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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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Review – Black AprilBlack April by George Veith is an illuminating examination of South Vietnam's fall in 1973-1975.
The Wall at 30: Its Timeline of Design and FunctionAs the nation celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in November 2012, Vietnam magazine examines the spirit and dedication that brought it to fruition in 1982 to honor those who served in the Vietnam War
Letters From Readers – October 2012A Shau Addendum Although 45 years have passed, I remember some facts that are not quite in agreement with Richard Camp’s fine article “Rescue in Death Valley” (April). I was a member of HMM-163 from November 1965 through June 1966. I, not Bill Gregory, was Lt. Col. Chuck House’s wingman on the March 10, 1966, …
The Leading Edge: Americans at El AlameinFive young idealists became the first Yanks to join the fight against Germany on the battlefield
Four Days in December: Germany’s Path to War With the U.S.Hitler's decision to declare war on the United States was decades in the making
Book Review: The Generals, by Thomas E. RicksThomas Ricks book The Generals looks at the effects of bureaucratization on the U.S. military from World War I through the modern-day conflicts in the Middle East.
MHQ Reviews: The Man Who Saved the UnionH. W. Brands examines U. S. Grant's life before and after the war
MHQ Reviews: David von Drehle on LincolnDavid von Drehle talks about his new book, Rise to Greatness, which chronicles Lincoln's day-to-day challenges in 1863
MHQ Reader Comments, Winter 2013Readers respond to MHQ's Autumn 2012 issue
Fighting Words: Vietnam VernacularThe origins of the terms "tunnel rats," "boat people," and more
Chuck Hagel Nomination: An Interview With Senator Hagel on His Vietnam Combat Experience and Vision for the War’s CommemorationChuck Hagel, a Vietnam veteran and former Nebraska senator, talks about his combat experience, serving alongside his brother Tom, and his recent selection to lead an advisory committee for the 50th anniversary events commemorating the Vietnam War
Book Review: Sam Sixkiller, by Howard Kazanjian and Chris EnssAuthors Howard Kazanjian and Chris Enss present an overdue biography of Cherokee lawman Sam Sixkiller.
Rest in Peace? Bringing Home U.S. War DeadMHQ adds to PBS's "Death and the Civil War" with the history of a sacred tradition born of a bitter fight
Daily Quiz for September 9, 2012She was the first wife of a U.S. President to die while her husband was in office.
League of Gentlemen: Officers of the 17th and 18th CenturiesWell-bred European military officers of the era often had more in common with enemies than they did with allies
Is Thomas Jefferson complicit in the death of Alexander Hamilton?Is Thomas Jefferson complicit in the death of Alexander Hamilton?  He was no friend of either Burr or Hamilton, and stood to profit regardless of the outcome of the duel – but seems needed the duel to take place.  Could he have urged Burr on to do the dirty work? Jeff C ? ? ? …
Southern ComfortUnion veterans could count on government aid in their twilight years. Aging Rebels needed another kind of safety net.
Could Eisenhower have saved Private Slovik?General Dwight D. Eisenhower was highly upset over the slapping incident on Sicily regarding General George S. Patton, but on January 31, 1945, Private Edward Slovik was court-martialled and executed for desertion, the only death sentence for an American Soldier during World War II. Could General Eisenhower have interceded with the Court Martial Board or …
German POWs: Coming Soon to a Town Near YouAmericans on the home front had to cope with an unprecedented enemy invasion as thousands of German POWs moved in for the duration
1812 A Nation EmergesDetail from "Battle of New Orleans," by Dennis Malone Carter, part of the new exhibit on the War of 1812 at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., has opened 1812: A Nation Emerges, a major exhibition of art depicting significant moments and leaders of the War of 1812, …
‘Something Dark and Bloody': What Happened at My Lai?U.S. Army lieutenant William Calley was court-martialed for the tragic March 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam. But was war itself to blame?
