American history

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New Theory May Explain Mrs. Lincoln's Odd Behavior

Doctor thinks Mary Todd Lincoln suffered a vitamin deficiency

(Newser) - She's been described as perhaps the most troubled first lady to set foot in the White House, with fearsome moods, depression, and paranoia. Now a doctor says he may have uncovered the secret to Mary Todd Lincoln's behavior: a vitamin deficiency. Interestingly, this latest theory in Perspectives in ... More »

Scientists Study Lost Site of Largest Native American Massacre

Cavalrymen killed at least 250 Shoshone men, women, children in Idaho in 1863

(Newser) - By the end of that frigid day in January 1863, the blood of at least 250 men, women, and children stained the ground in Idaho. But rather than occupying a dark place in American history, the victims of the nation's single largest Native American massacre—Shoshone Indians slaughtered in... More »

The Man Who Built Sears Built Something Much More Incredible

New documentary explores Julius Rosenwald's philanthropy

(Newser) - Julius Rosenwald is well known as the 20th-century American businessman who co-founded what we now call Sears. But a new documentary by Aviva Kempner explores Rosenwald's lesser-known role as a Jewish philanthropist who brought education to thousands of African-American children at a time when most had no schools to... More »

New Texas Texts: Slavery Was 'Side Issue' of Civil War

It was mainly states' rights that was war's impetus, per state education standards

(Newser) - About 5 million Texas schoolchildren will get their hands on brand-new social studies textbooks when school starts up again, the Houston Chronicle reports—textbooks that USA Today says are "misleading, racially prejudiced, and, at times, flat-out false." The beef with the new primers: They're in keeping with... More »

Washington, Lincoln, Nixon Were Gay: New Book

Larry Kramer's new book is ruffling feathers, dividing critics

(Newser) - George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were gay. So were Alexander Hamilton, Herman Melville, and Richard Nixon—at least according to a new book that the author considers true but his publisher is selling as fiction to avoid legal problems, the Guardian reports. Needless to say, Larry Kramer's 800-page The ... More »

After 150 Years, Civil War Slave's Story Rewritten

Death records show Hannah Reynolds died a free woman

(Newser) - A Civil War cannonball that ripped through the cabin of Hannah Reynolds' master made her a footnote of misfortune, the lone civilian death at the Battle of Appomattox Court House. She died a slave at 60, hours before the war to end slavery unofficially came to a close. Or maybe... More »

Washington Counties Battle for Title of First

And Maryland may be the winner

(Newser) - The US has no shortage of Washington Counties. There's one in Maryland, one in Pennsylvania, another in Georgia, and one in Tennessee, to name just a few. And all of those claim to have been the first named after the first president, the Wall Street Journal reports. A monument... More »

Deeded to God, Healing Springs Draw Believers

South Carolina Healing Springs are site of 1781 legend

(Newser) - A natural spring in South Carolina was deeded to God, and those who have visited it over the past 233 years have no trouble seeing why. "I'd take a shower in it if I could," Annabelle Galik says of the Healing Springs of Barnwell County. "Jesus... More »

In Southern Genes, 'Black' and 'White' Get a Little Gray

Many white people have black ancestry, vice versa

(Newser) - A simple cheek swab can reveal a lot about your DNA, and for 6 million Americans who identify as white, mostly in the South, that swab has revealed African ancestry hidden in their genes, the Washington Post reports. One in 10 Southerners have at least 1% African origins, and the... More »

Piece of America's Slavery History Uncovered

Dig finds timbers from Gadsden's Wharf

(Newser) - Over the course of just a few decades at the turn of the 19th century, some 100,000 slaves arrived in the US at Gadsden's Wharf, in Charleston, South Carolina. With a new African American Museum set to begin construction at the site in 2016, researchers decided to launch... More »

Ship That Doomed France's Colonial Land Grab Is Reborn

La Belle sunk in 1686 as La Salle failed to settle Texas, Southwest

(Newser) - A 17th-century shipwreck rebuilt inside a Texas museum will let visitors walk the deck of a frigate whose sinking some 330 years ago explains why no one speaks French in Texas, the AP reports. The doomed La Belle was France's last hope to settle Texas and the American southwest,... More »

More Denver Students Walk Out in History Protest

They say school board wants to whitewash America's past

(Newser) - High school students in a big Colorado district walked out for the third straight day today to protest proposed changes to their history curriculum. Today's protests, the largest yet, mean that about half of all high school students in Jefferson County have participated this week, reports the Denver Post... More »

Want a Lighthouse? Feds Giving Them Away

100 sold in 14 years, unknown number still available

(Newser) - Ever wish your man cave or summer retreat was in a lighthouse? You may be in luck, now that the federal government is selling or giving away dozens of them, the AP reports. They've shed 100 obsolete or unneeded lighthouses in 14 years, 68 of them freebies handed off... More »

Buffett's Son Buys Rosa Parks Items, Will Donate Them

Collection includes hat she may have worn on famous bus ride

(Newser) - One lucky museum will be getting a treasure trove in the form of hundreds of items belonging to civil rights icon Rosa Parks. A foundation run by Howard Buffett, son of Warren, has purchased the items—including a postcard from Martin Luther King Jr. and a hat Parks may have... More »

TB's Arrival in New World: Blame Seals

New study also suggests TB is only 6K years old

(Newser) - Tuberculosis may have reached the New World long before Christopher Columbus ever sailed the ocean blue, a new study suggests. Scientists have examined 1,000-year-old Peruvian bones mysteriously infected with TB—500 years before the arrival of Spaniards, who are historically blamed for bringing TB to the New World, Nature ... More »

Tree Rings Solve Mystery of Old World Trade Center Ship

Study shows it got built in Philadelphia about 1773

(Newser) - A mystery ship unearthed during construction of the new World Trade Center site isn't so much of a mystery anymore. A new study based on analysis of tree rings in its wood reveals that the ship likely got built in 1773 in Philadelphia—and with the same white oak... More »

Declaration of Independence Transcript May Hold Error

In the form of a period, says Danielle Allen

(Newser) - It's being hailed as "the battle of the period." Is a small spec of ink that appears on the Declaration of Independence a period or not? In a draft paper that one historian calls "a remarkably convincing piece of detective work," Danielle Allen argues that... More »

How WWII Researchers Starved Men in Minnesota

Scientists wanted to see effects of limited food

(Newser) - With those in occupied territories during World War II facing the threat of starvation, American researchers sought to learn more about the effects of limited food—by starving their own subjects. "Will you starve that they be better fed?" asked a volunteer-seeking brochure showing children on its cover. Hundreds... More »

Is Your Beard Racist?

Style's history is pretty tangled, writes Sean Trainor

(Newser) - These days, beards are big, in all senses of the word. But most of those wearing them probably have little idea of their troubled history in the US—one that is inextricably linked with racism and sexism, writes Sean Trainor in the Atlantic . For free black men in the early... More »

Attic Find: 'One-of-a-Kind' 1775 Revolution Letter

A Continental Congress plea to the British people for reconciliation

(Newser) - A "one-of-a-kind document" James Madison once raved about has been discovered in the attic of George Washington's headquarters during the Revolutionary War. Emilie Gruchow of Manhattan's Morris-Jumel Mansion stumbled upon the yellowed, 12-page plea from the Continental Congress to the British people for reconciliation last summer in... More »

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