John Ericsson: The Swede that Saved the Union

Lunch atop a skyscraper

When it comes to America’s naval history, few had more influence on battleship design than a man named John Ericsson. In fact, it’s a Swedish story better than ABBA. Ericsson was a Swedish American who revolutionized steamship propulsion through his invention of the screw propeller. He also invented the first submarine boat, self-propelled torpedo and…

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Charles Curtis: The First U.S. Vice President of Color

Charles Curtis

Did you know the Kamala Harris wasn’t the first U.S. Vice President of color? It’s true. That honor goes to Charles Curtis who served as Herbert Hoover’s Vice President between 1929 and 1933. Today this decorated politician is virtually unknown to Americans but Curtis’ legacy is rich and inspiring. He proved the perfect political pick.…

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Booker T. Washington: The Tuskegee Titan

Booker T. Washington

He was one of Black America’s most highly influential leaders. He proved a prolific author, outstanding orator, influential educator and inspiring leader. He was among the last Black American generation born into slavery. His name was Booker T. Washington (1856-1915). Booker was born into slavery in Virginia, sometime in 1856. After Lincoln emancipated the slaves,…

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George Washington Carver: God’s Peanut Man

George Washington Carver

“When you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” These weren’t just words to George Washington Carver (1864-1943). They were his legacy. Few Americans lived bigger and better lives. Carver was born a slave, but eventually became a botanist, educator, conservationist, and artist.…

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The Day Teddy Made America a New Global Nation

In our global culture and shrinking world–thanks to cyber communications–it’s hard to believe there was a time (120 years ago) when few people ventured more than a day’s walk (20 miles) from home.    That was the significance of this day in 1906. It was the first time a U.S. President visited another country…not by…

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First World Series: How Baseball Opened the American Century

On This Day in History October 1, 1903 First World Series

No sport framed 20th century American culture more than baseball. In fact, America’s story–how we worked, what we believed, the battles we fought and the glory we shared–is found in the game. From the rise of a new industrialized economy to racism (against Jew, Italian, blacks) to celebrity culture, baseball was there. And every time…

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The Real Thing: Coke Advertising

First Coca Cola Advertisement

I’ll confess. I’m deeply biased when it comes to my favorite carbonated beverage. If it’s not a Coca-Cola, it’s not a cola. I don’t know if I was born with this affection (some might call it an affliction), but here I am 58 years later still sipping Coke…albeit in more sugar-free varieties. My favorite is…

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The Model T Defined an Era

The Final Model T is Produced

The Model T was not Henry Ford’s first car, but it might’ve been his best. Also known as the “Tin Lizzie” or “Leaping Lena” or “Jitney” or “Flivver,” the Model T was the first truly affordable automobile. In 1999, it was honored as the “most influential car of the 20th century.” Manufactured between 1908 and…

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The Race of the First Kentucky Derby

On May 17, 1875, America’s most storied horse race was first ran: the Kentucky Derby. The winning jockey was Oliver Lewis aboard a horse name Aristides. We have forgotten how black Americans, in the beginning, not only ran these thoroughbreds but also cared for them. In this first running of the Kentucky Derby, thirteen out…

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The Hindenburg Disaster

Nobody knew it at the time, but the Hindenberg disaster was the beginning of the end for air travel by blimp. For decades, the rich used blimps to travel to new locales, still somewhat faster than the automobile of that day. But as the airplane–a new air tech–found its wings, old-school blimps no longer held…

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