Culture & Literature
American Icons

American Icons

American Icons

From politics and music to sport and film, the history of the United States has been shaped by a variety of incredible men and women, all of whom have left an indelible mark on the fabric of the nation. In American Icons we explore the fascinating stories of the greatest Americans who have ever lived.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd
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$11.57(Incl. tax)

in this issue

13 min.
george washington

Long Island was supposed to be a success. The enemy was stronger and greater in number but the rebels had got there first. The commander had prepared everything for his foe’s arrival in New York, strengthening his batteries and placing his generals perfectly. But the British had broken through. First Sullivan fell, then Stirling, and the commander could only watch as the lives of his brave men were brutally wiped away. Knowing all was lost he ordered his men to retreat before the carnage could reach them. As relentless rain pelted down he used the cover of darkness to help conceal his soldiers as they climbed into every available boat he could get his hands on. He waited until the last man was on board before he boarded himself. As…

3 min.
the march to revolution

1754 FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR The French and Indian War was part of a much longer conflict between Great Britain and France, known as the Seven Years War. The war was fought in the north of North America between the colonies of the two powers, ending with France losing its territory in North America. However, funding the war created a huge national debt in Britain and gave France a good reason to support American independence. 1754-1763 STAMP ACT The resulting national debt of the Seven Years War in Britain had reached £130 million by 1764. Britain also needed a way to pay for its army in North America and decided the colonies should subsidise it. The Stamp Act forced citizens to pay taxes on documents and paper goods and was immediately unpopular as it was…

2 min.
washington myths cut down

Stephen Brumwell is a freelance writer and independent historian living in Amsterdam. His book, George Washington: Gentleman Warrior, won the 2013 George Washington Book Prize. He had wooden teeth George Washington was plagued with dental problems from his twenties, and by 1789, had just one of his own teeth remaining. He owned several sets of false teeth, but none was crafted from wood. Instead, Washington’s dentures incorporated a variety of materials – bone, ‘sea-horse’, or hippopotamus ivory, and human teeth – fixed by lead, gold and metal wire. The belief that Washington’s false teeth were wooden probably originated in the brown-stained appearance of surviving examples – apparently owing to his fondness for port wine. He cut down a cherry tree and confessed to his father Perhaps the best known of all the legends spun…

1 min.
valley forge

The cold today was worse than it has ever been. The crowded wooden huts provide shelter from the biting wind, but the cold passes between the slats, through my threadbare shirt and nestles in my bones. My quest to procure a set of shoes continues to be unsuccessful. I thought that after marching through the snow in bare feet someone would take pity on me – but there are no supplies coming. The food too is running low. For the past week I have only eaten firecake – a sticky, bland abomination of water and flour that fills my stomach but leaves the soul ravenous. I shouldn’t complain – I am one of the lucky few untouched by the diseases that ravage the camp. So many men have been plagued by…

7 min.
thomas jefferson

Thomas Jefferson’s earliest memory was when, at the age of two, he was carried in the arms of a black slave to his family’s new home – a tobacco plantation. During his childhood, it was expected that the young boy would grow up to become a typical Virginian slave owner, just like his father, but Thomas was keen to pursue a life beyond the plantation. He loved reading and had a keen interest in science, linguistics and natural history, and it was in law that he would first make his mark, being admitted to the Virginia bar in 1767. It was a time of flux in North America. When the American Revolution began in 1775, Jefferson was appointed a Virginian representative in the Continental Congress at Philadelphia. He had been hand…

11 min.
abraham lincoln

He stood six feet four inches (1.92m) tall and spoke in a high-pitched Midwestern drawl. His visage was unspectacular, and some observers considered him downright homely. His trademarks were a tall stovepipe hat and a trimmed beard that curled around his jaws and chin without the traditional complementary moustache. Although he might have appeared unremarkable, Abraham Lincoln was a gifted orator, a teller of humorous tales, a talented attorney and a shrewd politician. Elected as the 16th president of the United States in November 1860, he led the nation through four years of Civil War that threatened the very fabric of the noble experiment in democracy that was less than a century old. Lincoln was a leader of considerable dexterity, surrounding himself with a cabinet of political rivals, parrying partisan thrusts…