MHQ Reviews: CNN’s Cold War Series on DVDGene Santoro reviews CNN's Peabody Award–winning Cold War documentary, now available on DVD

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Table of Contents – October 2012 American HistoryThe October 2012 issue of American History features stories on Thomas Jefferson's real attitudes about slavery, the first U.S. oil boom, the modern architecture of Columbus, Ind., and Harry Truman's crusade to stop corrupt war contractors.
What if D-Day had failed?Hi- If D-day had failed and the troops were pulled off the beaches, what was plan "B"? Where there backup invasion plans of Europe? If so, what were they? Where can I learn more? Thanks.  Phil ??? Dear Mr. Stewart, Given the size, scope, location, and timing of D-Day, there was little room for alternate scenarios …
When did WWII really begin?My brother in law says World War II started in Europe around 1917. I say around 1935. Who is closer? When did the USA officially enter World War II in Europe? Vernon Garrison Ohio ? ? ? Hindsight is 20-20, which is why historical dilettantes of various stripes have numerous opinions as to when World …
The 10 Greatest Emergency LandingsUS Airways Captain Chesley Sullenberger's remarkable ditching of his Airbus A320 in the Hudson River is undoubtedly the most famous forced landing of all time. Author Stephan Wilkinson details 10 more awesome airplane emergency landings, big and small, heroic and embarrassing, skillful and just plain lucky.
World War II July/August 2012 Table of ContentsFEATURESclick to subscribe cover story Rudolf Hess’s Mystery Mission What was really behind the deputy führer’s 1941 peace mission to Britain? By Peter Padfield Avalanche in Italy In the Allied invasion of Salerno, neither side got what it wanted By Robert M. Citino First Strike This scheme to firebomb Japan before the war met with …
Mark W. Clark: A General ReappraisalDoes he really deserve to be exhibit A in the war's pantheon of bad commanders?
Rudolf Hess: Flight of FancyRudolf Hess’s peace mission to Britain was one of the war’s most astonishing events. Was the deputy führer a madman who acted alone, as many believe? Or did British Intelligence have a hand in his bizarre and fateful trip?
Review: Filming the Camps, at the Museum of Jewish HeritageFILMING THE CAMPS John Ford, Samuel Fuller, George Stevens From Hollywood to Nuremberg The Museum of Jewish Heritage, New York City. Through October 14, 2012. The 1945 Nuremberg Trials marked many firsts, including the first time movies were used as evidence. This thoughtful, powerful exhibit uncovers who made them and how, using footage, photos, scripts, …
Conversation with Jean Edward Smith, Author of Eisenhower in War and PeaceHow the five-star general dealt with Churchill and Roosevelt, and managed all the alpha generals jockeying for position, all while running a war.
Book Review: A Free and Hardy Life, by Clay S. JenkinsonClay Jenkinson's A Free and Hardy Life looks at Teddy Roosevelt's transformational time in the Dakotas, where he regained the health and spirit that propelled him into the presidency.
Interview With Filmmaker Ken BurnsFilmmaker Ken Burns talks about his latest project, a history of Prohibition, which airs on PBS in October 2011.
Table of Contents – August 2012 American HistoryThe August 2012 issue of American History features the story of Brigham Young and his "19th wife," Ann Eliza, who divorced the Mormon Prophet and toured the country speaking out against polygamy. Celebrate the bicentennial of Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences, and travel with John Muir through Alaska's Glacier Bay.
Letters From Readers – August 2012 American HistoryOmnipresent Jefferson The June 2012 “By the Numbers” section stated that Thomas Jefferson favored a single, seven-year term for the president. However, the article “Power Play” (April 2012), about the Constitutional Convention, made no mention of this. Because Jefferson was in France during the convention, it would have been impossible for him to participate in …
Daily Quiz for May 23, 2012The carillon tower at Princeton University is named after this U.S. president.
Tapes Give New Voice to JFK’s Vietnam DoubtThe last 45 hours of more than 248 hours of declassified conversations of President John F. Kennedy, taped in the White House shortly before his death, reveal a president worried about where the war in Vietnam was headed. On the recordings, made in September 1963 and released by the JFK Library early this year, Kennedy …
Across the Hypersonic DivideThe X-15 tested the limits of speed and altitude for winged aircraft, bridging the gap between the air and space ages.
