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Table of Contents - February 2012 American History

Originally published on Published Online: November 30, 2011 
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George Washington's Moral Metamorphosis
How a young soldier whose greed for land led him to cheat some of his men became the genuine paragon of American virtue
by Woody Holton

Secret Doomsday Bunker
Inside the West Virginia resort where Congress was supposed to go when the bombs dropped
by Peter Carlson

Surrounded by Alligators
America's fearless first naturalist William Bartram left us a thrilling eyewitness account of his journey through Florida swampland in 1774

Vigilante Justice
Lynching emerged from a tradition of Americans taking the law into their own hands that predates the Revolution
by Reed Karaim

Building a Better Mousetrap
The inventive spirit is celebrated in an exhibit of patent models that includes an 1871 washing machine, a convertible Victorian sofa and a nifty trap-door mousetrap
by Claudia Glenn Dowling

Are You as Smart as an Immigrant?
Take the history and civics exam that is required to become a naturalized U.S. citizen


New exhibit explores slave life at Monticello; Hamilton's house gets makeover; ironclad Monitor gives up secrets; and more

The Big Picture
How the penny went from coin of the realm to useless pocket change

We've Been Here Before
The longest presidential campaign

The First
Best-selling diet book

Frontiersman Kit Carson dines with a phlegmatic President James Polk

Gangster Al Capone's bulletproof, speedy and versatile 1928 Cadillac

Steven Pinker reveals why the U.S. is more violent than Europe

Letter From American History
Washington: too good to be true?

Aaron Burr's Bonaparte-esque ambitions; James Madison's political foresight; the iconic Eames chair; and our postal mess

From America's Attic
Helen Keller's pocket watch

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