Alexander defeats the Persians, Destruction of PompeiiThe Crusades, The Black Death...Salem Witch TrialsWriting the Declaration of Independence, Battle of Lexington...Escape from slavery, Death of President Garfield..Battle of Gettysburg, Death of Lincoln...Custer's Last Stand, The Death of Billy the Kid...San Francisco Earthquake, Sinking of the Titanic...
Death of an air ace, Gas attack...Attack at Pearl Harbor, D-Day...Freeze Frame of HistoryPhotographic Gateways to HistorySounds from the pastFilm Clips from the PastList of ContentsReturn to Home Page

19th Century
 Washington, D.C., 1800
"I arrived in this city on Sunday the 16th. Having lost my way in the woods on Saturday." Abigail Adams describes the new capital and her ordeal in getting there.

 President Jefferson in the White House
His pet bird, the introduction of the dumb waiter, and dinner conversation - a frequent visitor provides a portrait of Jefferson as President.

 A Duel At Dawn, 1804
". . .he gave the word present, as had been agreed on, and both parties presented and fired in succession." The fatal meeting of Vice President Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton on a New Jersey field.

 The Death of Lord Nelson, 1805
"I am a dead man, Hardy. I am going fast: it will be all over with me soon." Britain's greatest naval hero meets his Maker during the Battle of Trafalgar.

 Fulton's First Steamboat Voyage, 1807
"I could hear distinctly repeated- 'I told you it was so; it is a foolish scheme: I wish we were well out of it.'

 "Shanghaied", 1811
"(I was) accosted by a person in seamen's dress who tapped me on the shoulder." Walking a street in London, a young man is forced into service in the British Navy.

 "Old Ironsides" Earns its Name, 1812
"...we commenced a very heavy fire from all our guns, loaded with round, and grape..." Barely 50 yards from her opponent, the USS Constitution shoots it out with a British frigate and wins the name "Old Ironsides."

 The British Burn Washington, 1814
"They proceeded, without a moment's delay, to burn and destroy everything. . .connected with government." British troops sack the nation's capital during the War of 1812.

 Dolley Madison Flees the White House, 1814
"I must leave this house, or the retreating army will make me a prisoner in it." America's First Lady flees the approaching British Army, and saves a portrait of George Washington.

 The Battle of New Orleans, 1815
"Well, in eighteen and fourteen we took a little trip along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Missip." A rag-tag force of Americans rout the world's mightiest military power in the last battle of the War of 1812.

 The Battle of Waterloo, 1815
Napoleon's bid to dominate Europe is squashed with his defeat on a Belgian battlefield.

 Napoleon Exiled to St. Helena, 1815
The French Emperor is banished to a desolate, rock-crusted island in the South Atlantic.

 The Inauguration of President of President Andrew Jackson, 1829
"Ladies fainted, men were seen with bloody noses and such a scene of confusion took place as is impossible to describe," The celebration of the inauguration of the "People's President" gets out of hand.

 Aboard a Slave Ship, 1829
"The slaves were all inclosed under grated hatchways between decks." A minister recounts his experience of boarding a slave ship stopped off the coast of Africa

 America's First Steam Locomotive, 1830
It was not a spectacular beginning: in its first outing, the locomotive Tom Thumb was beaten by a horse.

 A Portrait of America, 1830
"Every boy knew that. . .there was nothing to hinder him from being President; all he had to do was to learn." America was on the threshold of dramatic change and buoyed by tremendous optimism for the future.

 Traveling the National Road, 1833
"A covered one-horse wagon generally contains the whole worldly substance of a family consisting not un-frequently of a dozen members." Up and over the Allegheny Mountains, it was America's first gateway to the West and a pathway for dreams.

 Traveling the Erie Canal, 1836
It was the engineering marvel of its day. It made New York City America's premier port and opened up the West to the first wave of settlement. Ride along on a canal boat - but watch out for those low bridges!

  A Slave's Life
"When I was about seven years old I witnessed, for the first time, the sale of a human being." A former slave describes her life.

 Victoria Becomes Queen, 1837
The 18 year-old Victoria describes to her diary the day she became Queen of the world's mightiest empire.

 Escape From Slavery, 1838
Frederick Douglass describes his dash to freedom.

 A Flogging at Sea, 1839
"Swinging the rope over his head, and bending his body so as to give it full force, the captain brought it down upon the poor fellow's back. Once, twice - six times."

 P.T. Barnum Discovers "Tom Thumb," 1842
"I had heard of a remarkably small child in Bridgeport. . ." The "World's Greatest Showman" finds his greatest attraction.

 Living among the Shakers, 1843
"During the dance the sisters kept on one side, and the brothers on the other, and not a word was spoken by any of them." The Shakers attempt to construct their own Utopia.

