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U.S. Presidents

There have been 43 presidents. The youngest president was John F. Kennedy at age 43. The oldest was Ronald Reagan at age 69. Franklin D. Roosevelt served the longest, serving four terms (he died in his 4th term. The longest-serving president was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died shortly into his fourth term in office. (The 22nd Amendment, ratified in 1951, limited to two the number of presidential terms one person could serve.) The shortest serving president was William Henry Harrison, who died from pneumonia after a month in office.

List of the United States Presidents By Date

George Washington (1789-97): George Washington is a well-known historical figure and was the first president of the United States of America after leading the Continental army in a victory for independence. Read more about George Washington.

John Adams (1797-1801): John Adams served as the vice president to George Washington before going on to become the second president of the United States of America. Later his son, John Quincy Adams was also president. Read more about John Adams.

Thomas Jefferson (1801-09): Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States of America and was responsible for the purchase of Louisiana. He served as president for two terms. Read more about Thomas Jefferson.

James Madison (1809-17): James Madison was the 4th president of the United States of America. He is often touted as the father of the Constitution because of the work he did on the Constitution. . Read more about James Madison.

James Monroe (1817-25)

John Quincy Adams (1825-29): John Quincy Adams was the son of John Adams who served as Washington’s vice president and as President. He was the sixth president of the United States. Read more about John Quincy Adams.

Andrew Jackson (1829-37): He was known as Old Hickory for his strength of character. Despite modern criticisms over his handling of the North American Indians and his pro-slavery stance, he is otherwise regarded as a great defender of democracy who kept America united over as difficult period of time. Read more about Andrew Jackson.

Martin Van Buren (1837-41)

William Henry Harrison (1841)

John Tyler (1841-45)

James K. Polk (1845-49)

Zachary Taylor (1849-50)

Millard Fillmore (1850-53)

Franklin Pierce (1853-57)

James Buchanan (1857-61)

Abraham Lincoln (1861-65): Abraham Lincoln led the nation through its most trying time, the civil war. A notable statesman and orator, he is one of the most popular presidents in history. He was assassinated by John WIlkes Boothe. Read more about Abraham Lincoln.

Andrew Johnson (1865-69): Andrew Johnson was the 17th president of the United States of America and born in 1808. He took over the presidency after Lincoln was shot and killed. Read more about Andrew Johnson.

Ulysses S. Grant (1869-77)

Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881)

James Garfield (1881)

Chester Arthur (1881-85)

Grover Cleveland (1885-89)

Benjamin Harrison (1889-93)

Grover Cleveland (1893-97)

William McKinley (1897-1901)

Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09): Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th president of the United States of America. He is known for his work on the Square Deal, on Environmental projects and for leading the Progressive Movement. Read more about Theodore Roosevelt.

William Howard Taft (1909-13)

Woodrow Wilson (1913-21): Woodrow Wilson was a president that had a successful agenda larger than most. His years in officer were from 1913-1921 and an important part of World War I. Read more about Woodrow Wilson.

Warren Harding (1921-23)

Calvin Coolidge (1923-29)

Herbert Hoover (1929-33): Herbert Hoover was the 31st president of the United States of America. Before becoming president he was head of the Food Administration. He was president during the Great Stock Market crash of 1929. Read more about Herbert Hoover.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-45): After graduating from Harvard, Roosevelt went on to marry Eleanor and have 6 children. He served as Secretary of the Navy and Governor of New York before becoming President of the USA. Read more about Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Harry S. Truman (1945-53): Harry S. Truman became the President of the US after Roosevelt died in office and was re-elected for a second term. He made the decision to release the atomic bomb over Japan. Read more about Harry S. Truman.

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-61): Eisenhower became the Chief Military in aid to General MacArthur and was elevated by Roosevelt to Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. He was successful with many strategies against Germany in WWII. Read more about Dwight D Eisenhower.

John F. Kennedy (1961-63): John F. Kennedy could perhaps be one of the most famous presidents the United States has had. On 11/22/1963 he was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. Read more about John F. Kennedy.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-69): Lyndon Johnson or LBJ was the 36th president of the United States of America and started his term after JFK was assassinated in 1963. He helped with Medicare and Medicaid. Read more about Lyndon B. Johnson.

Richard Nixon (1969-74): Richard Nixon was the 37th president of the United States of America. Though he passed many important and necessary changes he is most known for the Watergate Scandal. Read more about Richard Nixon.

Gerald Ford (1974-77)

James Carter (1977-81)

Ronald Reagan (1981-89): Ronald Reagan was a fairly well-known actor before he ran and was elected for the President of the United States of America two terms in a row. Read more about Ronald Reagan.

George H.W. Bush (1989-93): George H. W. Bush was the 41st president of the Unite States and a Republican. During his presidency the Soviet Union dissolved, Suddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and Noriega lost dictatorship of Panama. Read more about George H.W. Bush.

William J. Clinton (1993-2001): Bill Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States of America and then served two terms. His wife, Hilary Clinton also serves as very important political figure. Read more about Bill Clinton.

George W. Bush (2001-09)

Barack Obama (2009- )


Articles Featuring US Presidents From History Net Magazines

Featured Article

1796: The First Real Election

1796: The First Real Election
1796: The First Real Election



On the day in April 1789 that he took the oath of office at Federal Hall in New York City as the first president of the United States, George Washington noted in his diary: "I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity, and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express."

Washington, who embodied the virtues exalted by his generation, had been given the unanimous vote of the new nation’s electors. He had done nothing to promote himself as a candidate for the presidency and had agreed to undertake the mammoth task with the utmost reluctance. Whatever his personal misgivings, Washington’s first term in office went smoothly. It was so successful, in fact, that in 1792 he once again received the electors’ unanimous endorsement.

