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Weekly History News Roundup

DNA suggests salmonella may have killed off Aztecsrare strain of bacteria discovered in corpses


Volunteers struggling to save historic Jewish sites in Middle East… ISIS targets Jewish heritage sites across region


National Museum of African-American history tops 1 million visitorslatest Smithsonian open just four months


Grad student discovers “lost” Whitman novel… mystery tale was published anonymously before the Civil War


Jackson-Trump comparisons do not stand up to historyThe 45th President wishes he were more like the 7th


Tennessee is first state to guarantee annual funding for Civil War preservationfund provides matching grants for private donations

A must visit

A must visit

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The Marble Face

George Washington achieved iconic status during… his lifetime.  His peers held him in such esteem that by the time of his death most Americans were left unaware of the life he led.  Washington quickly faded in the collective memory- he became a statue, figuratively as well as literally.  This dehumanization has caused Washington’s name and reputation to plummet in our national remembrance.  Recent polls of some 600 historians show Washington ranking #3 behind Lincoln and FDR.  Many of the same writers cite unwarranted “hero worship” as the reason for the decline.

Myth or man?

Myth or man?

What troubles many delusional historians… is that Washington was aware of his image as the great patriot-hero.  This was an image he went to great lengths to protect.  This type of self-awareness irks 21st century sensibilities, but was common and accepted in the 18th century.  Washington was not as well read, educated or worldly as his peers, but he always acted appropriately, worked efficiently, and governed wisely.



Washington should still be first… in the hearts and minds of his countrymen.  His great strength was character- the ability to lead men without ruling them.  The example he set has endured through the trials and tribulations of our republic- he is truly, the essential American.

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Exit Interview pt. 2

A continuing examination of the Presidency of Barack Obama… partisanship is kept to a minimum, but the issues raised are the opinions of Practically Historical and its staff.

Another lecture

Another lecture

The Bad…


The clean energy conundrum:  Obama’s attempts to be the first “Green President” cost the tax payers hundreds of millions of dollars in bogus subsidies  and crippled traditional industries(costing thousands of jobs) with an undeclared war on the coal industry.   Considering that the United States accounts for less than 15% of the world’s CO2 emissions, Obama’s policies were decidedly ideological and at odds with the majority of the American people


Minding the store:  The 24 hour news cycle brings local stories national attention, completely skewing proper perspectives.  Obama’s seeming need to insert himself in local and state matters often blurred the lines of Federalism and confounded attempts at reforming law enforcement.  The “beer summit” and professed paternal bond with Trayvon Martin did more to divide the public than promote understanding.  Obama’s image evolved into that of lecturer-in-chief, castigating the public for what he considered their ignorance.  on matters of race, religion, and tolerance.


Selective Enforcement Syndrome:  Despite being declared “scandal-free” by partisans, Obama’s Justice Department was plagued by insidious ideological application of the law.  The half-hearted investigation of  IRS officials  targeting Conservative groups with audits and denying non-profit status based on ideology concluded without a single indictment; conversely, Attorney General Loretta Lynch promptly responded to Congressional Democrats demanding an investigation into secret videos of Planned Parenthood officials leaked by a pro-life group.  The DOJ refused to pursue any charges in the botched DEA operation called “Fast and Furious.” 

Another round was needed

Another round was needed


Next time–  The Ugly

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Executive Ordering

Executive orders were once referred to as “memorandum, notes, or letters”… issued by the President.  Many Americans equate the process with the creation of law, but typically the orders are written to enforce, not write laws.  Recent Presidents have used the authority to implement policies which are not part of a legislative agenda.  Historically, the American people are uncomfortable with an overly-active executive.  The practice has only been officially documented since 1936.

Some perspective on the issuing of Executive Orders is needed….

Most notorious

Most notorious

Ge0rge Washington- 8

James Madison- 1

Andrew Jackson- 12

James K. Polk- 18

Abraham Lincoln- 48

US Grant- 217

Theodore Roosevelt- 1,081

Woodrow Wilson- 1, 803

*Calvin Coolidge- 1,203

Franklin Roosevelt- 3,721

Richard Nixon- 346

George W. Bush- 291

Barack Obama- 276

Donald Trump- 12…. and counting


Building walls

Building walls




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Mrs. Adams, Dr. Physick, and Her Unmentionable Problem

Presidential History Blog

Louisa Catherine Adams: A Brief Medical History

lcadams Louisa Catherine Adams was the well educated and cultured wife of John Quincy Adams.

Louisa Catherine Adams (1775-1852), London born and Paris educated, was raised to be exactly what she would become: a perfect consort for a man of distinction. John Quincy Adams was the US minister to the Netherlands and the son of the Vice President of the United States when he met and married her. His potential distinction was certain, but marital felicity was not.  JQ was a cold, controlling man.  Emotional stress always takes its toll.

Add to this low-grade strain was Louisa’ fifteen pregnancies. She miscarried chronically, sometimes fairly late in her term. There was a stillborn. Another died before she was a year old. Only three sons would be born and live to maturity. It took its toll as well.

When Louisa was in her late thirties, she…

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Tracking Down the Wounding of Joe Johnston

Emerging Civil War

johnston.je4 Joseph Johnston

We are pleased to welcome back guest author Doug Crenshaw, who shares with us today a bit of original research.

It’s something that has puzzled me for years. The wounding of Joe Johnston was an event that changed the course of the Civil War, yet nowhere could I find the exact location where it occurred. I had attempted half-heartedly over the years to locate it, but to no avail. That changed the day Chris Mackowski asked me to see if I could find the spot. A trip to the fabulous yet under-appreciated library of the Richmond National Battlefield Park seems to have provided the answer.

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Revisited Myth # 103: Civil War soldiers underwent surgery with no anesthesia.

History Myths Debunked


The National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, MD, tries to debunk the widespread medical myth that anesthesia did not exist during the Civil War.

Gaseous ether and chloroform were both widely available and their therapeutic impact was well known in both Union and Confederate medical services. (Both had been used since the 1840s.) Major surgery was carried out using these anesthetics if they were available. It is estimated that greater than 90% of all major surgery was carried out with anesthetics. See

But neither ether nor chloroform was available before the 1840s, so Revolutionary War-era medical practices did not include the use of anesthetics.

Other medical misconceptions from the pre-anesthesia era abound. Ben Swenson, a historian and re-enactor who worked at Yorktown, VA, a Revolutionary War site, says visitors often approached him with incorrect assumptions. Something “we heard all the time that was patently false was that…

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