U.S. History to 1800 – Articles from Magazines & Newspapers

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.

‘Rogue Island’: The last state to ratify the Constitution

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

8 things you (probably) didn’t know about the Declaration of Independence

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

A Brief Guide to the British Government

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

George Washington’s Journey

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

A Brief History of Pierre L’Enfant and Washington, D.C.

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

A Brief History of the Salem Witch Trials

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

A Little House that Survived a Major Battle, 1777

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

Adams Appoints Marshall

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

American Politics at Ten Paces

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

American Revolution Bibliography

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

American Revolution Reading List

Five recommended books each from Benjamin L. Carp and Michael McDonnell, with notes on each.

Benjamin L. Carp and Michael McDonnell Age of Revolutions

American Revolutions: A Continental History

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

Over 170 Magazines free online, from the past & the present, at Read Magazines Online Free

Anarchy and the American Revolution

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

Atlantic Adventurers of the Middle Ages: Do the Vikings Belong in Early American History?

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

Blackbeard’s Terror

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

British Spy Map of Lexington and Concord: A Detective Story

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

Conditions of Life in Plymouth 1621

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

Discovery Could Rewrite History of Vikings in New World

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

Discovery of America – Columbus’s Journal Entry

Journal entries for Oct 10-14, 1492 by Christopher Columbus, describing the first days of discovery.

Christopher Columbus, American History as told by Contemporaries

Extracts from the Sagas describing the Voyages to Vinland

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

Current and past Newspapers from the U.S. & the World at Free Newspaper Archives

Illinois as a French Colony

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

Pontiac’s siege of Detroit (book)

The story of the 1763 effort by Michigan Indians to conquer Fort Detroit, British Canada’s primary Great Lakes military outpost.

Howard Peckham 1951

Poseidon’s Curse: British Naval Impressment and Atlantic Origins of the American Revolution

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

Renovating the American Revolution: The Most Important Stories Aren’t on Broadway

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

Revisited Myth #113: A deerskin was worth a dollar, hence the origin of the word ‘buck’.

An account of the author’s research in tracking down the origin of the term “buck” for a dollar.

History Myths Debunked

The Founding of Virginia in 1607

1st person account by Captain John Smith of the earliest days of the Jamestown Colony.

Captain John Smith, American History told by Contemporaries

The Last Will and Testament of General George Washington

Transcript of Washington’s will, published in 1800.

George Washington

The Letter of Columbus to Luis De Sant Angel Announcing His Discovery

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

The Mississippi Voyage of Joliet and Marquette 1673

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

The Surprising Raucous Home Life of the Madisons

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

The Wretchedness of White Servants (arriving in America) 1770

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

View From Space Hints at a New Viking Site in North America

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

Directory at Century Past History Resources


Your comments and feedback are welcome!