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The future of historical content delivery?

Since I’ve officially (as of Thursday night) launched on my next great adventure in academia, as a PhD student in Writing and Rhetoric, I’ve decided it might be a good idea to begin a spin-off blog. Even if you don’t necessarily “geek out” over “writing as process”, rhetoric, Augmented Reality, or all that stuff… you […]

Just a Few Revisions Here and There

The Amendments to the U.S. Constitution that we think of as the Bill of Rights are rooted mostly in James Madison’s fourth and fifth proposed amendments from June 1789:Fourthly,That in article 2st, section 9, between clauses 3 and 4,...Show More Summary

Mercy Street/Episode 2, “The Haversack”

Last night episode 2 of Mercy Street aired. The main characters continue to be developed and you probably now have a better sense of the main themes that are now coming into clearer view as well as the trajectory of the overall narrative. What do you think so far? What […]

The two-day snowstorm wouldn’t have fazed Confederate soldiers who lived through the ‘Frozen Campaign’

Hey, Virginia? You think you have it bad with all that snow? Consider what happened to Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and 9,000 of his men when they set off from Winchester, Va., on Jan. 1, 1862, to raid Romney, Va. (now West Virginia), a Union stronghold. The day was in the mid-50s when they departed. […]

James Madison’s Bill of Rights

On 8 June 1789 James Madison arose in the U.S. House of Representatives and stated that the time had come to discuss amending the Constitution that had created that legislative body. After all, it had been meeting for two months already.There...Show More Summary

‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands; being some notes on money

In the current Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal Michael W. Clune1 writes about odd small episodes, “particularly ephemeral perceptual experiences” we have that may alert us to the gap between how things seem and what they are. Riffing on Rei Terada’s Looking Away, he lists mirages, after-images; “clouds taken for mountains … looking at […]

Mercy Street: A Reading List

Thought I would put together a short reading list for those of you watching Mercy Street. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. Rather, it offers a few suggestions to help get you started. Feel free to add further suggestions in the comments section below. George Kundahl’s Alexandria […]

Robert Whitehill and the Campaign for a Bill of Rights

Robert Whitehill (1738-1813) was a farmer and politician from central Pennsylvania. He was in the group of democrats who created the state’s 1776 constitution, which started with a Declaration of Rights. When Pennsylvania held a convention to decide whether to ratify the new U.S. Show More Summary

The Father of the Bill of Rights

If we Google “Father of the Bill of Rights,” the name that pops up more than any other is George Mason of Virginia.It’s true that ExplorePAHistory says of Robert Whitehill, “it is not too much of an exaggeration to call him the father...Show More Summary

Birthplaces of the Bill of Rights

Where was the Bill of Rights born? In Parliament in 1689, as a codification of the Glorious Revolution that deposed King James II and brought his daughter Mary and her husband, Prince William of Orange, to the throne of England, Wales, and Scotland.Here’s the text of that bill from the Avalon Project at Yale Law School. Show More Summary

Inaugurate when convenient.

A year from today, the US will inaugurate a new president. But inauguration day has not always been thus fixed. In the early years of the Republic, habit (rather than statute) placed the date of inauguration at March 4—though even that convention was not quite firm. In 1821, with the incumbent President James Monroe about […]

Preserving the Truth about the James Bell Tavern

I’ve seen a lot of news stories about the interrupted demolition of a stone building on the Harrisburg Pike in Silver Spring Township, Pennsylvania. Most recently this building was Stone House Autos, and before that it was Stone House...Show More Summary

How “Finding Your Roots” Manipulates the Past

Last night I caught part of Season 3 of Finding Your Roots, which included an episode about Keenen Ivory Wayans. The recent controversy involving Henry Louis Gates and Ben Affleck left me wondering if any substantial changes would be made to the show. It didn’t take long to answer. FYR is pretty good at “finding” […]

A wreck by any other name: on the inadequacy of “Great Recession”

I dislike the term “Great Recession” to describe our times, for technical and political reasons alike. Technically, the severe recession ended in June 2009. But, as the NBER says there, In determining that a trough occurred in June 2009, the committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that […]

“What have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”

Yesterday I had a Twitter discussion about a well-known anecdote about the Constitution—whether it was equally well-founded in documents, less well-founded in reminiscences, or most likely myth.In this, case, the story falls into the first category. Show More Summary

No Birthday Cake for George Washington

This month Scholastic published a book about Hercules, the Washingtons’ cook at Mount Vernon and Philadelphia in the 1790s. And this week Scholastic decided to pull that book from circulation. As The Guardian reported:A Birthday Cake...Show More Summary

Arrived at “Mercy Street”

Last night PBS aired the first episode of its Civil War drama, Mercy Street. As some of you know I had a chance to preview the first season (6 episodes). My review will soon be available at The Daily Beast, but I should warn you that it covers the entire season. You can also read […]

Elkanah Watson’s “embryo military duties”

I’m skeptical about a bunch of the stories Elkanah Watson told in his memoir, Men and Times of the Revolution, but I like this early anecdote of growing up in Plymouth:I remained at the ordinary common-school until the age of fourteen. Show More Summary

The Powder Horn’s Alexander Hamilton

The most laughable eighteenth-century-related news story of the past week was the sale of the powder horn shown above on the basis that it was owned by Alexander Hamilton, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. That particular report even states,...Show More Summary

Book Prizes from the A.H.A.

At their meeting earlier this month, the members of the American Historical Association announced the winners of their awards for books, other media, and teaching. The Littleton-Griswold Prize for book on “the history of U.S. law and...Show More Summary

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