Let’s celebrate American history!
We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for the brave Americans who dared to defy expectations and explore the unknown. We’re celebrating these amazing heroes and their accomplishments with some of our favorite titles. Learn more about your favorite historical figures and some you may have never heard of before!
George loved words. But George was enslaved. He was unable to attend school or learn how to read, but he was determined—he listened to the white children’s lessons, learned the alphabet, and taught himself to read. Soon, he began composing poetry in his head and reciting it as he sold fruits and vegetables on a nearby college campus. Before long, George had customers for his poems, but he was still enslaved. Would he ever be free?
When Abraham Lincoln became frustrated with the actions of James Shield, a political rival, he came up with a plan. It was silly. It was clever. And it was a great big mistake! Lincoln, his future wife, and a friend of hers wrote a series of fictional letters to the editor, complaining about Shields. But when Shields took offense, he challenged Lincoln to a duel. Lincoln would have to use his imagination to save his career―and maybe even his life.
Carter G. Woodson was born to two formerly enslaved people ten years after the end of the Civil War. Carter’s father could not read, so Carter read the newspaper to him every day. When he was still a teenager, Carter went to work in the coal mines. There he met a man who asked Carter not only to read to him and the other miners, but also research and find more information on the subjects that interested them. “My interest in penetrating the past of my people was deepened,” Carter wrote. His journey would take him many more years, traveling around the world and transforming the way people thought about history.
Matthew Henson was born just after the Civil War. Slavery had been abolished, but few opportunities were available for black people. Still, Henson exhibited a yearning for adventure as a child, embarking at age thirteen on a five-year ocean voyage. Henson’s greatest adventure began when Robert Peary invited him to join an expedition to the North Pole. After many storms, injuries, and unimaginable cold, on April 1, Peary, Henson, and four Inuit men began the final 133-mile push to the Pole.\
In 1863, when Ida B. Wells was not yet two years old, the Emancipation Proclamation freed her from the bond of slavery. Blessed with a strong will, an eager mind, and a deep belief in America’s promise of “freedom and justice for all,” young Ida held her family together, defied society’s conventions, and used her position as a journalist to speak against injustice. But how could just one headstrong young woman help free America from the looming “shadow of lawlessness”?
All Bessie wants is to go hiking with her father and brothers. But it’s 1896, and girls don’t get to hike. They can’t vote either, which Bessie discovers when Susan B. Anthony comes to town to help lead the campaign for women’s suffrage. Stirred to action, Bessie joins the movement and discovers that small efforts can result in small changes—and maybe even big ones.
The 26th president of the United States was a strong and clever man who could handle almost everything—except his eldest child, Alice. Whether it was riding a pig, keeping a pet snake, or driving a car—and speeding!—Alice Roosevelt did what she wanted during a time when women were supposed to be conventional and reserved. When her father told her she had to obey his rules while she lived under his roof, Alice decided to spend her time on top of the roof!
From the time she was a child, Jane’s heart ached for others. At first the focus of her efforts was on poverty, and lead to the creation of Hull House, the settlement house she built in Chicago. For twenty-five years, she’d helped people from different countries live in peace at Hull House. But when war broke out, Jane decided to take on the world and become a dangerous woman for the sake of peace.
On Easter Sunday 1939, Marian Anderson performed at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial for a crowd of over 75,000 people. The person largely responsible for putting her there was a white man, Oscar Chapman. When Chapman learned that Marian Anderson was not allowed to sing at Constitution Hall because of the color of her skin, Chapman helped produce a landmark concert that―for at least one evening―bridged the color divide to bring a city and much of the nation together.
Paperback coming in October!
The USS New York looks and sails like other navy ships, but there is something special about this one. Following the events of September 11, 2001, a beam from the World Trade Center Towers was given to the United States Navy. The beam was driven from New York to a foundry in Louisiana, where the seven and a half tons of steel, which had once been a beam in the World Trade Center, became a navy ship’s bow.