Such smooth sailing of the ship of state could not be expected to last, however, and during President Washington’s second term, the United States–and thus its chief executive–began to experience the kinds of problems that plague any government. Relations with the former "mother country" deteriorated until it seemed that another war with Great Britain might be inevitable. And on the domestic front, groups of farmers, especially those in the westernmost counties of Pennsylvania, protested and rebelled against the Washington administration’s excise tax on the whiskey that they distilled from their grain, eventually rioting in the summer of 1794.

The hero of America’s revolution also suffered personal attacks on his character. Rumors had it that Washington was given to "gambling, reveling, horseracing and horse whipping" and that he had even taken British bribes while he was commanding American troops.

During the last weeks of 1795, reports spread through Philadelphia–then the national capital–that Washington planned to retire at the conclusion of his second term. It was true that similar rumors had circulated three years before, as the end of his first term drew near, but this time it appeared that he was determined to step down. Nearing his mid-sixties–a normal life span for a man in the eighteenth century–the president longed to retire to the tranquility of Mount Vernon, his beloved home in Virginia.

Although Washington said nothing to John Adams regarding his plans for retirement, his wife Martha hinted to the vice president near Christmas 1795 that her husband would be leaving office. Ten days later, Adams learned that the president had informed his cabinet that he would step down in March 1797.* "You know the Consequences of this, to me and to yourself," Adams, aware that he might become the second president of the United States, wrote to his wife Abigail that same evening.

Adams’s ascension to the presidency would be neither automatic nor unanimous. Before achieving that high office, he would have to emerge victorious from America’s first contested presidential election.

* The March 4 date for the beginning of new terms of office went back to tradition begun under the Articles of Confederation and codified by Congressional legislation in 1792. The Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1933, specified that henceforth Congressional terms would begin on January 3 and that an incoming president and vice president would take their oaths of office at noon on January 20 of the year following their election.

Eight years earlier, in September 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention had considered numerous plans for choosing a president. They had rejected direct election by qualified voters because, as Roger Sherman of Connecticut remarked, a scattered population could never "be informed of the characters of the leading candidates." The delegates also ruled out election by Congress. Such a procedure, Gouverneur Morris stated, would inevitably be "the work of intrigue, cabal and of faction."

Finally, the convention agreed to an electoral college scheme, whereby "Each state shall appoint in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress." Presidential selection, therefore, would be decided through a state-by-state, rather than a national, referendum.

Each elector chosen by the voters or the legislature of his state would cast votes for two candidates, one of whom had to come from outside his state. The electors’ ballots would be opened in the presence of both houses of Congress.

* Not since 1824 has the winner of a presidential contest been decided by the House of Representatives. In that year, John Quincy Adams gained the presidency when one more than half of the members of the House cast their ballots in his favor, giving him the necessary majority.

If no one received a majority of the votes, or if two or more individuals tied with a majority of the electoral college votes, the members of the House of Representatives would cast ballots to elect the president.* Once the president had been decided upon, the candidate from among those remaining who had received the second largest number of electoral votes became the vice president.
The framers of the Constitution believed that most electors would judiciously cast their two ballots for persons of "real merit," as Morris put it. Alexander Hamilton argued in Federalist 68–one of a series of essays penned by Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay to encourage ratification of the Constitution in New York State–that it was a "moral certainty" that the electoral college scheme would result in the election of the most qualified man. Someone skilled in the art of intrigue might win a high state office, he wrote, but only a man nationally known for his "ability and virtue" could gain the support of electors from throughout the United States.

Indeed, the "electoral college" plan worked well during the first two presidential elections in 1788 and 1792, when every elector had cast one of his ballots for Washington. But by 1796, something unforeseen by the delegates to the Constitutional Convention had occurred; men of different points of view had begun to form themselves into political parties.

The first signs of such factionalism appeared early in Washington’s presidency. On one side were the Federalists who yearned for an American society and national government established on the British model. Skeptical of the growing democratization of the new nation, the Federalists desired a centralized national government that would have the strength both to aid merchants and manufacturers and to safeguard America’s traditional hierarchical society.

By 1792, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Congressman James Madison–both, like Washington, from Virginia–had taken steps to fashion an opposition party. Jefferson became the acknowledged leader of the new Anti-Federalists, a group soon known as the Democratic-Republican Party because of its empathy for the struggling republic that had emerged from the French Revolution of 1789. This party looked irreverently upon the past, was devoted to republican institutions, sought to give property-owning citizens greater control over their lives, and dreamt of an agrarian nation in which government would be small and weak.

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Members of both parties ran candidates in congressional and state races in 1792, but they did not challenge President Washington. Partisanship, however, did surface that year in the contest for the vice presidency. Some Republicans acted behind the scenes in "support . . . of removing Mr. A," as the clerk of the House noted, mainly because Adams’s writings on government included positive statements about the British monarchy. The movement came to naught because it did not have the support of Jefferson, who had known and liked Adams for nearly twenty years. Other Republicans rallied behind George Clinton, the newly elected governor of New York.

The activity of the Republicans threw a scare into the Federalists. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, the acknowledged leader of the Federalists, was so worried that he urged Adams to cut short a vacation and campaign openly against those who were–as he said–"ill disposed" toward him. Adams, who regarded electioneering with contempt, refused to do so and remained on his farm in Quincy, Massachusetts, until after the electors had cast their ballots.

By March 1796, when Washington finally told his vice president that he would not seek reelection, Adams had decided to run for the office of president. His decision was "no light thing," he said, since he knew that as president he would be subjected to "obloquy, contempt, and insult." He even told Abigail that he believed every chief executive was "almost sure of disgrace and ruin." While she had mixed emotions about his decision, she did not discourage him from running. In fact, she told him that the presidency would be a "flattering and Glorious Reward" for his long years of service. Ultimately, Adams decided to seek the office because, he asserted, "I love my country too well to shrink from danger in her service."

As he began his quest, Adams expected formidable opposition, especially from Jefferson. He foresaw three possible outcomes to the election: he might garner the most votes, with Jefferson running second; Jefferson might win and John Jay of New York, long a congressman and diplomat, could finish second; or Jefferson might be elected president, while he was himself reelected vice president. That last scenario was not one Adams was prepared to accept. He decided that he would not serve another term as vice president; if he finished second again, he declared, he would either retire or seek election to the House of Representatives.

