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Coming Up In American Heritage

November 2023
1min read

As the current horde of presidential hopefuls takes the field, historian Louis W. Koenig reminds us that in-person campaigning by the candidates themselves is a surprisingly recent phenomenon. In “The First Hurrah,” he tells of the turbulent campaign of 1896, when William Jennings Bryan broke an old tradition and created a new one by becoming the first major-party candidate ever to mount an all-out, city-by-city, press-the-flesh search for votes.

In an excerpt from his upcoming biography, Helen and Teacher , Joseph P. Lash—winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 for Eleanor and Franklin —recounts the curious story of Helen Keller’s brief, poignant career as a Hollywood movie star.

”… On the 19th morn of April, 1775, Robert Douglass and myself heard Lexington bell at about one hour before day. We concluded that trouble was near. …” Thus does Sylvanus Wood begin his account of the morning that turned him from a shoemaker into a soldier in the Revolutionary Army. Thayer was speaking in the 1830's, when he, along with hundreds of others, applied for pensions by describing their service in the Revolution. These recently discovered narratives—wonderfully vivid and intimate—are published for the first time in AMERICAN HERITAGE .

Plus: Marshall B. Davidson on the new American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the long—and resurgent—career of the midwife; the first transcontinental automobile trip; the explosion that lowered the temperature of the entire world; a profile of golfer Bobby Jones by Red Smith; and a good deal more, all of it profusely illustrated…

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