When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, ....

 

from The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America otherwise known as The Declaraton of independence

"Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus - from The New Colossus (1883)

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

 

Katharine Lee Bates - America the Beautiful (1913 version)

American History

Other Resources:       audio          books          software          video

   american history          america's foundation

 

Far too many people know very little about American history (check out this article from CNN) and as Mark Twain once said "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."  Many who think themselves knowledgeable concerning American History not only are not, but they 'know' a lot that just isn't so.  The content of the College Board's AP history exam is being changed to, shall we say, emphasize a 'history' of America that most of us rightly would not recognize.

 

All this is a major indictment of our public education system.  But that doesn't mean that WE can't be knowledgeable about our history, and nothing is stopping us from passing that knowledge on to our children and grandchildren.

 

There are a lot of really great resources for American History.  We will be adding them gradually over time.

 

It is important for Americans to know American history, especially today when schools seem to be intent on teaching that America is bad, bad, bad (see A People's History of the United States below).  When I was a lad I was taught that we kids were so fortunate to live in the United States, that our country had done great things from the beginning and that when we made mistakes, we attempted to correct them, and we were still the greatest nation on God's green earth.  Do not think for a moment that our children are being taught anything like that today.  You cannot correct misconceptions if you don't know the facts.

 

At Dawn We Slept by Gordon W Prange (new).

If you think you know a lot about the background of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (and the attack itself and the aftermath), think again.  This is the definitive book on the subject and should be required reading for all WWII history buffs.  Especially fascinating is the story of the Japanese decision to make the attack and the planning associated with it.

Available at Amazon

 

Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville. 

de Tocqueville, a young French nobleman, spent nine months touring the United States in 1831-2.  He was curious about the new democracy and wondered how the lessons of American might be applied to Europe.  His insights about America are remarkably astute and apply even today; both what he admired about America as well as the warnings he had.  To truly understand the United States and what make us unique among the nations of the world, de Tocqueville is a must.

Available in numerous editions at Amazon.

 

The Federalist Papers by James Madison, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton. 

Before the U.S. Constitution could become the law of the land, it needed to be ratified by all of the thirteen states - not a simple task.  Madison, Jay and Hamilton (writing under the pseudonym Publius) set about trying to 'sell' the Constitution by writing a series of 85 articles and essays explaining and promoting hte proposed Constitution.  They have been described as  an "incomparable exposition of the Constitution, a classic in political science unsurpassed in both breadth and depth by the product of any later American writer."

Available at Amazon or online for free at Thomas (the Library of Congress).

 

A History of the American People by Paul Johnson.

From an Amazon review:  "What makes this book unique is Johnson's approach to this self-professed Herculean task. The prevalent tone throughout is optimism. Whether he's discussing race relations, industrialization, the history of women, immigrants, Vietnam, or political correctness, Johnson--a staunch conservative who was born, bred, and educated in England--is openly enamored with America's past, particularly the hardships and tribulations that the nation has had to overcome. He sees this story as a series of important lessons, not just for Americans but for the whole of mankind as well."

Karen P believes that this is the best single volume history of America.

Available at Amazon.

 

The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel.

(1492-1793 Did God have a plan for America?)

"For those of us who, like the authors, have been exposed mostly to the secular accounts of this period of American history, the information presented becomes a revelation of very great magnitude. ... This book is important. I would that every professing Christian read Gods Holy Bible and this book. There are, of a surety, better and more comprehensive histories than this, but I would recommend none more highly to introduce the student to our Christian American roots as pertains to our beginnings on these shores." -- Christian Forum Book Review

Peter Marshall is indeed the son of the well-known Senate Chaplain of the same name and author Catherine Marshall.  There is a subsequent volume which we will add at our leisure.

Available at Amazon.

 

Miracle At Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention May - September 1787 by Catherine Drinker Bowen.

A very detailed history of the writing of the Constitution.  It is fascinating how so many of the provisions came about.  Our Constitution is truly a remarkable document with fierce debate and compromises galore.  And yet consider the end result.  The author does not use the word 'miracle' in the title as hyperbole.  It was a miracle that so many great minds came together at the same time, a miracle that so many of strong and differing opinions could have come to any compromises at all, much less in a manner to be ratified by all the states.  If I had not already been persuaded of the genius of our founders and the greatness of George Washington in particular, this book would have done the job.  Published in 1966, no one has come close to matching it since.

Available at Amazon.

 

Nothing Like It in the World by Stephen Ambrose (new).

This is a history of the building of the transcontinental railroad.  It was decades before anything similar was attempted elsewhere in the world.  This is the story of what used to be the American attitude: there is nothing we can't do.  When asked where he could and couldn't build a railroad, one of the construction engineers replied that if you could get a survey team in, he could lay the track.  The reviews at Amazon are mixed, but I enjoyed it enough to read it twice.  Very inspiring.

Available at Amazon

 

 

A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen

This book was probably written specifically in response to the 'People's History' by Howard Zinn (below).  It might go a little overboard in the opposite direction, but not much.  It is surprisingly fair and balanced; definitely written by authors who love their country, but who are not viewing it through rose colored glasses.

Available at Amazon.

 

Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer

See Washington's Crossing (below) by the same author.  Similarly, this book covers much more than Paul Revere's famous ride.  You will learn much you may not have already known, such as Revere's capture by the British.  Learn all about the Battles of Lexington and Concord and "the shot heard 'round the world."  The narrative is gripping, so be prepared to stay up later than planned.

Available at Amazon.

 

A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. 

Do NOT read this book.  I've included it as a warning.  It is very popular and is heavily assigned in school - and this is a major indictment of our education system.  The fact that the entire book focuses on the bad in America is not the problem.  Lots of histories cover the good, so why not focus on topics that get the short shrift in other books?  The problem is that Zinn states as fact so many things that just aren't so - all from a left-wing perspective.  And he can't be bothered with little things like footnotes and references to original sources so you have to assume that he is simply stating his opinion.

 

Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer.

Fischer is a prolific author who has written a number of extremely readable books on rather narrow topics in American History.  But not too narrow.  Washington's Crossing covers a lot of territory.  Having lived near Trenton, NJ for over 30 years, we are very familiar with the geography and the names associated with the Battle of Trenton, but the book made it all come alive in a manner that mere facts cannot convey.  You may be surprised to learn that Washington's army was divided in order to cross the Delaware River at more than one location and to attack Trenton from more than one direction.  Only the northern-most crossing was successful.  Military operations never go off as planned, and yet in spite of everything that went wrong, the operation was a dramatic success.  Many historians believe that without this success, the Revolutionary War would have been lost.

Available at Amazon.

 

1776 by David McCullough

According to some recent surveys and man-in-the-street interviews, a horrifyingly large number of Americans do not have a clue as to what happened in 1776, possibly the most momentous single year in recent history.  1776 covers the beginning of the American Revolution.  It is meticulously documented and includes a lot of fascinating trivia which adds a lot to the narrative.  Don't count yourself among the ignorant, read 1776.

Available at Amazon.

 

Online Courses:

 

Constitution 101: The Meaning & History of the Constitution from Hillsdale College.

However much you think you know about the Constitution, there is always more to learn.  Great course.

 

History 102: American Heritage—From Colonial Settlement to the Reagan Revolution.  (New)  Another great course from Hillsdale.

 

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