American Heritage

Articles from Vol. 45, No. 1, February-March

"A Most Abandoned Hypocrite." (Abraham Lincoln)
A newly discovered document almost certainly written by the young Abraham Lincoln shows him dismantling a shifty political rival with ruthless wit and logic As soon as he moved to Illinois in 1830, Abraham Lincoln found himself on the opposite side...
A Nation of Immigrants
It's a politician's bromide--and it also happens to be a profound truth. No war, no national crisis, has left a greater impress on the American psyche than the successive waves of new arrivals that quite literally built the country. Now that arguments...
"Born in Iniquity." (Louisiana Lottery) (Column)
The Victorians regarded their times, quite correctly, as a great age of reform. They abolished slavery. They spread public education throughout the country. They began the march down the road to women's rights. But there is one great nineteenth-century...
Crossing Florida
At dinner on the first full day aboard the New Shoreham II, Nancy Heslin, the cheerful and inexhaustible cruise director, asked how many passengers had traveled with the line before. Every person raised a hand but one. I was the lone newcomer. For...
Dear Mr. Lincoln
On March 3, 1865, the day before Abraham Lincoln was to be sworn in for the second time as President, a New York private named William Johnson, just one of the thousands of Federal troops who had voted for their Commander-in-Chief, mailed him a gift,...
Dial 1-800-History
The canvas upon which I wielded my brush with history has grown to epic proportions and shows no sign, at all, of diminishing in size. In the 1950s I ventured into the not-for-profit health-agency field, and in 1962 I became Senior Public Health...
Financing Your Future: How to Achieve Your Goals with an Individual Retirement Account
How do you picture your retirement? Will you be sipping a cold drink while relaxing on the porch of your lakefront home, secure in the comfort of your investments? Perhaps you'll be cruising a river in the chateau district of the Loire Valley, while...
Is This the First Photograph of Abraham Lincoln?
The face stares at us across time, a haunting patina of sadness clinging to its outsized features. It is a strong, young face--surely innocent of, yet somehow foreshadowing, the bloody future that lay ahead for America. Its owners say it is the very...
Pulling Strings
I no longer remember the exact date; I can only recall the stark terror of the event. Sometime during the fall of 1979, my employer summoned me to the studio for an emergency rehearsal. I was working as a puppeteer for a little, old-fashioned Manhattan-based...
Reinventing Government, 1882
The explicit premise behind this column, it should be clear to regular readers, is borrowed from Ecclesiastes (or Koheleth) and declares that "there is no new thing under the sun." It is sometimes hard to justify; I am not sure what Ecclesiastes would...
The Haunted Major
It was a legend of myth and fear, this bloodied gown visited by ghosts. It had formed the subject of a short book. It had witnessed supreme tragedy and brought new tragedy--madness, murder, they said; and finally the bricked-in closet where it had...
The Mother of Us All
Ethel Waters was an innovative and terrifically influential singer, and she broke through racial barriers in movies, theater, nightclubs, radio, film, and television, opening doors for everyone who came after her. She deserves to be much better remembered....
The Padre's House
In 1804 a Pueblo Indian sold his four-room adobe house in the farming community of Taos, New Mexico, to Don Severino Martinez, a Spanish trader. No other details of this transaction are recorded, although the dwelling was to become famous--both for...