My last three blog entries were based on two stories from one issue of American Heritage, August 1957. But in that same issue there are nine other stories that are just as interesting:
*one about Cotton Mather fighting the doctors of Boston to allow innoculation against smallpox in that city in 1721, when the idea was in its infancy,
*an article about Philip Hone, an assiduous diarist who chronicled the rapid growth of New York from 1820 to 1850 entertaining notables like Davy Crockett and Daniel Webster, with beautiful engravings of early New York,
*an article about how Louisa May Alcott’s mother was able to keep her family sheltered, clothed and fed while her husband, philosopher Bronson Alcott, was devoting himself to his calling as a full-time dingaling,
*a great article about specialist engineering battalions with no combat experience blowing up German tanks and holding vital crossroads like Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge,
*a great Winslow Homer gallery,
*a nifty story about the McGuffey primers (“A is for Axe”) that schooled several generations of Americans, and finally,
*a story about the visit of Prince Napoleon, cousin of the Emperor Napoleon III (there were a lot of guys named that in France at that time) who comes to America in 1861 just after the first Battle of Bull Run and talks to Lincoln and his cabinet members and General McClellan, and then crosses over the lines and talks to all the Confederate generals and policians. They talked to both the winning and the losing generals from Bull Run just weeks after the battle.
Okay, I’m still talking about the same edition of American Heritage, August 1957, and there’s still more — an account of the terrible Triangle Fire in New York, and a sweet short story about a Vermont soldier coming back from the Civil War… how did I get going on this? I want to go to bed.
Oh, one last thing. There’s a pencil sketch of Robert E. Lee riding away from his meeting with Grant at Appomattox, drawn by someone who was there. I’ve always heard that his horse Traveler was one heck of a fine looking horse, and now it’s almost as if I can see for myself.