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Henry Hulton and “twenty Devils, Popes, & Pretenders”

I’ve focused on Charles Paxton as the chief target of Boston’s Pope Night processions in 1767, but two other new Commissioners of His Majesty’s Customs arrived in Boston on that same Fifth of November.One was Henry Hulton, born in 1732 in Hampshire, England. Show More Summary

Ghent Altarpiece restoration website is a stunner

As part of their 2010 agreement to fund the restoration of the Ghent Altarpiece, the Getty Foundation’s Panel Painting Initiative stipulated that the entire process be documented and photographed in dizzyingly high resolution and every detail from dendrochronology reports to pictures of a few inches worth of newly cleaned paint be uploaded to a dedicated […]

“He fitted himself with a Pair of Women’s Shoes”?

I’ve been discussing the public image of Customs official Charles Paxton (shown here in the Massachusetts Historical Society’s portrait). Paxton’s neighbors teased him for his elaborate courtesy and his bachelor status. A big part of...Show More Summary

See the Borghese Caravaggios in a museum with functional climate control

Giving them a break from the stifling heat, pain-lifting humidity and stench of humanity, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles announced that they will be putting on a rare exhibition of three of the Borghese Gallery’s masterpieces by Michelangelo Merisi, the artist principally known as Caravaggio. The three pieces chosen for this rare […]

“Angry, Scared, Armed People”

For some small subset of right-wing Americans, this random November weekend is going to be big. In his newsletter Right Richter, Will Sommer outlines the Nov. 4 conspiracy theory, which was born on YouTube (where else?): “On Nov. 4,Show More Summary

Another Batch of Previously Withheld JFK Assassination Records Just Went Public

The National Archives has released 676 more records related to the JFK assassination — including 553 previously withheld CIA documents

In Defense of Keeping the Indiana University Mural That Depicts (But Doesn't Glorify) the KKK

American artist Thomas Hart Benton thought it crucial to highlight the dark spots in the state's history

Breaking Down the Numbers of American Immigration

The Pew Research Center lends its expertise to looking at the true population figures

The History of Five Uniquely American Sandwiches

From tuna fish to the lesser-known woodcock, food experts peer under the bread and find the story of a nation

“Poor Charles the batchelor that was once master of the ceremonies”

When I say that Customs official Charles Paxton was “queer,” I’m not claiming to know whom he had sex with, or wanted to have sex with. I’m saying that Bostonians saw something odd in Paxton’s lifestyle and manners, and they teased him for supposedly lacking masculinity. Show More Summary

Charles Paxton, Customs Commissioner

Charles Paxton (1708-1788, shown here in a portrait at the American Antiquarian Society) was a major figure in Boston’s 1767 Pope Night procession.Not as a member of the North End or South End Gangs, to be sure. Paxton was the target...Show More Summary

Photography’s Power in the Civil Rights Movement Had a Tragic Side

These photos, on display in a new exhibition at Atlanta's High Museum, underscore the influence of photography in the civil-rights era

A Civil War Historian’s Talking Points

Yesterday historian Aaron Astor posted a list of talking points on his Facebook page that he utilizes when discussing the Civil War with the general public. It is well worth […]

Vivid color and a prosciutto clock from Pompeii

By a series of link-hops that began with archaic Greece and what I hope will soon be a post of its own (it all depends on whether I can get my grubby mits on good pictures), today I wound up in Pompeii. With a prosciutto. A prosciutto-shaped sundial, to be exact. It was portable, as […]

The True History Behind the LBJ Movie

What to know about President Johnson's career before you see Rob Reiner's cinematic take on the 36th President of the United States

Is it Time We Built a Museum of the History of American History?

A better understanding of how we interpret our past, and what and who we choose to remember, would go a long way to healing our nation’s wounds

Concentration Camps Existed Long Before Auschwitz

From Cuba to South Africa, the advent of barbed wire and automatic weapons allowed the few to imprison the many

Pictish stone with fearsome derriere found

Pictish stones are usually abstract designs or animal figures that are stylized enough to look abstract to the untrained eye. That’s why they’re known as “symbol stones,” and why even experts don’t know what all of the symbols recorded from the 350 or so known Pictish stones represent. One theory is that they could be […]

A Stone For Captain Fisher. . .

When last in Pottsville, I took a quick drive through the Odd Fellows' Cemetery, where the remains of many 48th Pennsylvania soldiers were laid to rest. Near the plot of those who died or were killed in the Civil War, I was happy to see a new headstone, one for Peter Fisher, a First Defender and a Captain of Company D, 48th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Show More Summary

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