American Presidents

Over the span of two years, Washington visited all 13 original states (14 if you count Maine, which was then part of Massachusetts), traveling on horseback and by carriage along rutted dirt roads and over rising rivers.

When George Washington Took a Road Trip to Unify the U.S.

Nathaniel Philbrick’s new book follows the first president on his 1789 journey across America

One of 664 uranium cubes used in a nuclear reactor during World War II. Researchers are trying to confirm whether a similar cube housed in the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's collections was also part of the Nazis' failed nuclear program.

Did the Nazis Use This Uranium Cube in Their Failed Nuclear Program?

New research may help the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory confirm the identity of a mysterious object in its collections

Lightning strikes the iconic Washington, D.C. landmark “twice per year on the high end and once every five years on the low end,” says meteorologist Chris Vagasky.

Watch a Bolt of Lightning Strike the Washington Monument

The iconic obelisk remains temporarily closed as workers repair an electronic access system damaged by the storm

The sign states, “The use of enslaved labor to build the home of the President of the United States—often seen as a symbol of democracy—illuminates our country’s conflicted relationship with the institution of slavery and the ideals of freedom and equality promised in America’s founding documents.”

New Plaque Tells Story of Enslaved People Who Helped Build the White House

A marker in Lafayette Square is the first public work to acknowledge these individuals' roles in constructing the presidential mansion

After L. A. Huffman, “A Dead Bull” from William T. Hornaday, “The Extermination of the American Bison, with a Sketch of Its Discovery and Life History,”

Smithsonian Voices

How Yellowstone Was Saved by a Teddy Roosevelt Dinner Party and a Fake Photo in a Gun Magazine

Chilling photos of slain buffalo in Yellowstone Park helped pass an act outlining punishment for poaching on public lands. But the photos were fakes

Abraham Lincoln (left) claimed first place, while William Henry Harrison (right) came in 40th.

History of Now

Who Were the Best and Worst Presidents Ever—and How Do Historians Decide?

C-SPAN's 2021 ranking places Trump near the bottom of the list. Obama, Grant rises higher, while Lincoln holds steady in first

Visitors explore during a sneak preview of the newly renovated Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum and Museum in Independence, Missouri. The $29 million expansion took 2 years to complete.

At the Harry Truman Library and Museum, Visitors Get to Ask Themselves Where the Buck Stops

Interactive exhibitions pose questions about the decision to drop the nuclear bomb, the Red Scare, Truman's foreign policy and more

Workers removed the replica Lady Liberty from its plinth on June 7. The statue will set sail for the U.S. on June 19.

France Is Sending the Statue of Liberty's 'Little Sister' on a Trip to the U.S.

The bronze replica, set to go on view at Ellis Island in July, weighs 992 pounds and stands more than 9 feet tall

Astronaut Sally Ride (left) and poet Maya Angelou (right) will be the first individuals honored through the American Women Quarters Program.

Women Who Shaped History

Maya Angelou, Sally Ride to Be Among First Women Featured on U.S. Quarters

Between 2022 and 2025, the U.S. Mint is set to highlight up to 20 trailblazing American women

Lincoln outlived her husband and three of her four children.

Why Historians Should Reevaluate Mary Todd Lincoln's Oft-Misunderstood Grief

A new exhibition at President Lincoln's Cottage connects the first lady's experiences to those of modern bereaved parents

The oil crisis affected everything from home heating to business costs. But the impact was most obvious on the roads.

History of Now

Gas Shortages in 1970s America Sparked Mayhem and Forever Changed the Nation

Half a century ago, a series of oil crises caused widespread panic and led to profound shifts in U.S. culture

America’s public, partisan and passionate campaigns fired up uniformed young men who participated in torchlit marches, a style pioneered by the Republican Wide Awakes stumping for Abraham Lincoln in 1860 (above: a procession stomped through Lower Manhattan’s Printing House Square).

The Little-Known Story of 19th-Century America's Partisan Warfare

In a new book, Smithsonian curator Jon Grinspan examines the history of America's furious and fractious politics

President Donald J. Trump by Pari Dukovic for Time magazine, 2019

Photograph of Former President Donald J. Trump Is Newly Acquired by the National Portrait Gallery

When the museum reopens May 14, the portrait of the 45th president will be on view in the “America’s Presidents” exhibition

The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery boasts the only public collection of images depicting every single U.S. president throughout history.

The Thorny Politics of Presidential Portraiture

In a new podcast, the National Portrait Gallery reveals that a portrait is being commissioned of the former president

This recreated wooden building resembles one that may have housed enslaved people on John Dickinson's Dover, Delaware, plantation.

Graves of Enslaved People Discovered on Founding Father's Delaware Plantation

A signee of the U.S. Constitution, John Dickinson enslaved as many as 59 men, women and children at one time

Rioters enter the U.S. Capitol's rotunda as chemical irritants fill the corridor on January 6, 2021.

History of Now

Curators Seek $25,000 to Repair Artworks Damaged in U.S. Capitol Attack

Rioters vandalized six sculptures and two paintings, in addition to smashing windows, breaking furniture and spraying graffiti

A framed display of locks of George and Martha Washington's hair is estimated to sell for upward of $75,000.

Trove of Presidential Memorabilia, From Washington's Hair to JFK's Sweater, Is Up for Sale

RR Auction is offering a collection of nearly 300 artifacts, including a signed photo of Abraham Lincoln and a pen used by FDR

Famed illustrator Thomas Nast designed this celebration of emancipation, with Abraham Lincoln inset at the bottom, in 1865

Black Lives Certainly Mattered to Abraham Lincoln

A look at the president's words and actions during his term shows his true sentiments on slavery and racial equality

George Peter Alexander Healy, Abraham Lincoln, 1887. Oil on canvas. Dimensions: 188 × 137cm (74 × 53 15/16"). National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; transfer from the National Gallery of Art; gift of the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, 1942. This portrait is on view at the National Portrait Gallery, South Gallery 240.

Smithsonian Voices

A Scholar Takes a Deep Dive Into a Painted Homage to Abraham Lincoln

U.S. artist George Peter Alexander Healy’s presidential portraiture, conceived years after the sitter passed away

Robert S. Duncanson's Landscape With Rainbow (1859) “carries with it an unmistakable ray of hope,” per the Los Angeles Times. “Rainbows typically appear after a storm has passed, not before.”

Inauguration History

Smithsonian Curator Reflects on Joe Biden's 'Poignant' Inaugural Painting

Eleanor Harvey posits that the 1859 landscape's message of hope resonated with First Lady Jill Biden, who helped select the artwork