Monday, August 27, 2012

Robert McNamara’s Guide to 19th Century History

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As frightening and destructive as hurricanes are, at least in today's world we have warnings of their arrival. That was not the case in the early 19th century, when New York City was caught by surprise.  The Great September Gale hammered the growing city on September 3, 1821. The next day's newspapers described widespread destruction, and those who lived through the storm never forgot it.  And that particular hurricane holds a special place in history as...

The concept of national political conventions began to make sense to Americans as the election of 1832 approached. The incumbent, Andrew Jackson, led a Democratic Party which had been well organized by Martin Van Buren, the New Yorker whose political wizardry earned him the nickname "The Little Magician." Before the strengthening of parties, nominations for president had generally been made at informal caucuses of senators and congressmen. But with the political landscape changing, it was time for parties to come together, conduct some organizing business, and nominate a candidate. The first national nominating convention is barely remembered today, perhaps because...

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