American history

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$3 Estate Sale Find Gives Up a Treasure Trove

...but New Jersey stakes claim on rare documents

(Newser) - A Toronto woman spotted a $3 box of documents at a Buffalo estate sale; at the time, "I had no sense of their history or value," she says. Turns out they were worth a heck of a lot more: One was signed by Benjamin Franklin's illegitimate son,...

When Has Congress Declared War?

Hill hasn't formally declared war since 1942

(Newser) - With President Obama turning to Congress for a decision on Syria, BuzzFeed offers a quick Hill history lesson. Congress hasn't formally declared war since 1942, the site notes. But before that, it wasn't such a rare move:
  1. Congress backed war against Britain in 1812, by way of a
...

Did Washington Name Our Country?

Aide's 1776 letter calls it 'United States of America'

(Newser) - It makes sense that the father of our country would have named it, too—and new evidence suggests that may just be the case. History hasn't quite settled on who coined the term "the United States of America," though in 1998, experts announced that it was Thomas...

Sonar Image May Show Earhart's Plane

Off island of Nikumaroro

(Newser) - A team of experts that has been chasing Amelia Earhart's elusive trail for years may be closer than ever to solving the mystery of her 1937 disappearance. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) had more than a decade ago pinpointed the Pacific island of Nikumaroro as the...

Ben Franklin Tried to Change Our Alphabet

His phonetic approach never took off

(Newser) - If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, he'd probably be a dynamite texter. As Smithsonian explains, Franklin once designed a phonetic alphabet for the nation because he thought the one in place was too unwieldy. Alas, it never caught on. Some highlights of his "A Reformed Mode of Spelling,...

Secrets of 1780s POW Camp Buried in Pennsylvania

English, Scottish, and Canadian soldiers were imprisoned at Camp Security

(Newser) - The mud of a south-central Pennsylvania cornfield may soon produce answers about the fate of British prisoners of war—and the newly independent Americans who guarded them—during the waning years of the American Revolution. A few miles east of York, the city that briefly served as the fledgling nation'...

Obama Now Faces the '2nd-Term Curse'

Ever since George Washington, it's been a tough 4 years

(Newser) - The election is in the bag, but the fight isn't over for President Obama. Now he must fend off the so-called "second-term curse" that has dogged presidents from George Washington to George W, writes Adam Clymer in the New York Times . Washington faced protests over a post-Revolutionary War...

Mag Posts &#39;Conservative Version&#39; of History
 Mag Posts 'Conservative 
 Version' of History 
new yorker

Mag Posts 'Conservative Version' of History

'The New Yorker' assembles history using quotes from conservatives

(Newser) - A "liberal version" of history might also make for good reading, but the New Yorker has beaten conservatives to the punch by posting "A Conservative History of the United States." Here are a few key moments, each inspired by a rather inventive quotation:

Hitler's Nephew to FDR: Can I Fight for US?

William Patrick Hitler's letter published online

(Newser) - Adolf Hitler's nephew was determined to fight in World War II—against his uncle. William Patrick Hitler fled Germany for New York in 1939, and in 1942 sought Franklin D. Roosevelt's permission to join the US military; he wrote that his "difficult and singular situation" could be...

Civil War Death Toll Boosted 20%

 Civil War Death Toll 
 Boosted 20% 
new census study

Civil War Death Toll Boosted 20%

War claimed close to 750K lives: historian

(Newser) - The deadliest war in American history was even more devastating than long believed, especially for the South, according to a historian. The Civil War death toll of 618,222—360,222 from the North and 258,000 Southerners—has been in history books for more than a century. But J....

Santorum: Calif. Schools Don't Teach US History

Republican candidate slams California universities

(Newser) - Rick Santorum continued his verbal assault on higher education today by accusing California universities of failing to "even teach an American history course." The GOP candidate slammed UC universities during a speech in Wisconsin, Mediaite reports, saying that "I think it's seven or eight" schools that...

Henry Peter Bosse Photographs of Mississippi River Worth $4.5M
 Photo Album Worth $4.5M 

Photo Album Worth $4.5M

Historic Henry Peter Bosse images show river in 1880s

(Newser) - Few have heard of Henry Peter Bosse, but his 19th-century photographs have earned a home in a federal vault—and a single album is worth $4.5 million. Sotheby's recently appraised the album, which illustrates the changing Mississippi River in the 1880s, and its value had quadrupled over 20...

Bid to Repeal Gay History Law in California Fails

Petition doesn't get enough signatures to force vote

(Newser) - A win for gay rights advocates in California: Opponents hoped to repeal a new law that requires public schools to teach about the contributions of gay people, but they failed to get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, reports the San Francisco Chronicle . That means the law will take...

Time to End Myth About 'Stable' Slave Families

Bachmann's vow is part of a 'deliberate amnesia' on slavery

(Newser) - There’s a persistent myth in America that slavery was “an idyllic world of stable families headed by married parents," writes Tera Hunter—a myth that Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum’s endorsement of the “Marriage Vow” served to highlight. It’s time for us to understand...

Less Than 25% of Students Proficient in US History

12% of seniors scored at a level showing solid academic performance

(Newser) - A new national assessment finds that less than a quarter of students are proficient in US history. The 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress tested students on topics such as the American Revolution, Civil War, and the contemporary US. Just 20% of fourth-grade students, 17% of eighth-graders, and an especially...

Historians Say Palin Was Right About Paul Revere

But they admit it begrudgingly, notes the 'Boston Herald'

(Newser) - Sarah Palin insists her claim that Paul Revere "warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms" was actually not a flub , and it turns out some historians are backing her up on this one—reluctantly, notes the Boston Herald . In a 1798 letter...

High Schooler to Michele Bachmann: Let's Debate Constitution and US History
High Schooler to Bachmann:
Let's Debate History
in case you missed it

High Schooler to Bachmann: Let's Debate History

Teen calls her grasp of civics 'grossly distorted'

(Newser) - Concerned that Michele Bachmann’s take on US civics is “factually incorrect, inaccurately applied or grossly distorted,” a New Jersey teen has challenged the Minnesota representative to a debate on US history and the Constitution, the Minnesota Independent reports. “The frequent inability you have shown to accurately...

America's Best Record Collection Takes Shape

Library of Congress announcing plan to expand public access

(Newser) - A former nuclear fallout shelter near the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia is now home to the nation's musical and cinematic history over the past century. The Library of Congress's state-of-the-art $250 million Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation contains nearly 100 miles of shelves and 6 million goodies—...

Battlefield Recounts May Rewrite Civil War History

Virginia could overtake North Carolina in number of soldier deaths

(Newser) - With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War approaching, North Carolina and Virginia have commissioned official recounts of how many soldiers each state lost in battle. What sounds like a humdrum exercise is producing surprising results, reports the Wall Street Journal : North Carolina has long laid claim to losing the...

Historian Faked Date on Key Lincoln Artifact

Researcher 'rewrote history,' says archivist

(Newser) - An Abraham Lincoln researcher has confessed to changing the date on a Lincoln document, effectively altering history for his own gain, AOL News reports. Thomas Lowry changed the date from April 14, 1864, to 1865—the date of Lincoln's assassination—so that it would seem he’d discovered one of...

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