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19th century

Notes to Self

Lincoln’s private thoughts on fate, failure, slavery, and belief

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Lines and Lineage

We often forget that the boundary between the United States and Mexico was not always where it is today. It used to be seven hundred miles farther north, following what…

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The Missing

From advertisements taken out in African-American newspapers by former slaves searching for relatives. The earliest ads appeared in 1863. Villanova University and Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Philadelphia,…

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Into the Woods

From descriptions of trees that Henry David Thoreau noted in his journals. The journal entries are included in Thoreau and the Language of Trees, by Richard Higgins, which was published…

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A Peculiar Virtue

Only once have we elected a really ignorant man to the Presidency. Andrew Jackson was almost completely innocent of book-learning when he came to the White House. Furthermore, he was…

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The Monument Wars

For years, whenever I was in New Orleans, I used to run past an equestrian statue just outside the voluptuously green City Park. Though it is situated at a major…

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Old Master

By Marcel Proust (1871–1922), from an essay included in Chardin and Rembrandt, which will be published next month by David Zwirner Books as part of a new series featuring exemplary…

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Tend Your Garden

If we were writing for a prince with ready millions at command, we might take Lord Bacon’s estimate, and say that thirty acres are not too much for a prince-like…

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Leaves of Grassfed

From “Manly Health and Training, with Off-hand Hints Toward Their Conditions,” an article published by Walt Whitman in 1858 under the pseudonym Mose Velsor. It was reprinted by the Walt…

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August 2016

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