Adams considered himself the "heir apparent" to President Washington, having languished in the vice presidency–which he described as "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived"–for eight years, awaiting his turn. Furthermore, he believed that no man had made greater sacrifices for the nation during the American Revolution than he. In addition to risking his legal career to protest British policies, he sat as a member of the First Continental Congress for three years and served abroad from 1778-88, making two perilous Atlantic crossings to carry out his diplomatic assignments. During that ten years, his public service had forced him to live apart from his wife and five children nearly ninety percent of the time.

Jefferson often proclaimed his disdain for politics, even though he held political office almost continuously for forty years. As 1796 unfolded, he neither made an effort to gain the presidency nor rebuffed the Republican maneuvers to elect him to that office. When he resigned as secretary of state in 1793, Jefferson had said that he did not plan to hold public office again and would happily remain at Monticello, his Virginia estate. But, while he did not seek office in 1796, neither did he say that he would not accept the presidential nomination. Adams –and most Republicans–interpreted Jefferson’s behavior as indicating that he wanted to be president.

The Constitution said nothing about how to select presidential nominees. In 1800, the Republican Party would choose its candidates in a congressional nominating caucus; in 1812, the first nominating conventions were held in several states; and the first national nominating convention took place in 1832. But in 1796, the nominees seemed to materialize out of thin air, as if by magic. In actuality, the party leaders decided on the candidates and attempted to herd their followers into line.

The Federalists’ support centered on Adams and Thomas Pinckney of South Carolina. Pinckney, who had recently negotiated a successful treaty with Spain that established territorial and traffic rights for the United States on the Mississippi River, was chosen for the second slot on the ticket by the party moguls–without consulting Adams–in part because as a Southerner, he might siphon Southern votes from Jefferson.

On the Republican side, Madison confided to James Monroe in February that "Jefferson alone can be started with hope of success, [and we] mean to push him." The Republicans also endorsed Senator Aaron Burr of New York.

All this transpired quietly, for Washington did not publicly announce his intention of retiring until the very end of the summer. Not that the parties’ plans were a mystery. Before Washington finally informed the nation of his decision on September 19, 1796, in his "Farewell Address"–which was not delivered orally but was printed in Philadelphia’s American Daily Advertiser–the keenly partisan Philadelphia Aurora declared that it "requires no talent at divination to decide who will be candidates. . . . Thomas Jefferson & John Adams will be the men."

But Washington’s address, said congressman Fisher Ames of Massachusetts, was "a signal, like dropping a hat, for the party racers to start." During the next ten weeks, the presidential campaign of 1796 was waged, as Federalists and Republicans–with the exception, for the most part, of the candidates themselves–worked feverishly for victory.

Adams, Jefferson, and Pinckney never left home. While their parties took stands on the major issues of the day, these men embraced the classical model of politics, refusing to campaign. They believed that a man should not pursue an office; rather, the office should seek out the man. They agreed that the most talented men–what some called an aristocracy of merit–should govern, but also that ultimate power rested with the people. The qualified voters, or the elected representatives of the people, were capable of selecting the best men from among the candidates on the basis of what Adams called the "pure Principles of Merit, Virtue, and public Spirit."

Burr alone actively campaigned. Although he did not make any speeches, he visited every New England state and spoke with several presidential electors. Many Federalist and Republican officeholders and supporters spoke at rallies, but most of the electioneering took place through handbills, pamphlets, and newspapers.

The campaign was a rough and tumble affair. The Republicans sought to convince the electorate that their opponents longed to establish a titled nobility in America and that Adams–whom they caricatured as "His Rotundity" because of his small, portly stature–was a pro-British monarchist. President Washington was assailed for supporting Hamilton’s aggressive economic program, as well as for the Jay Treaty of 1795, which had settled outstanding differences between the United States and Britain. The Philadelphia Aurora went so far as to insist that the president was the "source of all the misfortunes of our country."

The Federalists responded by portraying Jefferson as an atheist and French puppet who would plunge the United States into another war with Great Britain. They also charged that he was indecisive and a visionary. A "philosopher makes the worst politician," one Federalist advised, while another counseled that Jefferson was "fit to be a professor in a college . . . but certainly not the first magistrate of a great nation." Newspapers such as the Gazette of the United States and Porcupine’s Gazette asserted that Jefferson’s election would result in domestic disorder.

Behind-the-scenes maneuvering included a plan by Hamilton, who felt that Pinckney could be more easily manipulated than Adams, to have one or two Federalist electors withhold their votes for Adams. Hearing rumors of the ploy, several New England electors conferred and agreed not to cast a ballot for Pinckney.

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Even the French minister to the United States, Pierre Adet, became involved in the election by seeking to convey the impression that a victory for Jefferson would result in improved relations with France. As one historian has noted: "Never before or since has a foreign power acted so openly in an American election."

Sixteen states took part in the balloting. The 138 electors were chosen by popular vote in six states and by the state legislatures of the remaining ten. Seventy votes were required to win a majority.

Adams expected to receive all of New England’s 39 votes, but he also had to win all 12 of New York’s votes and 19 from the other middle and southern states to win. He concluded that was impossible, especially after learning of Hamilton’s machinations. On the eve of the electoral college vote, Adams remarked privately that Hamilton had "outgeneraled" all the other politicians and stolen the election for Pinckney.

The electors voted in their respective state capitals on the first Wednesday in December, but the law stipulated that the ballots could not be opened and counted until the second Wednesday in February. And so for nearly seventy days, every conceivable rumor circulated regarding the outcome of the election. By the third week in December, however, one thing was clear, Jefferson could not get seventy votes. Although 63 electors were Southerners, the South was a two-party region, and it was known that Jefferson had not received a vote from every Southern elector. In addition, because the Federalists controlled the legislatures in New York, New Jersey, and Delaware, it was presumed that Jefferson would be shut out in those states.