July 2012 – Letters From ReadersReaders' letters in the July 2012 issue of Military History sound off about the Pearl Harbor legacy of the fated Argentinian light cruiser General Belgrano, the Boxer Rebellion, Roman emperors, Francis Scott Key, the Northrop P-61, George Washington's home brew and our talented cartographer Steve Walkowiak.
War of 1812: ‘Swarms of Privateers’During the War of 1812 flotillas of well-armed U.S. privateers stalked the world’s oceans for fat British prizes
LCVP: Higgins’ Boxy Barge Had a Prohibition PastThe Americans relied on the lightweight, shallow-draft LCVP (aka Higgins boat) to quickly put landing forces ashore in World War II.
Rommel’s Afrika KorpsJust how good were Rommel and his legendary Afrika Korps?
A History of U.S. Military ManhuntsThe Osama bin Laden manhunt was just one of nearly a dozen in U.S. military history
What If Winston Churchill Had Offered Less “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat”?The impact Churchill’s image had on the postwar world would have been altered.
Warsaw Rising: Hope and BetrayalAs Poland's underground army struggled to pry the Germans from their capital, Stalin sat back and let the Rising fail.
Education Center at The Wall – The Faces Behind the NamesThe faces of the names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be projected onto a giant wall at the new Education Center.
Daily Quiz for April 5, 2012Pulitzer Prize-winning World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle died six days after the death of this World War II figure.

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2012 Spur Award: The Alamo, Well RememberedThe 1836 Battle of the Alamo, immortalized by Texans, also remains in the national memory, thanks to Travis’ line in the sand, Crockett’s death and lesser ‘battles’ that ensued there
George Washington’s Magnificent ObsessionGeorge Washington worried over every detail of his greatest gift to the nation - Mount Vernon.
The Last Days of David CrockettWhat really happened to Davy Crockett after the Alamo fell?
What Do We Owe Our Vets?American soldiers returning from war don't always get the treatment they deserve.
Reviews – The Vietnam War from the Rear Echelon: An Intelligence Officer’s Memoir, 1972-1973The Vietnam War from the Rear Echelon, by Timothy J. Lomperis, who served two tours of duty, is both memoir and history, offering a "mid-level" perspective of the rear-echelon war in Saigon
Reviews – Westmoreland: The General Who Lost VietnamWestmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam by Lewis Sorley, is extensively researched and argued with precision, but it is not a balanced biography of Westmoreland so much as it is an indictment, and a damning one at that
Letters From Readers – May 2012 Aviation HistoryIn the May 2012 Aviation History Mailbag readers discuss one of Jimmy Doolittle salvaged B-25s, Cook Cleland's F2G Corsair racer, Winston Churchill and Project Tip-Tow.
Emory Upton and the Shaping of the U.S. ArmyHow one soldier’s combat experiences and study of the world's great military powers led to a tactical revolution
May 2012 – Letters From ReadersReaders' letters in the May 2012 issue of Military History sound off about the causes of war, author Andrew Roberts, race relations in the military, Pearl Harbor and great escapes in military history.
From the Dossier: Andrew JacksonFootnotes to the story of seventh U.S. president Andrew Jackson
MHQ Table of Contents, Spring 2012  MHQ Home Page Subscribe to MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History today!     The Spring 2012 issue of MHQ is on newsstands now. You can also visit the HistoryNet store to order your copy today! FEATURES Payback by Alistair Horne Doolittle’s Raiders avenged Pearl Harbor by hitting the Japanese where they least …
Letter from Wild West – April 2012Red Cloud often gets third billing—behind Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse—in the annals of Sioux history, but that is selling short his historic contributions, says R. Eli Paul, editor of the great chief's autobiography
Daily Quiz for February 3, 2012"Win one for the Gipper," refers to an All-American football player who died at age 25 and played for this team.
