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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In the early 18th century, Black cowboys were the only cowboys in the West. That's because white men didn't want to do the work. So why hasn't their story been told?

By John Donovan

Older than the founding of the United States, the Liberty Bell has endured as a symbol of freedom for many Americans, even though that was not its original role. It wasn't even called the Liberty Bell for some 80 years after its creation.

By Nathan Chandler

More than 70 years ago, Oglala Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear dedicated Thunderhead Mountain as the site of the Crazy Horse Memorial. The monument to honor North American Indians is still under construction.

By John Donovan

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William "Buffalo Bill" Cody was an American soldier, bison hunter and frontiersman. But he's perhaps best-known for being a showman and running Buffalo Bill's Wild West show.

By John Donovan

The residents of the U.S. capital pay taxes, serve in the armed forces and contribute to America's economic strength but have no voting representation in Congress. Many Democrats want to change that.

By Patrick J. Kiger

The Wild West is the stuff of legends, lore and awesome John Wayne movies. How much do you know about the days of saloons and standoffs?

By Alia Hoyt

The Emancipation Proclamation may have signified the formal end of slavery. But almost immediately afterward, Southern states enacted Black Codes that effectively re-enslaved thousands of newly freed Black people.

By Dave Roos

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The Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, aka "Black Wall Street" was one of the wealthiest African American neighborhoods in the U.S. But in 1921 it was the site of the worst race massacre in U.S. history.

By John Donovan

Daniel Shays was the reluctant leader of the Massachusetts insurrection that pit farmers against tax collectors just after the Revolutionary War. Its results led to the writing of the U.S. Constitution.

By John Donovan

Though it's been around for more than 150 years, Juneteeth was still a mystery to many. But now, it's become the newest federal holiday in the U.S.A.

By John Donovan

The historic period of the Harlem Renaissance hit its height a century ago, but its influence has continuously impacted American culture through the decades.

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

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When you think of the California Gold Rush, you probably think a lot of people made millions off that gold, right? Some did, but it wasn't from panning for it.

By Oisin Curran

The U.S. Capitol is one of the most architecturally impressive buildings in the world. And how its design was chosen is quite a story.

By John Donovan

Why not the Big Kumquat or the Big Banana? New York's fruity moniker actually had its beginnings in the sports pages and jazz clubs of the 1920s.

By Kristen Hall-Geisler

Most Americans can at least recite the phrase about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." But what else is inside this document? And what was left out?

By Dave Roos

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It's been 100 years since the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. Why did it take so long for women to get the right to vote in the United States?

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

The Boston Massacre didn't start the American Revolution. But the events that unfolded on March 5, 1770, helped cement the idea that the relationship between England and its colonies was permanently broken.

By John Donovan

Lots of U.S. states have nicknames, but Missouri's flinty moniker arguably is one of the best.

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

What makes the American Revolution stand out in world history? Was it the introduction of guerrilla warfare or its stage outside the borders of its parent nation? All those were noteworthy, but the real revolution was what the Revolution created.

By Josh Clark & Dave Roos

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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.

By Ray Glier

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

By John Donovan

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.

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

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.

By John Donovan

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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.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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.

By John Donovan