U.S. History to 1800. Selected online articles from newspapers and popular magazines about topics in American history, from earliest history until about 1800.
Go to Century Past History Resources for a directory of all pages.
In 1781, Rhode Island began acquiring nicknames. American newspapers called it ‘the perverse sister.’ ‘An evil genius.’ The ‘Quintessence of Villainy.’ The name ‘Rogue Island’ stuck all the way to 1787, when the Constitutional Convention began and the small state refused to send delegates.
jessiekratz, Pieces of History, National Archives blog 2015
Also see our collection of podcasts and Videos at Podcasts on U.S. History until 1800
The Declaration of Independence is one of the most celebrated and significant documents in history. But how much do you know about it? Here, we bring you eight facts…
History Extra 2014
King George relied on elected politicians, appointed advisors and military officers to help rule the kingdom. These served in a few key positions: the Privy Council, the Cabinet, the Admiralty Board, and the Board of Trade, in addition to the House of Commons and House of Lords. Each of these groups gave a legal foundation to what the king and his government wanted to do.
Will Monk, Journal of the American Revolution 2015
After becoming President, George Washington undertook an extraordinary journey through all thirteen colonies to unite – and learn from – a diverse population of citizens. His quest to unite our nation and discover the “temper and disposition” of its people are an inspiration to us today.
T. H. Breen, American Heritage 2017
Today’s Washington, D.C. owes much of its unique design to Pierre Charles L’Enfant, who rose from obscurity to become a trusted city planner for George Washington. L’Enfant designed the city from scratch, envisioning a grand capital of wide avenues, public squares and inspiring buildings in what was then a district of hills, forests, marshes and plantations.
Kenneth R. Fletcher, Smithsonian.com 2008
See our collected links to Online Collections of Military Maps
The Salem witch trials occurred in colonial Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693. More than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft – the Devil’s magic – and 20 were executed.
By Jess Blumberg, Smithsonian.com 2007
This past weekend, I braved the cold to traipse across the Brandywine Battlefield, located in Chadds Ford, PA. The house of farmer Gideon Gilpin (shown here) still stands, and it is open to visitors as part of the Brandywine Battlefield historic site.
Susan Holloway, Two Nerdy History Girls 2017
Critical decisions by the Chief Justice saved the Supreme Court’s independence – and made possible its wide-ranging role today.
Gordon S. Wood, American Heritage 2010
Strict codes of conduct marked the relationships of early American Politicians, often leading to duels, brawls, and other – sometimes fatal – violence.
Thomas Fleming, American Heritage 2011
Two lists of top books on the American Revolution, compiled by Benjamin L. Carp and Michael McDonnell.
Benjamin L. Carp and Michael McDonnell, Age of Revolutions
Five recommended books each from Benjamin L. Carp and Michael McDonnell, with notes on each.
Benjamin L. Carp and Michael McDonnell Age of Revolutions
It’s often portrayed as an orderly conflict between Patriots, Tories, and British, but the American Revolution caused much suffering, dislocation, and economic decline, and had major effects on Native Americans and Spanish, French, Dutch, and other colonists worldwide.
Alan Taylor, American Heritage 2017
If the opening stages of the American Revolution were about the overthrow of tyranny, then its denouement was defined by the struggle against anarchy – at least, that is, from the perspective of the new nation’s elite.
Tom Cutterham, Age of Revolutions 2017
Vikings’ Scandinavian adventurers who expanded, as far east as the Ukraine and as far west as Greenland and coastal Newfoundland, between the eighth and eleventh centuries C.E.- deserve a more prominent place in early American history than they have yet garnered.
Darcy R. Fryer, Common-Place 2016
Artifacts pulled from the wreck of Blackbeard’s flagship Queen Anne’s Revenge offer a glimpse into the bloody decades of the early 18th century, when pirates ruled the Carolina coast.
Lindley S. Butler, American Heritage 2011
In school, we all learned about Paul Revere and his famous April 18, 1775 ride through the Massachusetts countryside. But, of course, there is much more to the story, including the British commander of all troops in North America, British spies, patriotic tavern keepers, an unsigned manuscript map, and a Boston publisher.
Carlyn Osborn, World’s Revealed, a Library of Congress Blog 2016
1621 account by the Plymouth colony’s governor, Edward Winslow, of the many hardships of the Pilgrims’ first year in Massachusetts.
Edward Winslow, American History Told by Contemporaries
Guided by ancient Norse sagas and modern satellite images, searchers discover what may be North America’s second Viking site.
Mark Strauss, National Geographic 2016
Journal entries for Oct 10-14, 1492 by Christopher Columbus, describing the first days of discovery.
Christopher Columbus, American History as told by Contemporaries
These collected extracts were, according to the 1892 editors, the only written primary sources about Viking exploration in North America.
American History Leaflets 1892
For Independence Day, a Look at Thomas Jefferson’s Egregious Hypocrisy – Scientific American Blog Network
I once admired Jefferson, seeing him as an essentially good, no, great man with one tragic flaw: The writer of the inspiring words ‘all men are created equal’ owned slaves. Now, I see Jefferson as an egregious hypocrite, who willfully betrayed the ideals he espoused.
John Horgan, Scientific American 2016
If there is a single word that best describes Illinois during the French Colonial period, it is strategic. The colony of New France, hereinafter called Canada, was centered upon the eastern end of the Great Lakes waterways, one of two major east-west axes of North America.
Duane Esarey, Illinois Periodicals Online
The story of the 1763 effort by Michigan Indians to conquer Fort Detroit, British Canada’s primary Great Lakes military outpost.
Howard Peckham 1951
Review of Poseidon’s Curse: British Naval Impressment and Atlantic Origins of the American Revolution by Christopher Magra. Christopher Magra believes that impressment played a vital role in the origins of the American Revolution.
Professor Paul Gilje, Reviews in History 2018
Discusses the contributions and points of view of a number of relatively recent books on American at the time of the Revolution.
Eric Herschthal, Journal of the History of Ideas Blog
An account of the author’s research in tracking down the origin of the term “buck” for a dollar.
History Myths Debunked
1st person account by Captain John Smith of the earliest days of the Jamestown Colony.
Captain John Smith, American History told by Contemporaries
Transcript of Washington’s will, published in 1800.
A long letter by Columbus describing the discoveries of his first visit to the Americas, written in February 1493 during the return trip.
Christopher Columbus 1493
Journal account by Father Jacques Marquette of the expedition on which he accompanied explorer Louis Joliet into Illinois country and ‘discovered’ the Mississippi River. Also an introduction by editor Louise Phelps Kellogg, providing background context of the trip.
Father Jacques Marquette 1673, Early narratives of the Northwest, 1634-1699
When it comes to the Madisons’ temperament, history conceals far more than it reveals. With family and close friends, they were as fun-loving a couple – even rowdy – as ever occupied the White House.
David O. Stewart, Smithsonian.com 2015
Eddis was the surveyor of Customs at Annapolis, MD. Here he explains the various types of servitude awaiting many poor immigrants, and how their status would impact their lives in America.
William Eddis, American History told by Contemporaries
The new Canadian site, with telltale signs of iron-working, was discovered last summer after infrared images from 400 miles in space showed possible man-made shapes. The site is on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, about 300 miles south of the first and so far only confirmed Viking settlement in North America, discovered in 1960.
Ralph Blumenthal, NY Times 2016