Edward Achorn Articles


Founders-in-Arms

Two very different men with the same ideas.
Feb 15, 2016

George Washington firmly believed that the “hand of Providence" was "conspicuous" in the miracle of American independence—secured by a ragged army, more than once on the brink of annihilation, against the greatest military power on earth. Certainly, astonishing fortune seemed to attend the Americans—perhaps no more so than in Washington's improbable relationship with Alexander Hamilton. Their alliance uncannily blended the strengths of both men into a vital force that launched America and changed the world.

"Indeed, no other founding collaboration was as important to achieving victory and nationhood as Washington and Hamilton's," Stephen F. Knott and Tony Williams argue persuasively in this feisty new account.

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Call Me, Ishmael

An antiquated tale that’s never out of fashion.
Feb 13, 2012

"Dollars damn me,” Herman Melville confessed to Nathaniel Hawthorne in June 1851, when he was contemplating the finishing touches on Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. “What I feel most moved to write, that is banned,—it will not pay. Yet, altogether, write the other way I cannot.

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A War of Words

Reading the arguments that led to rebellion.
Dec 07, 2015

Long before cannons, muskets, blood, and bitter sacrifices settled the question of American independence, a revolution occurred “in the minds and hearts of the people,” John Adams recalled late in life.

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The Yankee Traders

An unlikely duo spawns a baseball dynasty.
May 04, 2015

The Dynasty. The Evil Empire. The Bronx Bombers (and, at times, Zoo). Valued at $2.5 billion. Winner of 18 division titles, 40 American League pennants, and 27 World Series. No sports franchise in America approaches the orbit of the New York Yankees.

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The Other Mrs. Adams

A view from the front row of the young republic.
Jun 16, 2014

When Abigail Adams first met her daughter-in-law Louisa, wife of future president John Quincy Adams, she was not greatly impressed. Even before the marriage, Abigail “was troubled by the fear that Louisa might not be made of stuff stern enough, or brought up in conditions severe enough, to suit a New England climate, or to make a sufficient wife for her paragon son, and Abigail was right on that point,” wrote Louisa’s grandson, Henry Adams.

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Secondhand Rose

Will he, won’t he, should he be in the Hall of Fame?
Apr 21, 2014

Do we really need another book about Pete Rose?

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Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

The first of three (!) volumes on the Fab Four.
Dec 16, 2013

Every Christmas season a new load of books about the Beatles appears, capitalizing on a baby-boom market that has yet to flicker out and the enduring love many middle-aged people feel for the Liverpudlians’ joyous noise from the 1960s. But the fanatics among us have been waiting with mounting impatience for something special, a work we knew would be both authoritative and groundbreaking: the first of three volumes of a history of the band by one Mark Lewisohn.

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Reserve Judgment

How one national pastime (baseball) has been injured by another (the law).
Sep 02, 2013

For decades, the lords of big-league baseball scrambled to protect their antitrust exemption, warning that the professional game would fall apart if the owners could not conspire against free markets to run it their way. Most of all, they wanted to protect the reserve clause, under which a player was bound to one club as long as that club wanted him rather than permitted to sell his services to the highest bidder.

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Precious Stuff

Every souvenir tells a story worth hearing.
Jul 29, 2013

A few years ago, I found the scorecard my grandfather had kept of a September 16, 1904, doubleheader he attended at Boston’s Huntington Grounds. He saw Cy Young pitch in the opener for the Boston Americans (now Red Sox) and Jack Chesbro pitch in the second game for the New York Highlanders (now Yankees). A newspaper clipping noted that George Wright, a member of the first openly professional baseball team, the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, had watched the action that day from the front row.

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Douglas of the West

He was not called ‘the Little Giant’ for nothing.
Dec 03, 2012

His contemporaries called him “the Little Giant.” They recognized that although Stephen A. Douglas was physically a pipsqueak—standing only 5-foot-4, small even for his generation—he loomed over American political life through his intensity, intelligence, and energy. Unfortunately for his historical reputation, he clashed with another Illinois man—a tall, homely, and ungainly fellow named Abraham Lincoln, who well over a century ago was transmogrified into a secular god, beloved by conservatives and liberals alike.

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Reasonable Doubt

A closer look at the Sally Hemings saga.
Oct 29, 2012

Just how awful was Thomas Jefferson? In an academic and media culture that sometimes seems determined to trash all things that hint at the magnificence of America, pretty awful. Jefferson, the brilliant Founder and chief author of the Declaration of Independence, that essential document of the dignity of the individual in defiance of the bullying state, has been found guilty of being the ultimate cad and hypocrite.

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Tough Love

In colonial New England, the ideal was not freedom but conformity.
May 21, 2012

Many of the Founders revered their Puritan ancestors, who had braved the deadly Atlantic, endured bitter winters, and fended off Indian attacks and starvation to establish a new society in New England, free from the oppression of the British crown. When it came time to fight the slide toward tyranny under George III, those who supported the revolution drew strength from their ancestors’ courageous insistence on a measure of self-government.

But a book like The Devil Made Me Do It! makes you wonder if

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Diamond Mythology

No, baseball was not invented by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown.
Sep 05, 2011

We human beings seem to crave creation myths. The tale of Adam and Eve moved people for millennia, and still seems thrilling and sad, even though we know all about natural selection. And we still talk, however jokingly, about Abner Doubleday as the inventor of baseball.

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Founding Partners

The Adams love affair, in word and deed.
Jul 04, 2011

 

First Family

Abigail and John Adams

by Joseph J. Ellis

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Fight for Freedom

The American Revolution for beginners.
Mar 28, 2011