Beyond that, nothing was certain. Many believed that Pinckney would win, either because of Hamilton’s supposed chicanery or because all "the Jeffs," as Ames called the Southern Republican electors, supposedly had cast their second ballot for the South Carolinian in order to ensure that a Southerner succeed Washington. A good number of Americans fully expected that no candidate would get a majority of the votes, thus sending the election to the House of Representatives.

By the end of December, better information arrived in Philadelphia when Ames informed Adams that he had at least 71 electoral votes. On December 28, Jefferson wrote Adams a congratulatory letter and at Washington’s final levee in 1796, the First Lady told the vice president of her husband’s delight at his victory. Persuaded that he was indeed the victor, an ebullient Adams wrote his wife at year’s end that he had "never felt more serene" in his life.

Finally, on February 8, 1797, the sealed ballots were opened and counted before a joint session of Congress. Ironically, it was Vice President Adams, in his capacity as president of the Senate, who read aloud the results. The tabulation showed that Adams had indeed garnered 71 votes. Every New England and New York elector had voted for him. The tales about Hamilton’s treachery had been untrue; ultimately, the former treasury secretary found the prospect of a Jefferson administration too distasteful to risk the subterfuge necessary to defeat Adams, who also got, as expected, all ten votes from New Jersey and Delaware. And in a sense, Adams won the election in the South, having secured nine votes in Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Jefferson, who finished second with 68 votes, automatically became the new vice president.* One Federalist elector in Virginia, the representative of a western district that long had exhibited hostility toward the planter aristocracy, voted for Adams and Pinckney, as did four electors from commercial, Federalist enclaves in Maryland and North Carolina. Whereas Adams secured enough votes in the South to push him over the top, Jefferson did not receive a single electoral vote in New England or in New York, New Jersey, or Delaware.

Pinckney, not Adams, was the real victim of Hamilton’s rumored duplicity. To ensure that the South Carolinian did not obtain more votes than Adams, 18 Federalist electors in New England refused to give him their vote.
* This first contested presidential election demonstrated a flaw in the Constitution’s electoral college scheme since the country now had a Federalist president and a Republican vice president. Four years later, the two republican candidates, Jefferson and Burr, each received 73 electoral votes. Although it was clear during the election campaign that Jefferson was the presidential candidate and Burr the vice presidential, Burr refused to concede, forcing a vote in the House of Representatives that brought Jefferson into office. To correct these defects the Twelfth Amendment, which provided for separate balloting for president and vice president, was adopted in 1804.


Had Pinckney received 12 of those votes, the election would have been thrown into the House of Representatives. Instead, he finished third with 59 electoral votes.


Burr polled only thirty votes. Southern Republicans–perhaps sharing the sentiment of the Virginia elector who remarked that there were "traits of character" in Burr which "sooner or later will give us much trouble"–rejected him.

Even among the enfranchised citizens, few bothered to cast ballots in this election. In Pennsylvania, a state in which the electors were popularly chosen, only about one-quarter of the eligible voters went to the polls. But the contest in Pennsylvania was an augury of the political changes soon to come. The Republicans swept 14 of the state’s 15 electoral votes, winning in part because they "outpoliticked" their opponents by running better-known candidates for the electoral college and because Minister Adet’s intrusive comments helped Jefferson among Quakers and Philadelphia merchants who longed for peace. Many voters had rejected the Federalist Party because they thought of it as a pro-British, pro-aristocratic party committed to an economic program designed to benefit primarily the wealthiest citizens.

And what occurred in Pennsylvania was not unique. Jefferson won more than eighty percent of the electoral college votes in states outside New England that chose their electors by popular vote. In an increasingly democratic United States, the election of 1796 represented the last great hurrah for the Federalist Party.

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On March 4, 1797, America’s first orderly transferal of power occurred in Philadelphia when George Washington stepped down and John Adams took the oath as the second president of the United States. Many spectators were moved to tears during this emotional affair, not only because Washington’s departure brought an era to a close, but because the ceremony represented a triumph for the republic. Adams remarked that this peaceful event was "the sublimist thing ever exhibited in America." He also noted Washington’s joy at surrendering the burdens of the presidency. In fact, Adams believed that Washington’s countenance seemed to say: "Ay! I am fairly out and you fairly in! See which of us will be the happiest." *

Historian John Ferling is the author of the recently re-released John Adams: A Life (An Owl Book, Henry Holt and Company, 1996, $17.95 paper).

* * * * * * *

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Daily Quiz for January 28, 2010Like Franklin D. Roosevelt, who tried to hide from the public the fact that his polio-weakened legs often required him to use a wheelchair, this president also hid the fact that he frequently needed the aid of crutches.
Letter from American History – June 2009Despite more than two centuries of broken treaties and displacement by white settlers, Native American tribes have not only survived but they retain the legal status of sovereign nations accorded to them by the nation's founders. These issues are explored in an article by Paul VanDevelder.
The Race to MaltaPlagued by the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica, Operation Harpoon is launched to resupply Malta during World War II. This major convoy must fight its way through Axis air and sea defenses. And the Germans and Italians are ready.
Letter From American History – February 2008Jerry’s P.S.: “Now, here’s what I really think.” It’s been nearly a year since his death at age 93, but Gerald Ford is still making news and rewriting some pages of history. In 1973 the affable Michigan congressman was center stage, playing a leading role in one of America’s greatest political and constitutional dramas. In …
Gerald Ford’s Near Miracle of 1976Gerald Ford withstood a challenge by Ronald Reagan within his own party and nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback against Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential election.
Daily Quiz for November 27, 2007The Tower Commission exposed an elaborate network of official deception, private profiteering and White House cover-up in this president?s administration:
Margaret Thatcher: Iron LadyBoth loved and hated, Europe's first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, was something of a political outsider, but she reinvigorated national pride and achieved iconic status in the Conservative Party.
Onward Christian Soldiers: The Story of the Salvation ArmyLong recognized as one of the most efficient and effective private charitable organizations in the world, the Salvation Army works in 109 countries and 175 languages across the globe.
North British Migration: From the Irish Sea to the Allegheny MountainsAs colonial settlement thrived on the Atlantic seaboard, word spread through Britain that in the piedmont and mountains beyond the coast there was land for the taking. From the border counties of England and Scotland, and the Scots-Irish province of Ulster, they came to Appalachia.

