American History

Explore the development of the United States with this collection of articles about American history. Topics in this section include the American Revolution, the gold rush and the expansion of the West.

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How Atlanta's Cyclorama Was Used to 'Spin' the Civil War

After the Civil War, the United States was still a country divided. And the history of a monumental piece of artwork that resides in Atlanta shows how even art was used to rewrite the narrative of the war.

How Manifest Destiny Stretched the U.S. From Sea to Shining Sea

The early American philosophy known as Manifest Destiny was a doctrine that espoused that God wanted Americans to take over the continent.

POW/MIA Bracelets Helped U.S. Remember Missing Soldiers

Back in the early 1970s, two college coeds had the idea to create bracelets for sale to the public as a means of keeping imprisoned U.S. soldiers alive in the hearts and minds of the public. This is the story.

What We Learned From the Deadliest Nightclub Fire in U.S. History

Hundreds were killed in the infamous 1942 Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston. But from the tragedy came advancements in everything from building codes and medical treatments that are still in place today worldwide.

How the Articles of Confederation Paved the Way for the U.S. Constitution

The first framework for the government of the United States was the Articles of Confederation, written in 1777 and ratified in 1781, which set up a relatively weak central government without federal courts or even the power to levy taxes.

How Jim Crow Shaped America

Jim Crow was about much more than laws enacted to suppress blacks. It was about a system involving politics, economics, social and cultural practices. And while the laws may be dead, Jim Crow is not.

What's in a Nickname? The State Nickname Quiz

It's hard to sum up something as big as a state in just a few words, but that doesn't stop them from trying! What does it mean to be from the 'Show-Me' state or to be a Sooner? Find out how vast your state nickname knowledge is with our quiz!

The O.K. Corral: The Gunfight of All Gunfights

This infamous gun battle in Tombstone, Arizona lasted just 30 seconds. But its legend, and America's obsession, has endured for more than a decade.

Who Were the Mighty Fighting Buffalo Soldiers?

The African American servicemen known as "Buffalo Soldiers" are the subjects of both history and legend, but what is truth and what is lore?

The Rise and Fall of the Oregon Trail

Hundreds of thousands of emigrants traveled the 2,170-mile Oregon Trail in search of a better life. And thousands of them were injured — and even died — on the journey along the way.

The Ghosts of Gettysburg's Devil's Den

Devil's Den was the site of the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War. Not surprisingly, it's rumored to be haunted with the ghosts of many dead soldiers.

The Missing States of the United States

There are 50 states in the U.S., but there have been many proposals over the years to add more.

5 Causes of the Great Depression: Could It Happen Again?

The Great Depression may seem like ancient history, but many of the factors that contributed to it still pose economic risks today.

Things Are Indeed Bigger in Texas

The saying is really true. Texas is big. And so is everything in it.

Frederick Douglass' North Star Newspaper Relaunched

Frederick Douglass' pivotal 19th century abolitionist newspaper has been relaunched for a 21st century audience.

The 'Green Book' Was a Lifeline for Black Travelers

Before the 1964 Civil Rights Act and even after it, the tradition of the "great American road trip" was very different for families of color.

What's Inside Mount Rushmore's Not-So-Secret Chamber?

Yep – there is a hidden space behind those famous presidential faces.

Who Built These Mysterious Concrete Arrows?

The last vestiges of America's early transcontinental airmail beacon system still exist as giant arrows across the landscape.

How the U.S.-Mexico Border Became a Political Flashpoint

The roughly 2,000-mile boundary between the countries has been around only since the mid-1800s. But today it's a political line in the sand — literally and figuratively.

Penn Center: A Little-known Haven of the Civil Rights Movement

Penn Center, located on sleepy St. Helena Island in South Carolina, may be the most important African-American historical landmark you probably don't know about.

Why Americans Celebrate Black History Month in February

Does February have special historical significance in African-American history?

Why Isn't William McKinley a More Famous President?

William McKinley was popular, successful, re-elected and assassinated. He shaped money's influence in politics, and transformed the United States into an international power. Why isn't the 25th president better known?

Why the 21st Century Actually Might Have Started in 2007

Was our current era defined by the introduction of the iPhone, the hashtag, and a professional wrestling appearance by a future U.S. president?

Why Didn't Russia Sell Alaska to Canada?

It made geographical sense for Russia to sell its territory of Alaska to Canada, but it opted to sell it to the U.S. instead. But why?

Black Loyalists Fought for Their Freedom During the American Revolution

During America's War for Independence, the British promised enslaved Africans their freedom if they'd join their side. Thousands signed up.