Culture & Literature
American History

American History

October 2020

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6 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
american history online exclusives

Visit Historynet.com/AmericanHistory and search for online-only stories like these: Atomic Warfare Movie Turns Out a Bomb When Hollywood first tried to deal with nuclear war, the result was a militaristic mess. bit.ly/BlessTheBomb Canadian Soldiers Stupefy Americans Eight American invasion attempts in 1812-14 did nothing but solidify Canadian sovereignty. bit.ly/USGaffesAidedCanada Privateers Prowl U.S. Waters Unprosecuted After the War of 1812, Americans with letters of marque made millions. bit.ly/USPrivateersGetRich HISTORYNET Now Love history? Sign up for our FREE monthly e-newsletter at: historynet.com/newsletters FOLLOW US AT facebook.com/AmericanHistoryMag…

1 min.

Vestiges of the Confederacy, from statuary to the secessionist battle flag, have long been fixtures on the American landscape. Along with monuments, schools, streets, and highways, at least 10 U.S. military bases bear Confederate figures’ names. In April, amid accelerating national debate over racial injustice, the U.S. Marine Corps banned public display of the Confederate flag, a proscription the Corps extended in June to symbols incorporating that banner. Those decisions followed protests initially triggered by George Floyd’s death in police custody that soon swelled into a national furor over racial injustice. Word of a similar ban by the U.S. Navy was followed on July 17, 2020, by news reports that Secretary of Defense Mike Esper was preparing an order, to apply at all Defense Department sites, stating that “The flags…

1 min.
jfk’s other boat

Lieutenant (jg) John F. Kennedy’s wartime heroics as captain of the doomed PT-109 are the stuff. of legend, but later in World War II Kennedy helmed another Patrol Torpedo craft Crews building a seawall on North Cove along the Harlem River off upper Manha an encountered remnants of PT-59, The New York Times reported. The construction project’s aim is to protect a subway station damaged in Hurricane Sandy in 2012. A historian of the hulk, retired schoolteacher Redmond Burke, bought the wooden-hulled vessel at salvage in the ’70s, restoring the li le warship, below during the war, into a habitat he later abandoned. A student of his claimed to have connected the hull number to Kennedy’s Navy days, and Burke worked with a Kennedy biographer to pin down details regarding…

1 min.
dressing up

Amid debate over sports team names like “Redskins” and “Indians,” a scholar recalls a vogue among Americans during the Revolutionary War for Native American-style garb as battle dress, when breakaway Americans dressed like indigenes as they agitated (p. 26) and then fought for independence. At earlyamericanists.com, aka The Junto, public historian Marta Olmos posted that one proponent of such costumery was…George Washington. Observing in a letter that the fringed, tunic-style Indian hunting shirt was “a dress justly supposed to carry no small terror in the enemy,” the general told Virginia Colonel Daniel Morgan to “dress a Company or two of true Woods Men in the right Indian Style and let them make the Attack accompanied with screaming and yelling as the Indians do,” reports Olmos, who is an interpreter at…

1 min.
settlement timeline reset

For decades, archaeologists have puzzled over the timing of human migration into the New World. The scant evidence often dated from within 15,000 years of the current day. Now a find of tools in Chiquihuite Cave, a remote shelter in northern Mexico, revises that timeline. As reported in the journal Nature, the implements conclusively date back more than 30,000 years. Because in prehistory a glacier covered much of North America, researchers had assumed there was no route south from the Bering Strait until an ice-free corridor opened inland. Until now that was assumed to have been about 13,000 years ago, and recent work points to an even later opening. Some scholars began to argue that Siberians could have come by boat—crossing the Bering Strait and traveling down the Pacific coast,…

1 min.
smallpox strains traced

In July, researchers reported on smallpox strains from five Civil War-era vaccination kits at the Müer Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, a repository of artifacts and curiosities founded in 1863. At that time, vaccines were delivered by putting scabs or lymph from smallpox survivors into a small wound in the hope of causing a manageable infection that conferred immunity. Field kits for administering such treatments, likely fashioned in small batches, were roll-up leather pouches that held slides smeared with infected lymph from blisters or tin boxes containing scabs, plus a sharp for making a skin puncture. DNA from the Civil War-era smallpox strains resembled that of vaccine strains sold commercially around 1902. As the hub of 19th century American medicine, Philadelphia was home to hospitals that during…