By Claire Hopley

USS Missouri: Served in World War II and Korean WarWorld War II ended on the deck of the USS Missouri. Five years later the Korean War broke out--and the 'Mighty Mo' was the only U.S. battleship ready to fight.
Account Of The Battle of the WildernessIn the dark, forbidding woods of Virginia's Wilderness, Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee stumbled blindly toward their first wartime encounter. Neither had a clear idea of his opponent's intentions, but each planned to do what he did best--attack.

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Black Hawk WarOutnumbered and harried through trackless swamps, Black Hawk's starving band of Sauk Indians made a desperate stand along the Mississippi.
Nineteen Weeks: America, Britain, and the Fateful Summer of 1940 (Book Review)Reviewed by Mary Kathryn BarbierBy Norman MossHoughton Mifflin, New York, 2004 The spring and summer of 1940 were a tumultuous time in Europe. The so-called Phony War ended, and German troops invaded Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands and France. Once those countries had fallen under the might of German blitzkrieg, the Battle of Britain began …
The Enola Gay and the Smithsonian Institution (Book Review)Reviewed by Conrad CraneBy Charles T. O’Reilly and William A. RooneyMcFarland, Jefferson, N.C., 2005 This book is as much a piece of history as a work of history. William Rooney and Charles O’Reilly are a former advertising executive and university professor, respectively, but they were also leaders of the World War II veterans group that …
Countdown to Victory: The Final European Campaigns of World War II (Book Review)Reviewed by Robert CitinoBy Barry TurnerWilliam Morrow, New York, 2004 It’s hard to review Barry Turner’s new book without reference to the recent work by Max Hastings, Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945. Hastings’ anecdotal history of the last year of the war is not without its problems, in particular a trite and outdated analysis …
War of 1812: Corps of Canadian VoyageursThe Corps of Canadian Voyageurs maintained Britain's frontier during the War of 1812.
Douglas A-4 Skyhawks: Provided Support For Vietnam WarMarine pilots in their diminutive Douglas A-4 Skyhawks provided vital close air support for ground forces in Vietnam.
Air Force Colonel Jacksel ‘Jack’ Broughton & Air Force General John D. ‘Jack’ Lavelle: Testing the Rules of Engagement During the Vietnam WarEveryone in Vietnam knew that the restrictions imposed by the rules of engagement were insane, but only two Air Force officers fell on their swords in protest.
Americal Division’s Bravo Battery’s Brave Defense of LZ Snoopy During the Vietnam WarCommunist sappers thought LZ Snoopy would be an easy target, but the Americal Division's Bravo Battery proved them wrong.
World War II: German Saboteurs Invade America in 1942In the summer of 1942, German submarines put saboteurs ashore on American beaches.
Korean War: Interview With U.S. Marine Lee Bergee — Chosin Reservoir Battle Survivor and AuthorIn 1950, as U.S. Marines tried to fight their way out of a Chinese trap, Korea suffered its worst winter of the century. The men who struggled there suffered accordingly.
William ‘Billy’ Mitchell: An Air Power VisionaryAs Brig. Gen. William Mitchell faced court-martial charges in 1925, the Kansas City Star described him as 'a zealot, a fanatic, a one-idea man...' but added that someday his dream might come true.
Airmail Service: It Began with Army Air Service PilotsThe Post Office called on Army Air Service pilots to carry the first airmail. Despite numerous hardships, the first flying postmen usually made their appointed rounds.
Benjamin Franklin: America’s InventorBorn 300 years ago, Benjamin Franklin remains perhaps the most inquisitive, creative and prodigious inventor, innovator and thinker ever born on American soil. But which of Franklin's many 'inventions' was actually his most important? A scientist offers a somewhat surprising answer.
Benjamin Franklin: Revolutionary SpymasterOn the eve of the colonials' leap into revolution, Benjamin Franklin was the target of a dangerous initiative by a French secret agent to determine the Americans' intentions and capabilities. Franklin's wisdom -- and wile -- proved pivotal in boosting French confidence in supporting the insurgents.
USS Laffey: Attacked Off Okinawa in World War IIUSS Laffey, the embattled destroyer, survived horrific damage from attacks by 22 Japanese aircraft off Okinawa.
Admiral Raymond A. Spruance: Modest Victor of MidwayAdmiral Raymond A. Spruance displayed outstanding leadership and command capabilities during the battle that turned the tide in the Pacific.
Captain Frederick John Walker: Royal Navy”s German U-boat MenanceCaptain Johnnie Walker was the Royal Navy's most effective weapon against the German U-boat menace.
USS Constitution: The Legendary SurvivorOften venturing into harm's way, the USS Constitution -- America's most famous sailing ship -- twice came close to oblivion -- once at the hands of a British squadron, and once at the hands of her own navy.
Korean War: The Boeing B-29 Superfortress Served Throughout the Air WarIn spite of the daunting threat of enemy jet fighters, Boeing B-29s served throughout the Korean War.
Battle of BrandywineAn end run had put General Sir William Howe in position to take Philadelphia--but first he had to fight his way through General George Washington's Continental Army.
World War I: American Expeditionary Forces Get Motorized TransportationIt took a lot of demonstrating to sell the U.S. Army on motorized transport, but the ultimate incentive came when the American Expeditionary Force entered World War I.
Bert R.J. ‘Fish Hassell and Parker D. Shorty Cramer: Pilots of a Remarkable Rockford-to-Stockholm FlightWhen R.J. 'Fish' Hassell and Parker 'Shorty' Cramer took off for Stockholm, Sweden, in their Stinson Detroiter in August 1928, they embarked on what was only the first leg of a long and remarkable journey.
Vincent ‘Squeak’ Burnett: Daredevil Acrobat Goes to WarVincent 'Squeak' Burnett traded star status as a barnstormer for the chance to serve his country.
The Abrams Tapes: Insight to the MACV Headquarters During the Vietnam WarThe once-classified tape recordings of General Creighton Abrams' staff meetings provide an unparalleled window into the inner workings of MACV headquarters.
John C. Calhoun: He Started the Civil WarIf one person could be called the instigator of the Civil War, it was John C. Calhoun -- genius pragmatist, and racist.

