"Imagine you are a slave. You belong to a farmer who owns a tobacco plantation on the eastern shore of Maryland. Six long days a week you tend his field. But not for much longer . . .What will you do? Make your choices well as you embark on your journey to freedom.
To play The Underground Railroad: Journey to Freedom, you must download and install the free Sandstone Player Software on your computer. Sandstone is required to support the 3-D style interaction in the game. Click here to find instructions for downloading Sandstone on a Mac or PC.The game is also available as both an iOS and an android app."
Blacks weren’t the only victims of violence by white mobs.
While there are certainly instances in the history of the American South where law officers colluded in mob action, the level of engagement by local and state authorities in the reaction to the Plan de San Diego was remarkable. The lynchings persisted into the 1920s, eventually declining largely because of pressure from the Mexican government.
Historians have often ascribed to the South a distinctiveness that has set it apart from the rest of the United States. In so doing, they have created the impression of a peculiarly benighted region plagued by unparalleled levels of racial violence. The story of mob violence against Mexicans in the Southwest compels us to rethink the history of lynching.
When Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, on June 28 1914, few could have known it would reverberate for four years of brutal war, leading to the fall of three European empires and revolution in what would become the Soviet Union. The past 100 years have seen another World War and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, but much of present-day Europe is based on the lines drawn following the conflict sparked by Princip's bullet.
Seth Dixon's insight:
This interactive map has a nice 'slider' feature to compare the two maps.
Celebrating the 100th year of the National Geographic cartographic department, they provide a truncated roundup of the thousands of maps they've made over the past century. I liked this tidbit about the Germany map above:
Our maps haven't just chronicled history; they've made it. General Dwight D. Eisenhower carried our map of Germany during his 1945 offensive. When a B-17 carrying Admiral Chester Nimitz got lost in a rainstorm, the pilot landed safely using the Society's map of the Pacific war theater. The map, Nimitz later wrote Gilbert H. Grosvenor, "lent an unexpected but most welcome helping hand."
Mega-collector David Rumsey explains how maps are an "archive of information."
With 150,000 or so old print maps to his name, David Rumsey has earned his reputed place among the world's "finest private collectors." But the 69-year-old San Francisco collector doesn't have any intention of resting on his cartographic laurels. He continues to expand his personal trove as well as the digitized sub-collection he makes open to the public online — some 38,000 strong, and growing.
"In the 1930s, at the height of the Great Depression, a down-on-his-luck family man named Charles Darrow invented a game to entertain his friends and loved ones, using an oilcloth as a playing surface. He called the game Monopoly, and when he sold it to Parker Brothers he became fantastically rich—an inspiring Horatio Alger tale of homegrown innovation if ever there was one.
Or is it? I spent five years researching the game’s history for my new book, The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game, and found that Monopoly’s story began decades earlier, with an all-but-forgotten woman named Lizzie Magie, an artist, writer, feminist and inventor."
"Was Walt Disney really more influential than Elizabeth Cady Stanton? John D. Rockefeller than Bill Gates? Babe Ruth than Frank Lloyd Wright? Explore more from The Atlantic on the most influential figures in American history right here."
Seth Dixon's insight:
This is an incredible list...everyone on the list fits my personal idea of "Americans that every educated American should know about" person."
Most people know about Rosa Parks and the 1955 Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott. But nine months before Parks sat down and refused to move, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat on the same bus system. She was one of a number of women who refused to give up their seats in protest of Jim Crow segregation laws.
Heavily redacted versions of the 1964 letter have been available for years, but an uncensored copy was recently discovered by Yale historian Beverly Gage. Now revealed are brazen threats to smear King by making details of his numerous extramarital affairs public and hints at an audiotape that may have accompanied the letter.
While the letter is unsigned, a Senate Committee confirmed a decade after it was sent that it had come from the FBI during then-Director J. Edgar Hoover's five-decade-long leadership of the bureau.
"See every day of the American Civil War unfold as the Union fights against the Confederacy to reunite the country in a bitter struggle."
The Civil War was a crucial moment in American history, a bitter struggle for the nation’s future and, depending on how you look at it, it was basically over before it began. Looking at a dynamic map of the war shows just how hard-pressed the Confederacy was from the start — and how the Union attacked from all sides to crush the South.
Anti-suffrage literature printed in the 1910s, as suffrage activists in the United States ramped up their campaign for enfranchisement, took a number of clever forms. Advocates like the members of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage tried to portray a desire for the franchise as foreign to women’s nature. (See, for example, the many anti-suffrage postcards that used humor to police gender roles, mocking women who wanted to vote as unnaturally aggressive and their husbands as unmanly.)
In this piece of anonymously-authored ephemera, suffragettes are pictured not as men, but as roly-poly three-year-old girls. They bear an array of placards whose slogans mix the actual platform items of women working for the vote (“Votes for Women,” “Equal Rights”) with petulant and childish demands (“No More Early Bedtimes,” “Cake Every Day”).
In the course of the book, the weak-willed protestors leave behind their goals one by one, after kissing boys, eating too many sweets, or simply falling asleep—a story that paints women’s desire for suffrage as frivolous and shallowly felt.
There was an era in history, American history, during which every locality had its own time. People who didn't have access to satellite systems or even, necessarily, telegraphs, waited until the sun was directly overhead and set their clocks to noon. No one cared if their town clock was a few minutes off. And no one cared if the next town over had their noon at a slightly different time.
Then came the railroad. The railroad was fast, and suddenly what had been the journey of months became a journey of weeks or even days. The railroad also had to be kept fast – and profitable – and that meant selling tickets up and down the line, and telling people when they had to be at the station to get on board (hence, the need to create time zones and standardize time across places).
The party originally supported slavery and Indian removal.
The Democratic Party is the longest-existing political party in the US, and arguably the world. But in its over 180 year existence, it's completed a remarkable ideological and geographic transformation. Originally a staunch defender of Southern slavery, the party now wins the support of most nonwhite voters. Once an advocate of rural interests against coastal elites, the party now draws much of its strength from cities and coastal areas. These maps tell the tale of the Democratic Party's origins, its various metamorphoses, and the sources of its strength — and weaknesses — today.
"Hancock (a nurse) was so overcome by the smell that she viewed it as an oppressive, malignant force, capable of killing the wounded men who were forced to lie amid the corpses until the medical corps could reach them. Hancock’s account, vivid in its horror, proves the limitations of the visual record of war. No photograph of the aftermath of the battle, writes Smith, could “capture the sounds, the groans or the rustle of twitching bodies”—and no image could ever capture that smell.
The Smell of Battle is an unconventional history of the Civil War, written with special attention to olfaction, touch, taste, sight, and hearing. It joins other recent histories of the war—Drew Gilpin Faust’s This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War; Michael C.C. Adams’ Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War—in trying to represent the war’s massive levels of death and disruption so that 21st-century readers will really feel the history, deep in their bones."
The apples John Chapman brought to the frontier were very different than today's apples—and they weren't meant to be eaten
John Chapman died in 1845, and many of his orchards and apple varieties didn't survive much longer. During Prohibition, apple trees that produced sour, bitter apples used for cider were often chopped down by FBI agents, effectively erasing cider, along with Chapman's true history, from American life.
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