February 13th 1885: Bess Truman born

On this day in 1885, the future First Lady of the United States, Bess Truman, was born in Independence, Missouri; her birth name was Elizabeth Virginia Wallace. Wallace met future president Harry Truman at Sunday school in Independence, when they were young children. Harry was immediately taken by the “beautiful curly haired girl” he met there, and spent his young life trying to win her affections, despite his crippling shyness. They began seeing eachother in 1910, and while she rejected his first proposal, the couple became engaged in November 1913. However, they did not marry until 1919, as Harry wanted to save money and then left for France to fight in the First World War. They married upon Harry’s return from the front in June 1919, and went on to have one daughter - Margaret Truman. Harry Truman entered politics in 1926, and was elected US Senator for Missouri in 1935. Truman was added to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ticket for the 1944 election, and duly became Vice President. However, Roosevelt died soon into his fourth term, and Truman ascended to the presidency in 1945, facing seemingly insurmountable challenges in navigating the end of the Second World War. Bess Truman reportedly disliked life in the White House and the incessant scutiny that came with being First Lady. Upon the end of his presidency, the couple returned to a quiet life in Independence. Harry Truman died in 1972 aged 88, and Bess died in 1982 aged 97, making her the longest-lived First Lady in American history. The love story of Harry and Bess Truman, spanning eighty years, is one of the most memorable details of presidential private lives.

“You still are on the pedestal where I placed you that day in Sunday school 1890. What an old fool I am.”
- Harry in a letter to Bess on June 28th 1948, their 29th anniversary


This man’s photograph was pivotal in exposing the true horrors of slavery in America. His name was Peter, and possibly had the surname Gordon. I see this picture often, and recently found out Peter’s story. He escaped from the plantation of John and Bridget Lyons located in Louisiana. In order to get bloodhounds off his scent, he covered himself in onions. He went forty miles before reaching the Union camp in Baton Rogue. When he was fitted for his uniform, Itinerant photographers William D. McPherson and his partner Mr. Oliver took Carte de Visites (basically small postcard-like photos)

In his own words, Peter explains the keloids on his body:

   “Ten days from to-day I left the plantation. Overseer Artayou Carrier whipped   me. I was two months in bed sore from the whipping. My master come after I was whipped; he discharged the overseer.My master was not present. I don’t remember the whipping. I was two months in bed sore from the whipping and my sense began to come – I was sort of crazy. I tried to shoot everybody. They said so, I did not know. I did not know that I had attempted to shoot everyone; they told me so. I burned up all my clothes; but I don’t remember that. I never was this way (mentally ill) before. I don’t know what make me come that way (mentally ill ). My master come after I was whipped; saw me in bed; he discharged the overseer. They told me I attempted to shoot my wife the first one; I did not shoot any one; I did not harm any one. My master’s Capt. JOHN LYON, cotton planter, on Atchafalya, near Washington, Louisiana. Whipped two months before Christmas.”

During the war, Confederate soldiers took Peter Gordon as a prisoner of war. He was beaten badly and left for dead. As Peter’s iconic photograph shows, he always had a quiet strength and dignity in the face of adversity. Peter would go on to be one of the first  Sergeants in the Corps d'Afrique during the Siege of Port Hudson in May 1863.

The National Road & The True Gateway to the West

The National Road & The True Gateway to the West

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George Washington on his mission to deliver a message to the French from Governor Dinwiddie in 1754.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Steubenville, OH and how it was, according to present day Steubenville residents, the real gateway to the west, long before St. Louis adopted the title. I heard from several readers that Steubenville couldn’t lay claim to the title, either, and the “real”gateway to…

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A group of women and children posing in front of the Confederate torpedo boat CSS David in Charleston, South Carolina, 1864. By George S. Cook.

Sanders is first Jewish American to win a presidential primary
Sanders made history with his New Hampshire primary win on Tuesday night, also becoming the first non-Christian to win a state in a presidential primary
By Ben Jacobs

Regardless of your personal politics, this is an amazing first in American Jewish History.  Kol hakavod Senator Sanders!

very important

casual reminder that this is what some founding fathers (+ other important peeps) handwriting looked like

george washington:

alexander hamilton:

thomas jefferson that fucking dickbag:

lafayette precious child w/ fine ass handwriting:

james madison aka what the hell is even:

(lawn merriot? jaws merlin? THAT DOES NOT LOOK LIKE HIS NAME)

john laurens aka his handwriting weirdly looks like his personality:



fucking aaron burr man god d ammit


December 15th 1890: Sitting Bull killed

On this day in 1890, the Native American Lakota Sioux chief, Sitting Bul, was killed. Formal peaceful relations between the Sioux and the United States government had begun in 1868 upon the signing of the Fort Laramie Treaty. However, the discovery of gold in the Black Hills in the 1870s, led to a torrent of white prospectors invading the Sioux lands. The Sioux tribes united under Sitting Bull’s leadership, and his people initially secured some major military victories over American forces, most famously at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, where Sioux and Cheyenne warriors defeated the famed General Custer. Sitting Bull then led his people to Canada, only to return in 1881. It was around this time that he joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, but he soon returned to his people to protect the rights of indigenous Americans. Sitting Bull was killed on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in 1890 by police, who were trying to arrest him under fears he would join the Ghost Dance movement.

“I would rather die an Indian than live a white man”

'Hamilton' is saving NYC's education system
‘Hamilton” is on a roll. Amazingly, the cast recording from a Broadway musical about the nation’s first treasury secretary is near the top of the rap/hip-hop charts. Billboard gave its soundtrack i...

Shout out to Lin-Manuel Miranda for making the show more accessible to underprivileged High School students. This is how you foster interest in education and history. My favorite bit from the article:

One African-American girl told me, “ ‘Hamilton’ made me realize that this is our country, too.”