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China MarinesIn the twilight of peace, the China Marines found themselves on the front lines of conflict.
Benjamin Harrison (Book Review)Reviewed by Michael Oppenheim for American History MagazineBy Charles W. CalhounTimes Books, June 2005 Benjamin Harrison is the answer to a trivia question: Who is the only president (1889-93) whose predecessor and successor was the same man, Grover Cleveland? No biographer feels his subject is deservedly neglected, and historian Charles Calhoun is no exception. He …
Andrew Jackson: A Life and Times (Book Review)Reviewed by Mike OppenheimBy H.W. BrandsDoubleday, 2005 Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) was our most unlikable president: touchy, belligerent, prejudiced, poorly educated. The hatreds of his youth (Britain, banks, the Eastern establishment, Indians) stayed with him until his death. Yet he was unquestionably an energetic, charismatic leader. Unpleasant but charismatic men make for entertaining biographies, and this …
Tokyo Rose: They Called Her a TraitorAmerican GIs talked of a Japanese radio broadcaster they knew as Tokyo Rose, and the U.S. government said the sultry voice belonged to an American citizen named Iva Toguri d'Aquino. But did it?
World War II: Second Atomic Bomb That Ended the WarIt was the second atomic bomb, dropped on Nagasaki, that induced the Japanese to surrender.
Weaponry: Lewisite — America’s World War I Chemical WeaponRushed into production in 1918, America's World War I weapon of mass destruction is still in many nations' arsenals.
Battle of BenningtonThe left prong of Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne's invasion of New York found itself caught up in a most costly sideshow.
Japanese War Crime TrialsThe International Military Tribunal for the Far East meted out justice to Japanese war criminals at locations throughout Asia.
Siege of Savannah During the American Revolutionary WarIn some of the bloodiest fighting of the Revolutionary War, American and French troops failed to take Savannah.
They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967 (Book Review)Reviewed by Lewis SorleyBy David MaranissSimon & Schuster, New York David Maraniss is an associate editor of The Washington Post who has written biographies of — brace yourself for the contrast — Vince Lombardi and Bill Clinton. He is thus well prepared for the formulation he employs in They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, …
The Battle of the Bulge: Hitler’s Alternate Scenarios (Book Review)Reviewed by John D. BurtEdited by Peter TsourasGreenhill Books, London, 2004 I must start this review with a word of truth in advertising. The latest alternate history book from Greenhill, The Battle of the Bulge: Hitler’s Alternate Scenarios, is not about Adolf Hitler’s alternate scenarios for his 1944 Ardennes offensive. I would have expected chapters …
Invasion of Canada During the American Revolutionary WarOn the night of December 30, 1775, after months of hardship and perseverance against heavy odds, the forces of Brig. Gen. Richard Montgomery and Colonel Benedict Arnold were at last poised to take Quebec. Then a single British cannon shot caused their plan to unravel.
Lance Wade: World War II RAF Ace Fighter PilotOne of Britain's most decorated and highest-scoring fighter pilots was a former mule skinner from east Texas.
‘The Birth of a Nation': When Hollywood Glorified the KKKNinety years after its first screening and 100 years after the publication of the novel that inspired it, D.W. Griffith's motion picture continues to be lauded for its cinematographic excellence and vilified for its racist content. The film came from Griffith's personal vision, and as such it reflected the strengths and weaknesses of the man himself.
Weaponry: Scientists Meet at Berkeley to Lay Foundation to Build an Atomic BombA gathering of many of the world's greatest scientists in 1942, hosted by J. Robert Oppenheimer, laid the foundation for the development of the atomic bomb.
The Fox Sisters: Spiritualism’s Unlikely FoundersOut of the pranks of precocious sisters in upstate New York in 1847 grew a religious and social movement that swept across America. Often associated with abolition, suffrage and the brotherhood of all souls, spiritualism continued to evolve and flourish through the 20th century.
A Date Which Will Live: Pearl Harbor in American Memory (Book Review)Reviewed by Carol ReardonBy Emily S. RosenbergDuke University Press, Durham, N.C., 2003 Emily S. Rosenberg argues that, even in the immediate aftermath of the Japanese attack on Hawaii, the popular rallying cry to remember what happened on December 7, 1941, had different meaning for different constituencies. Indeed, she asserts that "Pearl Harbor `lives’ less as …
Leningrad Symphony: A Symphony of WarDuring the dark days of the Wehrmacht's long siege of Leningrad, the spirits of the Russian city's citizens and defenders were lifted by a musical masterpiece.
Interview with General Frederick C. Weyand About the American Troops Who Fought in the Vietnam WarOne of the saddest legacies of the Vietnam War is the cruel misperception that the American fighting men there did not measure up to their predecessors in World War II and Korea. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Battle Of Okinawa: Summary, Fact, Pictures and CasualtiesThe Battle Of Okinawa During WWII. Also Known As Operation Iceberg, This Article Gives A Summary, Facts, Pictures & Casualties From Okinawa Battle.
Saboteurs: The Nazi Raid on America (Book Review)Reviewed by Robert Citino By Michael DobbsAlfred A. Knopf, New York, 2004 In June 1942, German submarines landed two small groups of saboteurs on the U.S. coastline, one near Amagansett, Long Island, and the other near Jacksonville, Florida. Operation Pastorius had begun, its objective to destroy industrial and communications facilities throughout the United States. The …
The Path to Victory: The Mediterranean Theater in World War II (Book Review)Reviewed by Geoffrey Wawro By Douglas PorchFS&G, New York, 2004 Just after Pearl Harbor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and the Allied chiefs of staff met in Washington to craft a common strategy for what had quite suddenly — in American eyes — become "World War II." They resolved to "beat Germany first," while "containing …
Russia’s Life-Saver: Lend-Lease Aid to the U.S.S.R. in World War II (Book Review)Reviewed by Michael Parrish By Albert L. WeeksLexington Books, New York, 2004 A wartime cartoon in The New Yorker shows the docks of Murmansk covered with off-loaded containers and a Soviet official having trouble finding the word "spam" in the dictionary. Spam was one of the many food items sent to the former Soviet Union …
Britain, America, and the Vietnam War (Book Review)Reviewed by Peter Brush By Sylvia EllisPraeger, Westport, Conn., 2004 The war in Vietnam was an enduring and damaging factor in the relations between the White House and 10 Downing Street during 1964-68. Despite persistent pressure, Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration was unable to get the British government to provide even limited military support for Vietnam. …
His Excellency: George Washington (Book Review)Reviewed by Mike OppenheimBy Joseph J. EllisKnopf, 2004 Among our founding fathers, Franklin was the wisest, Hamilton the most brilliant, Jefferson the most intellectual, Adams the greatest scholar and Madison the most sophisticated politician. Yet they all acknowledged Washington as their superior (although it’s not certain they believed this at all times). Explaining his greatness …

