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A “Crisis of the American Spirit”  

Jimmy Carter

After eleven days of dialogue and contemplation at the presidential retreat Camp David, President Jimmy Carter addressed the nation on television the evening of July 15, 1979. With unusual ... More

Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address  

Abraham Lincoln

On March 4, 1865, at the start of his second term, President Lincoln gave what remains the shortest inaugural address in history. In it, he strove to explain how a merciful God could have ... More

An Account of the Paxton Boys’ Murder of the Conestoga Indians  

Benjamin Franklin

The fullest account we have of the Paxton Boys’ attacks on the Conestoga Indians comes from Benjamin Franklin, who joined with other civic leaders to persuade a force of 250 boys to turn ... More

“Address in the Haymarket Trial”  

On May 4, 1886, as protestors and police faced off against each other in Chicago, an unknown person threw a bomb, killing seven policemen and wounding others. The police fired on the crowd, ... More

Alexis de Tocqueville on Voluntary Associations  

Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville, a French political scientist and historian who traveled the United States in 1831–1832, published his observations in a two-volume book, Democracy in America (Volume ... More

Amulet containing passages from the Qur’an, worn by Muslim slaves who rioted in Bahia, Brazil  

João José Reis

Although slavery was not abolished in Brazil until 1888, slave revolts were frequent and remarkable for their ambitions, success, and diversity of participating elements. Two urban revolts ... More

“An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery,” New York  

New York State Legislatures

After the Revolution, a number of northern states began to abolish slavery within their borders. State legislatures found themselves balancing carefully the rights of slave owners to their ... More

“An Essay Concerning Human Understanding”  

John Locke

John Locke (1632–1704), the noted English philosopher, scientist, and political theorist, was one of the leading intellectuals of his age and one of the most influential architects of the ... More

“And Reform Moves On”  

Tammany Hall

In 1894, New York City reformers drove Tammany Hall from power and installed a Republican coalition. It only lasted a single term. When the new police commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt, ... More

Anne Bradstreet Writes to Her Children  

Anne Dudley Bradstreet

Anne Dudley Bradstreet, born to a prosperous London family, came to the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1630 where first her father and then her husband later served as governor. She was well ... More

Anne Hutchinson Comes to Trial  

Anne Hutchinson

When the Massachusetts Bay Colony was still very young, Anne Hutchinson, a merchant’s wife, held meetings in her house for those who wished to discuss religion. She was accused of promoting ... More

The Anti-Nuclear Movement  

National Conference of Catholic Bishops

The Reagan administration’s defense build-up helped spark a mass movement against nuclear weapons. One of the key anti-nuclear documents during this time was “The Challenge of Peace: God’s ... More

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin  

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin began writing his autobiography in 1771 and returned to the task periodically until he died in 1790. In this selection from the first pages, he describes how he came to ... More

The Autobiography of Sansom Occum  

Sansom Occum

Sansom Occum was a Mohegan Indian from Connecticut. By the eighteenth century, the Mohegans had lost their land and with it their way of life. In the 1740s, Occum was educated at the school ... More

“Big Tim” Sullivan on New York’s Campaign Trail  

Tammany Hall

Big city politics was not just a profession; for its best practitioners, it was more like an art. In downtown New York City, the variety of ethnic groups required an appreciation of ... More

A British Visitor Discovers Wanamaker’s Department Store  

George Steevens

George Steevens, a British journalist, came across the Atlantic in 1896 to collect material for The Land of the Dollar. While visiting Philadelphia, he went to one of the most celebrated ... More

Car Culture  

Robert Lynd and Helen Lynd

Just as Henry Ford’s moving assembly line and system of mass production changed business forever, so too did the product coming off his factory lines: the automobile. Robert and Helen ... More

1. Challenging the War  

Eugene Debs

Eugene Debs, a leader of the Socialist Party of America, vehemently opposed American involvement in World War I. In June, 1918, after visiting several local Socialist leaders who had been ... More

Charles Dickens Describes Five Points  

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens, the English writer and speaker, visited New York City in 1842 and made the following notes on his impression of Broadway and the Five Points district. He published them as ... More

Common Sense  

Thomas Paine

In 1775 the political strife between the colonies and Great Britain turned into outright warfare. Nevertheless, many Americans questioned whether the goal of the conflict should be the ... More