The U.S. Navy’s Sea ChangeThe U.S. Navy reinvented itself—and the American sailor—during a century of radical change in technology and warfare
Patton: The German ViewPopular knowledge is that the Germans so feared and admired the American general, they watched his every move. The truth is very different.
Rob Citino’s Reading ListThe top book titles from World War II magazine's resident blogger
Letters From Readers – April 2012 American HistoryFounding Fakes? Woody Holton’s piece on George Washington’s moral journey (February 2012) is too short to prove his thesis. It provided insight into “Father” George’s early machinations, but little is presented to show that he became a moral person. What I remember most about Washington are the shocking revelations in Marvin Kitman’s 1970 book, George …
Rage Over the RapidoAn ill-conceived diversionary attack across an Italian river destroyed an American division in early 1944. Who was to blame?
Letter from Military History – March 2012In coming issues Military History will profile history's great military leaders, exploring those qualities that made them transcendent leaders.
Interview – John Rowan, Nat’l President, VVAAs Vietnam vets get older, Rowan wants to ensure they know how VVA can help them obtain the benefits they deserve
Buck Taylor – Art of the WestBuck Taylor, former cast member of the TV series Gunsmoke, now creates historically themed paintings and posters for various rodeos.
‘Two-Gun’ Hart: The Prohibition CowboyWith a Western gunfighter’s looks and the nickname and nerve to match, Richard "Two-Gun" Hart enforced Prohibition even as his notorious lawbreaking brother made national headlines
Secret Doomsday BunkerDuring the Cold War, the U.S. Congress had its own secret fallout shelter tucked away in the West Virginia hills.
Letter From American History – February 2012The father of our country grows up in Woody Holton's article "George Washington's Moral Metamorphosis."
Ernie Harmon: The Other PattonThis great leader's uncommon boldness and unflinching judgment propelled his armored divisions to victory in Tunisa, Anzio, and the Ardennes

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Miracle Men of MidwayThe American victory at Midway had more to do with bold leaders than lucky breaks
A Deserter Begs Eisenhower to Spare His LifeBy Eddie Slovik, the first and only American soldier to be officially executed for desertion since the Civil War
World War II January/February 2012 Table of ContentsFEATURESclick to subscribe cover story The Midway Edge The American victory had more to do with gutsy leaders than lucky breaks By Craig L. Symonds The Other Patton Ernie Harmon commanded two armored divisions during the war, leading them to victory in Tunisia, Anzio, and the Ardennes By Carlo D’Este portfolio His Great Escape An …
Holiday Shopping Guide 2011: Recommended Books and MoreOver 40 recommended gift selections for the history buffs on your list.
Book Review – Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency From Ford to Obama, by Marvin and Deborah KalbSome historical perspective on the different ways that "Vietnam" has influenced the Oval Office
Book Review: Normandy Crucible, by John PradosJohn Prados takes a fresh look at the 1944 Normandy campaign, considering the impact of Ultra intercepts and the way the German Wehrmacht performed.
Military History – January 2012 – Table of ContentsThe January 2012 issue of Military History features stories about race relations in the U.S. military, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, Douglas MacArthur's postwar role in Japan, photographer Susan Meiselas' photos of wartime Nicaragua and Cherokee Chief Dragging Canoe's war against U.S. frontier settlements.
American Proconsul: How Douglas MacArthur Shaped Postwar JapanIn August 1945 MacArthur arrived in postwar Japan, tasked with the job of rebuilding that defeated nation
The Spy Who Doomed Pearl HarborThe Japanese diplomat Takeo Yoshikawa set the stage for his country's surprise attack.
Military History – January 2012 – Letters From ReadersReaders' letters in the January 2012 issue of Military History sound off about history's great military escapes, Pancho Villa's war movie, General Douglas MacArthur, the Irish Brigade, counterinsurgencies and Richard the Lionheart.
Daily Quiz for November 1, 2011This president ordered the U.S. flag to fly over the White House and other government buildings and urged the all American schools to do the same, a custom still followed.