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Top Secret WWII Bat and Bird Bomber ProgramAt the outset of World War II, innovative plans were laid to send some talented fliers to the front lines.
Operation Niagara: Siege of Khe SanhThe thing that broke the back of the NVA at Khe Sanh, said General Westmoreland, was 'basically the fire of the B-52s.'
George Washington: His Troubles with SlaveryAfter wending his way through the economic, political and moral quagmire of slavery, in his will -- his final and most symbolic message to the nation -- George Washington presented a blueprint for ending the 'Peculiar Institution.'
George Washington: His Final DaysGeorge Washington had fought and won a war, served two terms as the new nation's first president, and kept that nation on an even keel. After all that, could he be satisfied with retirement on his country estate?
Congo Crisis: Operation Dragon RougeFar from any hope of rescue, the hostages in Stanleyville were suddenly awakened by sounds of battle and chilling cries from their Simba captors: 'Your brothers have some from the sky! Now you will be killed!'
Donald Hamblen: One Tough Marine and Purple Heart RecipientHe had been wounded twice in Korea. He had lost part of his left leg in a parachute training accident. Still, Donald Hamblen earned two more Purple Hearts while serving in Vietnam.
Abraham Lincoln: Tyrant, Hypocrite or Consummate StatesmanThe key to understanding Abraham Lincoln's philosophy of statesmanship is that he always sought the meeting point between what was right in theory and what could be achieved in practice.
World War II: Winston Churchill’s Vision of VictoryThe British prime minister's deft handling of the ship of state ensured that the Allies endured the darkest moments of World War II and were ready for victory when it finally came.
Phoebe and Vernon Omlie: From Barnstormers to Aviation InnovatorsPhoebe and Vernon Omlie set out to transform their barnstorming act into a profitable business in 1920s Memphis.
Vietnam War’s Linebacker II Air OperationsThe Linebacker II air operations over North Vietnam were truly spectacular. Making it happen were the maintenance crews back on the ground.
Interview with NVA General Tran Van TraThe field commander of military operations in the South, Tran Van Tra was North Vietnam's counterpart to General William Westmoreland.
World War II: Ultra — The Misunderstood Allied Secret WeaponThe importance of decrypted German radio transmissions to Allied victory is well documented. Almost forgotten, however, is the fact that Ultra intelligence was sometimes squandered.
Hewitt T. ‘Shorty’ Wheless and Boyd T. ‘Buzz’ Wagner: World War II Fighter Pilots'Shorty' Wheless and 'Buzz' Wagner typified the kind of air warriors the American public was eager to recognize early on during World War II.
Battle of PrincetonFacing Maj. Gen. George Washington's army at Assunpink Creek on January 2, 1777, Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis expected to 'bag the fox' the following day, but the next morning brought an unpleasant surprise--the fox had vanished.
Operation Avalanche: U.S. Navy’s 4th Beach Battalion Assault on Salerno During World War IIWithout the presence of the U.S. Navy's 4th Beach Battalion on the fire-swept beaches of Salerno, Operation Avalanche might well have failed.
World War I: The Belfort RuseDuring September 1918 an American colonel attempted an elaborate hoax to deceive the Germans as to where the U.S. First Army's initial blow of the Great War would fall.
Battle for Kasserine Pass: 1st Armored Division Were Ambushed by the Afrika Corps at Sidi Bou ZidThe tankers of the 1st Armored Division learned a costly lesson at a desert crossroads in Tunisia.
General Maxwell Taylor’s Mission to VietnamPresident John F. Kennedy's tentative response to the report by General Maxwell Taylor had unintended consequences for the course of the war.
American History: Transformation of the U.S. Supreme CourtThe last four decades have witnessed a fundamental transformation in the types of men, and now women, who exercise the broad and untrammeled judicial power of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Battle of the Bulge: U.S. Army 28th Infantry Division’s 110th Regimental Combat Team Upset the German TimetableOutnumbered and outgunned, the men of the 110th Infantry Regiment upset the German timetable during the Battle of the Bulge.
Life at West Point of Future Professional American Civil War OfficersWhether they spent their energy studying or sneaking off to Benny Havens's tavern, the future professional officers of the Civil War left West Point with enough stories for a lifetime -- and an enduring common bond.
Attack on Pearl Harbor: Why Weren’t We WarnedThe contention that broken Japanese codes could have alerted the United States won't go away. But is there a simpler explanation than a failure of intelligence?
World War II: Siege of BudapestHitler's determination to prevent the Soviets from overrunning Hungary sealed the 'Pearl of the Danube's' fate.
World War II: Pathfinders Resupply 101st Airborne Division Troops in Bastogne Via Daring Parachute DropThe daring parachute drop by 20 pathfinders was critical to the defense of the town of Bastogne in December 1944.

