Founding Fathers

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

For generations, Americans have sought to understand the sense of shared destiny—or perhaps, civic obligation—that forged the nation.

The Pitfalls and Promise of America's Founding Myths

Maintaining a shared sense of nationhood has always been a struggle for a country defined not by organic ties, but by a commitment to a set of ideals

The election of 1800 didn't invent the idea of a peaceful transition of power from one set of ideals to another, but it did engrave the United States into history as a democracy.

Inauguration History

How John Adams Managed a Peaceful Transition of Presidential Power

In the election of 1800, for the first time in U.S. history, one party turned the executive office to another

Several line items in Alexander Hamilton's cashbook indicate that the Founding Father purchased enslaved labor for his own household.

New Research Suggests Alexander Hamilton Was a Slave Owner

Often portrayed as an abolitionist, Hamilton may have enslaved people in his own household

President John Tyler was born in 1790 and died in 1862.

Grandson of President John Tyler, Who Left Office in 1845, Dies at Age 95

Born 14 years after the nation's founding, the tenth commander-in-chief still has one living grandson

“The postal service is one of the oldest federal agencies,” says Daniel Piazza, a curator of philately at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum. “Maybe for that reason, we tend to take it for granted. But we have always relied on it, whether for news from home, prescription medications or e-commerce.”

A Brief History of the United States Postal Service

To forge a nation, the founders needed an efficient communications network

Shannon LaNier, a TV news anchor, has complex feelings about being descended from Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. “He was a brilliant man who preached equality, but he didn’t practice it. He owned people. And now I’m here because of it.”

These Portraits Revisit the Legacies of Famous Americans

Photographer Drew Gardner painstakingly recreates the images with the notable figures' descendants

The Washington Family, painted by Edward Savage in New York City while Washington was the nation's president. The children in the portrait are Martha Custis Washington's grandchildren, to whom George was a father figure.

The Father of the Nation, George Washington Was Also a Doting Dad to His Family

Though he had no biological children, the first president acted as a father figure to Martha's descendants

Washington, who tended to favor surprisingly silly names for his animals—his dogs answered to Sweetlips, Drunkard and Madame Moose—went literal when it came to the mule, who he called Royal Gift.

George Washington Saw a Future for America: Mules

A newly minted celebrity to the world, the future president used his position to procure his preferred beast of burden from the king of Spain

The Landsdowne portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart

A New Book About George Washington Breaks All the Rules on How to Write About George Washington

Alexis Coe's cheeky biography of the first president pulls no punches

Revere's engraving of the Boston Massacre

Exploring Paul Revere’s Legacy Beyond His Famed Midnight Ride

Before becoming an American legend, the Revolutionary War hero was best known as a skilled artisan, activist and entrepreneur

In the corner of one side of the document, Washington wrote "Genealogy of the Washington Family in Virginia"

This Long-Ignored Document, Written by George Washington, Lays Bare the Legal Power of Genealogy

In Washington’s Virginia, family was a crucial determinant of social and economic status, and freedom

This detail of The Apotheosis of Washington, a fresco painted in the 19th century by Constantino Brumidi in the eye of the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building, depicts George Washington rising to the heavens, flanked by the Roman goddesses of liberty (left) and victory (right).

Why No One Can Agree on What George Washington Thought About the Relationship Between Church and State

The first president wanted to unite citizens of all religions without alienating Catholics, freethinkers and Jews

"Hamilton: The Exhibition" opened at Northerly Island in Chicago on April 26, 2019.

‘Hamilton: The Exhibition’ Opens in Chicago to Eager Fans

The sweeping show uses interactive visuals, games and sets to provide an in-depth look at the history behind the hit musical

This eagle pendant was once worn by Founding Father Alexander Hamilton to signify his membership in an elite society

Hamilton Family Heirlooms to Go on View at Philadelphia Exhibition

Artifacts include an eagle pendant owned by Alexander Hamilton and a gold mourning ring worn by Elizabeth following his death

Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam

What Did the Founding Fathers Eat and Drink as They Started a Revolution?

They may not have been hosting a cookout, but they did know how to imbibe and celebrate

A photo taken outside of "Hamilton: An American Musical" in Chicago. The new exhibition will join the musical in the Windy City in the fall of 2018.

Future of Art

Hamilfans, Rejoice: Exhibition on the Revolutionary Musical Is Slated to Open This Fall

'Hamilton: The Exhibition' is coming to Chicago in November

John Adams didn't literally call the Philadelphia Aurora (also known as the Aurora General Adviser) "fake news," but he was not pleased by the way he was often depicted in it.

History of Now

The Age-Old Problem of “Fake News”

It’s been part of the conversation as far back as the birth of the free press

In a letter of 1770, Benjamin Franklin described tofu ("tau-fu") to his friend John Bartram as a sort of cheese made from "Chinese Garavances"—what we would call soybeans.

Ben Franklin May Be Responsible for Bringing Tofu to America

How a letter of 1770 may have ushered the Chinese staple into the New World

An illustration of Washington's imagined deathbed scene, painted about 50 years after his death.

George Washington’s Hard Death Shows the Limits of Medicine in His Time

He’s one of the United States’s most revered figures, but his last hours were plagued by excruciating illness

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