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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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

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

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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!

By Alia Hoyt

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.

By John Donovan

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

By John Donovan

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.

By Mark Mancini

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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.

By Dave Roos

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

By Melanie Radzicki McManus

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

By Patrick J. Kiger

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

By Kristen Hall-Geisler

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

By Carrie Tatro

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.

By Dave Roos

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

By Patrick J. Kiger

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

By Carrie Tatro

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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.

By John Donovan

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.

By Carrie Tatro

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

By Carrie Tatro

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?

By Patrick J. Kiger

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

By Patrick J. Kiger

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?

By Mark Mancini

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

By Dave Roos

Has a nuclear bomb ever been dropped on the United States? Well, it happened back in the 1950s. But... it was an accident.

By Laurie L. Dove

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The tension between the U.S. and USSR was palpable — and nearly devastating, thanks to some nuclear-tipped torpedoes and itchy trigger fingers.

By Kate Kershner

Treasure hunter Tommy Thompson claims he can't remember where he put 3 tons of gold from the shipwreck of the S.S. Central America. The courts don't believe him.

By Jesslyn Shields