The June 2017 issue of the Smithsonian VIP Newsletter has given me something new to think about for this 4th of July. In the “Ask Smithsonian” section was the following question — Who was the intended audience for the Declaration of Independence? The answer will probably surprise you. The standard narrative of the Declaration of
Category Archives: Historical
With the 4th of July on the horizon, I recently ran across an interesting Revolutionary War story. Everyone remembers Paul Revere and his “midnight ride” in April, 1775, but Revere was only one of a number of riders, and he was captured. Such are the vagaries of history. I know history is much more complicated.
When we think of civil rights, we tend to focus on our own (considerable) struggles. But other countries have had periods of turmoil, too. Consider Canada. Viola Desmond was a businesswoman who owned a beauty salon and school. She was traveling across Canada, looking to expand her business, when her car broke down in New
The Writer’s Almanac reminded me that what is remembered as the Tiananmen Square Massacre happened on June 4, 1989. On that day, Chinese troops stormed the square to end demonstrations that had actually begun months earlier. Thousands of supporters from three dozen universities staged hunger strikes and sit-ins in the name of democracy. The Chinese
With the current concern about the security risks of immigrants and refugees, this is a good time to remind everyone that episodes of xenophobia (fear of foreigners) have happened periodically throughout our history. One example — when I was visiting Boston in April, I learned about NINA. It’s an acronym that means “No Irish Need
May 26th, 1895 was the birthday of documentary photographer Dorothea Lange. She was born Dorothea Nutzhorn in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1895, and is best known for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration. Her most famous photo was “Migrant Mother” (left) in 1936, but took many more that were just as hauntingly beautiful.
Civil wars a horrible, brutal ordeals that can scar for decades, if not centuries. The Spanish Civil War was especially traumatic, and I’m beginning to doubt that Syria will ever be a viable political entity again. Which is another example of how unique our nation is. We endured our own civil war, and yes, it
While driving back from Boston three weeks ago, I happened to listen to a very interesting story about a real pioneer. His name was Paul Revere Williams. Paul R. Williams (as he was known) was born in Los Angeles on February 18, 1894. When he was two years old, his father died; when he was
Actually, no one is quite sure when Shakespeare’s birthday was. His life is largely undocumented; he left no personal papers. But we do know he was baptized on April 26, 1564, so his birthday is traditionally celebrated on April 23rd. No one single person has had a greater impact on the English language, so much
Today I was reminded that on April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses Grant, effectively ending the Civil War. I have always read about this event, and several years ago was finally able to visit the site and see for myself. It’s a fascinating part of American history. The