 Visit to the "Red Light" District, 1843
"...there passed me a man holding up under his arm a woman who was so drunk that she could not walk alone." Descend into the dark side of early Victorian society in urban America.

  The Irish Potato Famine, 1847
"I saw the dying, the living, and the dead, lying indiscriminately upon the same floor." Travel with a reporter as he observes Ireland's greatest disaster

 Aboard a Whaling Ship, 1850
Thar She Blows!... "The boat spun after him with almost the swiftness of a top, now diving through the seas and tossing the spray, and then lying still while the whale sounded."

  Entering the Forbidden City of Mecca, 1853
"...a splendid camel in front of me was shot through the heart." An intrepid British explorer risks his life to enter the holy city of Mecca.

 The Charge of the Light Brigade, 1854
"They swept proudly past, glittering in the morning sun. . ." In an incident later immortalized by poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, a reporter describes the headlong charge of a British cavalry unit into murderous Russian gunfire.

 Life on a Southern Plantation, 1854
"The plows at work, both with single and double mule teams, were generally held by women, and very well held, too." Life on a Mississippi plantation before the Civil War

 Return of a Fugitive Slave, 1854
"...a detachment of infantry charged upon the dense mass, at a run, with fixed bayonets." On the eve of the Civil War, the return of a fugitive slave ignites a near-riot in Boston.

 Livingstone Discovers Victoria Falls, 1855
". . .we came in sight, for the first time, of the columns of vapor appropriately called 'smoke,' rising at a distance of five or six miles." The great explorer becomes the first European to witness the "Smoke That Thunders"

 Andrew Carnegie Becomes a Capitalist, 1856
“I showed them this check . . . none of us had ever received anything but from toil. A return from capital was something strange and new.” The world's richest man describes his transformation from worker to capitalist.

 Slave Auction, 1859
"...The expression on the faces of all who stepped on the block was always the same, and told of more anguish than it is in the power of words to express."

 Good Manners for Young Ladies, 1859
"After twilight, a young lady would not be conducting herself in a becoming manner, by walking alone."

 The Trial of Andrew Johnson, 1868
The vote of one Senator saves the President of the United States from removal from office

 The Ku Klux Klan, 1868
"I shook hands with Bob before they hanged him." A former slave describes his encounters with the KKK soon after the end of the Civil War

 Stanley Finds Livingstone, 1871
"Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

 Building the Brooklyn Bridge, 1871
"...a dreadful pain shot through both my ears." Nothing like it had ever been attempted before: join a "sandhog" working below the East River

 The Baseball Glove Comes to Baseball, 1875
"He confessed that he was a bit ashamed to wear it..."

The Death of President Garfield The Death of President Garfield, 1881
Who killed the President, his assassin or his doctors?

 A Portrait of Thomas Edison
"I'm not a scientist. I am an inventor." An inside look at an inventor that changed our world.

 College Football, 1884
"There were no coaches, trainers, rubbers, or even a water boy." A player describes the early days of college football.

 Opulence in the Gilded Age, 1890
"Then, all around , and in fact above the entire table, hung little golden cages with fine songsters who filled the room with their melody.. ". A lavish dinner party exemplifies the life of America's wealthiest during the "Gilded Age."

 Death of a Child, 1890
"I found the patient on the top floor stretched upon two chairs. . ." Jacob Riis documents life in the New York City tenements.

 Corbett Knocks Out Sullivan, 1892
It was the "fight of the century" and the 1st Heavyweight Championship fought with gloves.

 Hobo, 1894: Hard Times in America
"'Thirty days,' said his Honor. . . The trial of that hobo had taken just about fifteen seconds." Thousands of unemployed take to the roads and railways of America as economic depression plagues the country. Join one of these hobos.

 Leaving Home for the "Promised Land", 1894
"The procession [to the station] resembled both a funeral and a triumph. The women wept over us." A young girl describes the bittersweet departure of her family for America.

 America's First Automobile Race, 1895
"While still in the lead, the left front wheel struck a bad rut at such an angle that the steering arm was broken off." NASCAR, the Indy 500: it all started here. Ride along in America's first automobile race.

 First to Sail Around the World Alone, 1895-98
One of the greatest sea adventures ever told.

 The United States Declares War on Spain, 1898
"(The President) broke down and cried like a boy of thirteen." President McKinley reluctantly asks Congress to declare a war that launches America along the path to becoming a world power.

 The Battle of Manila Bay, 1898
"I am happy to report that the damage done to the squadron under my command was inconsiderable." The words of Commodore Dewey, Commander of America's Asiatic Squadron after its victory over the Spanish Fleet in the Philippines: a triumph that launched America's journey to becoming a world power.

 The Rough Riders Storm San Juan Hill, 1898
The successful charge up an obscure hill in Cuba during the Spanish-American War puts Theodore Roosevelt on the path to the presidency.

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