Opens Oct. 14: “The 1968 Exhibit” in St. Paul Begins with a Huey That Has Landed in a Living RoomA new traveling exhibit that looks back at the tumultuous year of 1968 debuts Oct. 14, 2011 at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, Minn. "The 1968 Exhibit" traces the escalating war in Vietnam and its growing opposition, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the women’s liberation and black power …
Book Review: Historic Photos of Heroes of the Old West, by Mike Cox, and Historic Photos of Outlaws of the Old West, by Larry JohnsonMike Cox honors the heroes of the Old West and Larry Johnson the outlaws of the Old West in these two entries from Turner Publishing's Historic Photos series.
What If the Allies Had Invaded France in 1943?The victory might not have been as sweet as the actual 1944 invasion.
‘The War of 1812′ on PBS – A War to RememberThe new PBS documentary 'The War of 1812' goes beyond the myths and the few well-known events of 'the war we don't know much about' to present a balanced, informative and engrossing program.
Johnny Alison: American EagleHow the late, great Johnny Alison became a U.S. Air Force icon.
Letters From Readers – December 2011 American HistoryMessin’ With Texas I always enjoy reading articles about my native state of Texas, but I was deeply disappointed by Gregory Curtis’ contention in “Lone Star Nation” (October 2011) that “the geography of the state is relatively uniform.” Mr. Curtis obviously did not take (or did not pay attention in) the required seventh-grade Texas geography …
Military History – November 2011 – Table of ContentsThe November 2011 issue of Military History features stories about 10 Great POW Escapes, the 1801-05 First Barbary War against Mediterranean piracy, lost images of Kaiser Wilhelm's military forces, Polish-American Patriot Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Pancho Villa's brush with motion picture fame, and Carthaginian General Hannibal Barca's lost opportunity at the gates of Rome.
Interview with ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan Biographer Douglas WallerDoug Waller reveals OSS founder "Wild Bill" Donovan, chosen across party lines by Franklin Roosevelt, and a man revered by his agents and reviled by the Pentagon.
Military History – November 2011 – Letters From ReadersReaders' letters in the November 2011 issue of Military History sound off about George Marshall, the 35th Infantry Division in World War II, the Welsh/English longbow and helicopter assaults in military history.
Tracing the ties that bindWe know what the famous guys were up to, but what were our own relatives doing during the war? Most of New Orleans thought Ben Butler was bad news, according to Dr. Charles Bias, who was teaching the Civil War history course I was taking in graduate school. My pal Kelly, sitting next to me, …
Operation Bent Penny at 1971 May Day ProtestHow a Vietnam vet ended up working undercover for Nixon's secret plan to disrupt an antiwar rally in Washington
Daily Quiz for August 15, 2011The first person enrolled in the President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps in this month and year.
The War’s Lost Souls—and the Birth of a NationIn 1945, tens of millions of displaced persons, DPs, filled Germany and Western Europe. Many came from France, the Low Countries, and Italy, but most were Eastern Europeans. In The Long Road Home, historian Ben Shephard, who produced the documentary The World At War, painstakingly reconstructs this epic humanitarian crisis and how the United Nations …
The Hump by John D. PlatingA comprehensive new exploration of the route that supplied the far corner of the World War II.

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Churchill Imagines How the South Won the Civil WarIn Winston Churchill’s fanciful alternative history, Robert E. Lee wins at Gettysburg, and Jeb Stuart prevents World War I
Fighting Words: From the Ocean BlueNautical terms that have crept into common parlance.
Table of Contents – October 2011 American HistoryThe October 2011 issue of American History features Thomas Jefferson's Bible, Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, Will Rogers' Tweets and a short history of U.S. debt.
