Culture & Literature
American History

American History June 2019

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6 Issues

in this issue

6 min.

Little Ice Age Linked to Die-Off in the Americas The "Great Dying"—the deaths 1500-1600 of more than 55 million New World natives—led to the Little Ice Age, an anomalous drop in global temperature 1570 to 1694 known as the Little Ice Age. That is the conclusion of scientists from the University College London and the University of Leeds. During roughly the same era, the researchers write in the March 2019 Quaternary Science Reviews, less carbon dioxide concentrated in the air. This coincided with the only period in the past 2,000 years that saw the global temperature drop. Reviewing population estimates, land use studies, and atmospheric carbon dioxide recorded in Antarctic ice cores, the team mapped an extensive depopulation in the New World caused by diseases from Europe such as smallpox, measles,…

1 min.
new old name

Pueblo Prevails Artworks of the Acoma of Sky City—a 1,000-year-old village atop a bluff west of Albuquerque, New Mexico—have been returned to the tribe, the Associated Press reports. For years, tribal officials have been seeking return of items held at auction houses, museums, and art galleries worldwide. A sacred shield in Paris has been a particular focus. While that item has not yet been returned, the Acoma are celebrating the return of several items from a gallery in Montana. A September Government Accountability Office report described the challenge: no federal law regulates export of tribal cultural items, complicating the task of proving they were obtained illegally. To gauge the problem, the agency surveyed auctions 2012-17. Items from the American Southwest overwhelmingly dominated sales of Native American objects in overseas auctions. TOP BID Deadline…

1 min.

Jessica Wambach Brown (“Man vs. Mountain,” p. 40) writes on a wide range of topics from Kalispell, Montana. The U.S. Army Historical Foundation has chosen Brown’s most recent article, “Great War in the Big Woods” (December 2018), as a finalist in the foundation’s 2018 Distinguished Article competition. Retired prosecutor Joseph Connor (“Born in the USA,” p. 30) writes about historical topics with resonant current-day connections. His most recent article was “High Crimes” (February 2019). Sarah Richardson (“Passing Fancy,” p. 50) is senior editor of American History. Archaeologist Stuart D. Scott PhD (“Hard Labor,” p. 58) is retired from a professorship at the State University of New York at Buffalo. A former Fulbright scholar, he has written extensively on fieldwork in Latin America and the South Pacific, including the 1837 Rebellion narrative, To the…

2 min.

On the Money Thanks for a very fine publication; I enjoyed your article about Elizabeth Powel. William Bingham, to whom Mrs. Powel sold her house (“Washington Danced Here,” April 2019), was not only a neighbor but a relative through his marriage to Anne Willing, daughter of Eliza’s brother Thomas and well known in numismatic circles. Family lore has it that Anne’s was the face of Liberty gracing American silver and copper coins 1795-1808. As the story goes, Anne posed for Gilbert Stuart, from which portrait engraver Robert Scot fashioned the “Draped Bust” of Liberty, above. No contemporaneous accounts confirm the legend, but it’s nice to imagine that this was the face of Eliza’s niece. David W. Lange, research director Numismatic Guaranty Corporation Sarasota, Florida Maine Squeeze If, as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1963…

5 min.
really truly going viral

Influenza is usually a mild seasonal disease, but in 1918-19 a strain of influenza that may have originated in the United States killed tens of millions. In Influenza: The Hundred Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History (Touchstone, 2018), Jeremy Brown, MD, an emergency physician and director of the Office of Emergency Care Research at the National Institutes of Health, explains that pandemic and discusses what might prevent a reprise. Why was 1918-19 so bad? The virus was so different from previous influenza viruses, victims’ immune systems couldn’t recognize it and fight it. Additionally, we believe that some patients’ immune systems overreacted to the virus and attacked the body’s own healthy lung cells. This caused severe lung damage and made victims vulnerable to a secondary bacterial pneumonia which was…

6 min.
true believer

By age 36, Cyrus Ingerson Scofield had failed magnificently. Accused of forgery and embezzlement, he had slipped into an alcohol-soaked despair. In 1879, he quit drinking, embraced Jesus Christ, and devoted himself to evangelism—spreading the word about the importance of personal salvation and biblical authority. Three decades later, he created the Scofield Reference Bible, sometimes cited as a plinth of Protestant fundamentalism. Conforming to a theological view known as pre-millennial dispensationalism, Scofield’s Bible presents history as epochs governed by divine covenants. In the last epochs, for example, to fulfill God’s plan, Jews must return to the Holy Land. Some scholars cite the Scofield Bible as a factor that helped forged longstanding support among American evangelicals for the nation of Israel. Scofield’s life began in trauma: his mother died delivering him in…