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Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I saved!

Thanks to an outpouring of support from the public and big donations from private organizations, the Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I has been purchased by the Royal Museums Greenwich for £10 million ($13,225,500). It will now enter public ownership for the first time in its more than four centuries of existence. The Royal Museums [...]

When Gen. Gage Proclaimed Martial Law

I sometimes see people write that the arrival of Gen. Thomas Gage as royal governor of Massachusetts in May 1774 placed the town of Boston under “martial law.” That’s a misunderstanding.Gage was indeed commander-in-chief of the British...Show More Summary

A Civil War Battle Anniversary

Today is the 152nd anniversary of the battle of the Crater. For those of you new to the blog, this is a battle that I spent a number of years researching first as a masters thesis at the University of Richmond and later as the subject of my first book, Remembering The Battle of the […]

New Histories of the Texas Tower Shootings, 50 Years Later

A graduate class at the University of Texas at Austin has put together a new website about the mass shooting at the university, which took place fifty years ago Monday. On August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman, a student and former serviceman,...Show More Summary

East Cemetery Hill Restoration Update

We checked in on the demolition progress at the Civil War Trust’s property on East Cemetery Hill yesterday evening. We last stopped by this property two weeks ago – we’re standing on Wainright Avenue, looking up at the rear of the house on Hillcrest Place. Show More Summary

The Workings of Gradual Emancipation in Pennsylvania

In 1780, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a law ending slavery in the state—but not yet. This blog post from the Manuscripts and Archives Department of the Yale University Library explains:The Act, which represented an early approach by a U.S. Show More Summary

Grave of early Celtic woman found in Germany

The burial an early Celtic woman with rich grave goods was unearthed last August at Kirchheim unter Teck, 20 or so miles southeast of Stuttgart in the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg. State Conservation Office archaeologists had been excavating the site slated for development on the outskirts of city since July of 2014, a comprehensive [...]

What Bill O’Reilly Doesn’t Understand About Slavery

Bill O’Reilly, historian, has had quite the week. On Tuesday night, responding to Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, the Fox News host pointed out—just as a point of interest!—that slaves working on the construction...Show More Summary

Spanish colonial adobe bricks found at the Alamo

The Alamo Mission of San Antonio, location of an 1836 battle during the Texas Revolution that has attained legendary status and given the site reputation as “the shrine of Texas liberty,” is Texas’ greatest tourist draw, with approximately 2.5 million visitors a year. It isn’t in the greatest condition, however. Many of its walls were [...]

The “unutterable things” of Gen. Charles Lee

In the movie Bull Durham, the veteran catcher counsels the hot pitching prospect, “Win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back on your shower shoes and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you’re a slob.” The reverse process happened to Gen. Show More Summary

Stinky cheese found on 17th c. Swedish shipwreck

Divers have recovered a tin of very old, very stinky cheese from the wreck of the Swedish royal ship Kronan off the coast of Öland in the Baltic Sea. The ship went down in 1676, so the cheese is 340 years old. (One hopes it hadn’t been on the ship a full year or more [...]

“What Comes Next?” on Turn: Washington‘s Spies

Yesterday the A.M.C. television channel announced that it had ordered ten more episodes of Turn: Washington’s Spies to make up a fourth and final season of the show.Though the series hasn’t earned stellar ratings or awards, it attracts a steady audience of the young and middle-aged consumers that advertisers like. Show More Summary

Bill O’Reilly’s Benevolent Slaveowners

Bill O’Reilly “just can’t get rid of that history teacher thing.” Last night O’Reilly offered a brief response to Michelle Obama’s DNC Convention speech in which she cited the role of slaves in building the White House. The First Lady used the opportunity to remind her listeners of how far we’ve come as a nation […]

Three Views of Reconstruction

In this brief video, Anne Sarah Rubin, Matthew Pinsker, and Gregory Downs offer their own approach to understanding the challenges and legacy of Reconstruction. This is perfect for classroom use. What I like about it is that it offers students the opportunity to explore how three very talented historians arrive at different conclusions based on […]

Canal system found under Pakal’s tomb

Archaeologists with Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have discovered a system of canals that was built underneath the Temple of Inscriptions in Palenque where the Maya king K’inich Janaab’ Pakal (603-683 A.D.) was buried. The main canal is made of rows of large cut stones, clay and rubble. It has a limestone [...]

Another Watson, Another Shark

Around here, “Watson and the Shark” is the John Singleton Copley painting of Brook Watson’s rescue from a shark in Havana. The Museum of Fine Arts has one of several copies Copley made for Watson.At English Historical Fiction Authors,...Show More Summary

From Camp Slave to Janitor

Here is a wonderful example of how the role of the loyal camp slave during the Civil War served to define and reinforce race relations decades later. In February 1895, Governor William Y. Atkinson appointed Robert Atkinson to the position of janitor at the state capitol in Atlanta, Georgia. The appointment was an acknowledgment of […]

How Should We Refer to the Chevalier D’Eon?

Four years ago I reported on art dealer Philip Mould’s identification of a portrait as showing the Chevalier d’Eon. A French diplomat and spy, D’Eon ran afoul of his own government and took refuge in London. Dressing as a woman while teaching men to fence, D’Eon became a celebrity, eventually claiming to have been a woman all along. Show More Summary

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