Series Blog

John Quincy Adams - Faith and Politics


Early on the morning of June 13, 1825, as was his daily custom, 57-year-old President John Quincy Adams went swimming in the Potomac. Instead of swimming near the bank as he usually did, Adams and his servant Antoine Guista decided to row a small boat across the wide river and swim back. When they were halfway across the river, a fierce wind suddenly arose, and their boat filled with water, forcing them to jump overboard.

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Lucy Stone and the Women's Rights Movement


Lucy Stone was born in West Brookfield, Massachusetts, in 1818 and died in Boston in 1893. She was one of the most famous women of her day—as a lecturer for abolition and women’s suffrage and one of the most important leaders of the nineteenth-century women’s rights movement.

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The Worldwide TB Epidemic


The move to suburban living and the development of active public health programs have reduced the burden of tuberculosis -- a serious, sometimes fatal infectious disease of the lungs -- in many affluent countries. Many of us, however are not so lucky and are still faced with the ugly specter of TB which was so eloquently portrayed in the recent American Experience documentary, The Forgotten Plague.


The Fire of 1910 - Why It Still Matters


Never in recorded United States history has there been anything to match the fire of 1910. For its size, its ferocity, its impact, nothing comes close. Over the course of a weekend, 3 million acres were burned -- an area equal to the size of Connecticut. Several towns were leveled, and about 100 people were killed, as well.

But beyond the astonishing numbers about timber blown down in hurricane force winds, and temperatures at the peak of the firestorm touching 2,000 degrees, the fire stands out for another reason. As a nation, the United States had never tried to organize a large force to fight a wildfire. It was done in 1910, and the lessons, and consequences, are with us still.

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Inventing a Light Bulb, Innovating an Electrical System: Thomas Edison and the Transformation of Invention


The name Thomas Edison has become synonymous with invention and his most famous invention, the electric light bulb, has become a familiar symbol for that flash of inspired genius traditionally associated with invention. In part the light bulb's symbolic value comes from its obvious role as a visual metaphor of the "bright idea." But this symbolism also arises from its association with Thomas Edison -- the electric light as the greatest invention of the world's greatest inventor. The "electric light," however, was no single invention emanating from an inspired genius. Instead it was a complex network of inventions produced by teams of researchers working under his direction in the world’s first true invention laboratory. As he invented the system of electric lighting, Edison simultaneously reinvented the system of invention.

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