Letter From American History – October 2011Peter Carlson, The Bible According to Thomas Jefferson, from Editorial
Table of Contents – February 2011 American HistoryClick to subscribe to American History magazine. FEATURES The Confederacy: America’s Worst Idea On the 150th anniversary of secession, can we finally admit the truth about why the South lost the Civil War? by Stephanie McCurry Patrick Henry vs. Big Government The fiery patriot orator also led the battle against the U.S. Constitution by Harlow …
Narrative: the CrusadeLast week I urged you all to challenge the “accepted narrative” of World War II, to come up with things you used to believe about the war that no longer hold water. I received some great answers! Some of you used to think the western Allies won the war all by themselves and tended to …
Military History – September 2011 – Table of ContentsThe September 2011 issue of Military History features stories about U.S. Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, the 1854 Battle of the Alma in the Crimean, the 1779-80 Sullivan Expedition against the Iroquois, the roots of counterinsurgency doctrine, Victorian-era combat painter Lady Butler and the mercenary warriors of the Wild Irish Geese.
Massacre & Retribution: The 1779-80 Sullivan ExpeditionThe brutal 1778 Cherry Valley Massacre prompted a wide-ranging punitive expedition that broke Iroquois power
Military History – September 2011 – Letters From ReadersReaders' letters in the September 2011 issue of Military History sound off about combat photojournalist Dickey Chapelle, last U.S. veteran of World War I Frank Buckles, ancient Roman military medicine, a crooked division patch and a lost brother at Normandy.
How to Steal a Navy and Save 30,000 RefugeesDuring the evacuation of Saigon, the USS Kirk received a surprising radio message to turn around and head back to Vietnam
Irreconcilable DifferencesWinston Groom, author of Vicksburg 1863, explores the reasons the North and South found themselves at war.
Interview with Steve Maxner: Perserving veterans’ past for the futureSteve Maxner, director of the Vietnam Center and Archive at Texas Tech, has seen the Oral History Project grow to over 1,000 interviews
World War Two in GettysburgScrap drives, war rallies and German POWs took over America’s preeminent battlefield
How did Woodrow Wilson become America’s most hated president?Modern-day conservatives claim Woodrow Wilson wrecked the American century.
Jim Gavin: The General Who Jumped FirstThis leader never asked his men to do something he wouldn't—and didn't—do himself.
Brothers, Rivals, Victors Traces the Tangled Lives of Europe’s LiberatorsBrothers, Rivals, Victors By Jonathan W. Jordan. 672 pp. NAL Hardcover, 2011. $28.95. Two factors mattered most in determining victory in Europe in World War II: the will to win, and the amount of materiel available to the warring powers. Stalin and Rommel, an unlikely couple, agreed and stated unequivocally that thanks to America’s enormous …
Shreveport Under Siege: The Louisiana Maneuvers, Phase 2The Louisiana Maneuvers in 1941 made a rising star of George S. Patton as the U.S. Army got ready to rumble.
Book Review – The Mayaguez Incident: Testing America’s Resolve in the Post Vietnam Era, by Robert J. MahoneyThe Mayaguez Incident by Robert Mahoney explains how Washington dealt with the capture of Mayaguez by the Khmer Rouge at the end of the Vietnam War, and the dramatic rescue mission carried out by the U.S. Navy, Marines and Air Force
Book Review – The Columbia History of the Vietnam War, edited by David L. AndersonThe Columbia History of the Vietnam War is a collection of 14 essays by respected scholars that examines historical themes with contemporary relevance
Book Review: Nothing Less Than War, by Justus DoeneckeIn Nothing Less Than War, Justus Doenecke offers a look at the domestic political wrangling that preceded America's decision to enter World War I.
Book Review: The Whites of Their Eyes, by Paul LockhartIn The Whites of Their Eyes, Paul Lockhart debunks the myths and offers new insight into the June 17, 1775, Battle of Bunker Hill.
Letter from Military History – July 2011Military leaders are called on to make tough calls - and then stand by those decisions.
Edward S. Curtis and the Soul of the WarriorA crusading photographer captured the solemn pride of chiefs and braves after the Indian Wars.
Book Review: How Tanks Brought Patton and Ike TogetherAn excerpt from Jonathan W. Jordan's new book looks at Ike, Patton, and U.S. tank warfare.
Rise and Fall of the Dragon LadyMadame Ngo Dinh Nhu's venom and vengeance set the stage for disaster and quagmire.

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