Says about the Whole Nation
RICHARD SNOW AND FRED Allen, my editors here at American Heritage, were kind enough to suggest that I write something this month about my new novel, Strivers Row, published by HarperCollins, and now in fine bookstores everywhere. I was, of course,...
Play It Again, Sam: A Superb Performance Enjoys an Encore Half a Century Later
SAMUEL BARBER, WHO WAS BORN IN PENNSYLVANIA in 1910, began composing music when he was seven, and as a juvenile opera singer he revealed a predilection for writing for voice. He studied voice at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute, where he was a member...
Spring Break: Wildlife, Shells, and Thomas Edison's Laboratory
THE BEST FAMILY VACATIONS combine mind-improving visits to museums and historic houses with enough recreation to keep the kids happy; the older and moodier your children grow, the more carefully you choose and apportion your ingredients. Last April...
The Magnificent Fraud: How a Lying Poseur Gave America Its Army
EARLY IN JANUARY 1778, WHILE GEORGE WASHINGTON WAS struggling to feed his hungry men at Valley Forge, he received a letter from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The writer enclosed a letter from Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane, the diplomats who were representing...
Worst Case: A Never-before-Seen Scenario Shows Just How Fragile Our Great Cities Were-And Are
THERE WAS A TIME WHEN URBAN AMERICANS WEREN'T afraid of terrorists, bombs, and poison gas. The worst thing that could happen in a city was a strike. Cities were unprepared for labor walkouts because nobody could tell who would strike or when and where....
Zippo Lighters
AN EARLY ADVERTISING campaign for the Zippo, which George G. Blaisdell began producing in 1933 in Bradford, Pennsylvania, featured a young lady lighting a cigarette while leaning into a wind so strong it molded her dress to her body. Later ads made...