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Jim Hill: Railroad Builder and VisionaryPossessing abundant ability and Napoleonic ambition, the Canadian-born entrepreneur Jim Hill believed that his new railway would fill the wasted northern Plains with settlers.
William H. Pitsenbarger: Bravest Among the Brave Vietnam War VeteranAirman First Class William H. Pitsenbarger's fellow veterans and home town persevered for three decades to bring about his long-overdue recognition with a posthumous Medal of Honor.
Battle of Hurtgen Forest: Fight for Schmidt and KommerscheidtU.S. infantry and supporting armor were mauled in the vortex of the Hurtgen Forest.
Robert Todd Lincoln: The Perpetual Non-CandidateLiving in the shadow of his revered father, Robert Todd Lincoln served the Republican Party and his country with distinction, but, although perennially courted by his party, steadfastly refused a presidential or vice presidential nomination.
Picture of the Day: January 11Alexander Hamilton American patriot and statesman Alexander Hamilton, the illegitimate son of a Scottish merchant, was born on St. Croix probably on January 11, 1755. After showing remarkable promise in finance, the young Hamilton was sent by a benefactor to King’s College in New York. In 1776, Hamilton joined the Continental Army, where he soon …
Picture of the Day: January 7Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points On January 8, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson addressed a hastily convened joint session of Congress, publicly stating the Fourteen Points–his idealistic plan for a world forever free from conflict. Most of Wilson’s Fourteen Points addressed specific European territorial concerns, but he also called for fair and generous treatment of Germany, absolute …
Dr. Samuel A. MuddWhen John Wilkes Booth knocked on Samuel Mudd's front door, he knew who was going answer.
World War II: Interview with Burdick BrittinAt Pearl Harbor, Burdick Brittin saw an ensign take command of his destroyer. On April 11, 1945, it was his own turn to take charge.
Picture of the Day: January 5George Washington Carver After devoting his life to helping fellow African Americans through education, George Washington Carver died on January 5, 1943, at Tuskegee, Alabama. Carver was born the son of a slave woman in the early 1860s, went to college in Iowa and then headed to Alabama in 1896. There, at the Tuskegee Institute, …
President Harry S. Truman: Survived Assassination Attempt at the Blair HouseThanks to the actions of the men assigned to protect him, President Harry S. Truman survived a harrowing attempt on his life by two Puerto Rican nationalists.
Picture of the Day: January 2John Muir Naturalist and forest conservation advocate John Muir was largely responsible for the establishment of national parks such as Sequoia and Yosemite. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Scottish immigrant Muir worked on mechanical inventions, but when an industrial accident blinded him in one eye, he abandoned that career and devoted himself to …
Andrew Jackson: The Petticoat Affair — Scandal in Jackon’s White HouseWhen President Andrew Jackson defended the honor of the wife of his secretary of war, the resulting scandal broke up his first cabinet and threatened to make his administration a laughingstock.
The Alger Hiss Spy CaseMore than a half century later people still ask the question about Alger Hiss: Was he or wasn't he a Communist spy?
Mildred Elizabeth Sisk: American-Born Axis SallyAmerican-born Axis Sally made propaganda broadcasts for Radio Berlin in Hitler's Germany, and paid the price for treason after the war.
D-Day: 6th Airborne Division’s Glider Four Encountered An Unexpected Turn of EventsThe 6th Airborne Division's objective was to seize and hold two bridges east of the Normandy beachhead. One small element of lost souls briefly took a third.
Captain Eddie Rickenbacker: America’s World War I Ace of AcesWhen America's WWI Ace of Aces Edward Rickenbacker became president of Eastern Air Lines, he said: 'I will always keep in mind that I am in the greatest business in the world ... and I can serve humanity more completely in my line of endeavor than in any other.'
Peter Francisco: Remarkable American Revolutionary War SoldierA six-and-a-half-foot-tall Hercules who wielded a six-foot-long broadsword, Peter Francisco was arguably the most remarkable soldier of the American Revolutionary War.
World War II: Operation MatterhornIn an effort to assure Chiang Kai-shek that the United States was ready to stop Japan from taking all of China, the U.S. Army Air Forces deployed the first Boeing B-29 in that theater of operations.
The Dewey-Berry FeudDaniel Berry and his family were small farmers; Chauncey Dewey was a cattleman who ran a large ranch. Their visions crossed paths in northwest Kansas, with deadly results.
Robert Fromme Recalls the Death of Staff Sgt. Charles M. Andujar During the Vietnam WarEvery name on the Wall represents a story -- sometimes survivors just take years to tell it. So it was for Staff Sgt. Charles M. Andujar's story.
President John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights QuandaryPresident Kennedy told the nation on June 11, 1963: 'We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities.'
World War II: Battle of the Bulge – 4th Armored Division Help End the Siege of BastogneA veteran of the Battle of the Bulge tells the story of the 4th Armored Division's Combat Command B and the relief of the encircled city.
Jimmy Doolittle and the Tokyo Raiders Strike Japan During World War IILed by legendary flier Jimmy Doolittle, 16 U.S. Army B-25 bombers broke through Japanese defenses on April 18, 1942, to strike Tokyo and other cities in broad daylight. The daring and dramatic raid stunned Japan, revived American morale, and signaled a new course for the Pacific War.
Climbing Mount EverestThree generations of British mountaineers committed themselves to standing where no one ever had before.
Dietrich von Choltitz: Saved of Paris From Destruction During World War IIAdolf Hitler had decreed that Paris should be left a smoking ruin, but Dietrich von Choltitz thought better of his Fuhrer's order.

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