Founding Fathers

A late-19th-century photograph of John Mason's mansion on Analostan Island, now called Theodore Roosevelt Island

This Peaceful Nature Sanctuary in Washington, D.C. Sits on the Ruins of a Plantation

Before Theodore Roosevelt Island was transformed into a tribute to the nation's "conservation president," a prominent Virginia family relied on enslaved laborers to build and tend to its summer home there

The rare George Washington portrait could sell for as much as $2.5 million in January.

The Met Is Selling This Rare Portrait of George Washington

Artist Gilbert Stuart painted the work after the president sat for him in late 1795

This statue of Christopher Columbus resides at Columbus Circle in front of Union Station in Washington, D.C. 

Breaking Down the United States' Historical Obsession With Christopher Columbus

Columbus became Columbus in the American Revolution—when the colonials sought out an origin story that didn’t involve the British

An illustration of William Morgan's abduction

The Masonic Murder That Inspired the First Third Party in American Politics

Public outcry over whistleblower William Morgan's disappearance gave rise to the Anti-Masonic Party, which nominated a candidate for president in 1832

George Washington used the light of this brass candle stand while laboring over his farewell address in 1796.

How George Washington Wrote His Farewell Address

A candle stand used by the first president illuminates his extraordinary last days in office

“I try not to claim that Washington definitely countenanced” the burning of New York City, says historian Benjamin L. Carp. “However, I do think the evidence is suggestive.”

Did George Washington Order Rebels to Burn New York City in 1776?

A new book points out that the general was happy when the city burned and expressed regret that more of it was not destroyed during the fire

In 1804, jurors in New Jersey indicted Vice President Aaron Burr for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Burr’s friends persuaded state officials to drop the charges, but their success had nothing to do with any immunity that Burr enjoyed as an executive officer.

What the Nation's Founders Said About the Indictment of a Former President

Alexander Hamilton wrote that a commander in chief removed from office would be "liable to prosecution and punishment"

Robert Garcia, a newly elected congressman from California, selected several items with personal significance to use at his swearing-in ceremony.

This Congressman Was Sworn Into Office With Rare Superman Comic

California’s Robert Garcia says the superhero embodies values like truth and justice

In July 1827, residents of Boonsboro, Maryland, built the majority of the Washington Monument in just one day.

The Little-Known Story of the First Washington Monument

A stone tower in western Maryland, the structure predates the obelisk on the National Mall by more than two decades

Sotheby's will auction the first-edition copy of the U.S. Constitution on December 13.

A Group of Crypto Investors Is Trying to Buy the Constitution—Again

For the second year in a row, a DAO is vying to bid on a rare first-edition copy

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The Noble Fury of Samuel Adams

How America’s “first politician” galvanized a colony—and helped set a revolution in motion

Only about a dozen first printings of the Constitution are known to exist.

After Selling for $43 Million, Rare Copy of the Constitution Goes on Display

The new exhibition explores diverse interpretations of the document's founding values

By March 1862, Judith Henry's Virginia home had been reduced to rubble.

The Civil War's First Civilian Casualty Was an Elderly Widow From Virginia

Union gunfire killed 85-year-old Judith Carter Henry on July 21, 1861—the day of the First Battle of Bull Run

As recent archival finds and reappraisals of well-known documents show, Liss forged her own path to freedom—and may have even spied on the British while doing so.

Did an Enslaved Woman Try to Warn the Americans of Benedict Arnold's Treason?

New research sheds light on Liss, who was enslaved by the family of a Culper Spy Ring leader and had ties to British spymaster John André

One reader wonders how birds stay balanced on tree branches while they’re asleep. 
 

How Do Birds Stay Upright When They Are Sleeping?

You've got questions. We've got experts

Ben Franklin by Joseph-Siffred Duplessis, ca 1785

Ben Franklin Lives in Your Smartphone

The 18th-century inventor discovered concepts that impact modern technology

Artifacts found in an attic in a Boston home consisted of items such as letters, tools and a trade sign, all believed to have been owned by the family of Paul Revere.

Sold: Paul Revere Family Artifacts Found in a Boston-Area Attic

A trade sign bearing the name of the patriot’s son, along with letters and personal items owned by his grandchildren, sold at auction for $20,000

Franklin believed a turkey killed with electricity would be tastier than one dispatched by conventional means: decapitation.

When Benjamin Franklin Shocked Himself While Attempting to Electrocute a Turkey

The statesman was embarrassed by the mishap—no doubt a murder most fowl

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

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