American Heritage

Articles from Vol. 58, No. 1, February-March

10 Moments That Made American Business: How a Debt-Ridden Banana Republic Became the Greatest Economic Engine the World Has Ever Known
IT HAS BEEN 400 YEARS SINCE EUROPEAN SETTLEMENT BEGAN in what is now the United States. In that time a land occupied by a few million Neolithic hunter-gatherers has been transformed into the mightiest economy ever known, producing nearly one-third...
1857: The Dred Scott Decision
ON MARCH 6 THE U.S. Supreme Court delivered its decision in the case of Dred Scott v. John F. A. Sandford. Scott was a Missouri slave, and Sanford (whose last name was misspelled in court papers) was a New York businessman who had custody of some family...
Highest Adventure: The Farthest, Coldest Outpost of President Kennedy's New Frontier Turned out to Be in the Himalayas
AT ONE O'CLOCK ON MAY 1, 1963, JIM WHITTAKER, A 34-year-old native of Seattle on his first Himalayan expedition, stepped onto the summit of Mount Everest. The six-foot-five-inch mountaineer, known as "Big Jim" to his fellow climbers, was the tenth...
Russel Wright Aluminum: The Buyable Past
ALUMINUM ORE, PREVALENT IN THE EARTH'S crust from time immemorial, wasn't transformed into metal until the 1800s. The initial cost of the process was exorbitant, and by the third quarter of the century it remained high enough to make aluminum as expensive...
Screenings: Robert Altman
ROBERT ALTMAN'S ENTIRE CAREER, WHICH ranged from episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" in 1957 to the pleasant and strangely elegiac A Prairie Home Companion last year, was summed up after the 1992 Academy Awards. A television journalist asked the...
The Trial of General Homma: Was He the Beast of Bataan, or Was His True War Crime Defeating Douglas MacArthur? A Troubling Look at the Problems of Military Justice
ON THE MORNING OF DECEMBER 16, 1945, Lt. Robert Pelz steeled himself to meet a monster. A young Army lawyer not long out of Columbia Law School, Pelz was stationed in Manila, where he had been assigned to work on the trial of the most notorious Japanese...
The Wrecking Crew: Was Hal Baine One of Your Favorite Musicians Back in the 1960s? How about Larry Knechtel? Carol Kaye? Oh Yes They Were
ON A COOL, OVERCAST FEBRUARY NIGHT IN Hollywood, near the slightly scruffy, down-on-its-luck intersection of Vine Street and Santa Monica Boulevard--the final stretch of Route 66--a group of highly talented musicians gathered in a weathered, nondescript...
"They Were Always in My Attic": The Smithsonian Gets a Remarkable New Archive
"DO YOU WANT CONSTITUTION AVENUE OR INDEPENDENCE?" asks 81-year-old Frank Kameny, from the passenger seat, as he guides the much younger man who's driving to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History from Kameny's modest brick...
Treasure Hunt: In Search of Albuquerque's 300-Year-Old Past-And Its Neon-Lit Present
LAST APRIL, WHEN I MENTIONED that I was flying to Albuquerque, several people assumed I was headed on to Santa Fe and seemed surprised that I wasn't. "What's there?" someone asked. I said I'd tell him when I got back. Now I know. In 1706 New Mexico's...
Why 1848? Kurt Andersen Gives a Neglected Year Its Due
Kurt Andersen, the founder of Spy magazine, is the author of Turn of the Century, a scathingly funny satire of American mores at the end of the last millennium, and now Heyday (Random House, 640 pages, $26.95), an exhilarating cutaway view of America...