Vol.14 No.3


Intelligent, Inspirational & Fun!
America Was Always Great

a few of hundreds of awesome examples

Great Moments in American History


History is made through the

actions of men and women. In

studying the past, it is the

historian’s job to avoid the provincialism

of the present by understanding that

events might have developed differently

if people had made different choices at

certain pivotal moments. Nothing is

inevitable. At the same time, history

provides examples of great courage and

virtue on the part of men and women.

Though such actions may not have

altered the course of history in any direct

way, they have surely inspired those who

have heard of them. Below are such great

moments in American history, listed in

chronological order.

Robert Carter frees his slaves (1791)

Motivated by the egalitarianism of his

religious beliefs—a combination of

Baptist and Swedenborgian theology—

Robert Carter III of Virginia in 1791

quietly issued his “Deed of Gift,” which

provided for the gradual emancipation of

his 452 slaves. Carter took this dramatic

step at great personal cost. He alienated

his sons, whose inheritance was greatly

reduced, and angered many of his

neighbors, slaveholding and nonslaveholding

alike, by not only freeing so

many blacks at once but also by throwing

many of his white tenants off his land in

order to give the newly-freed slaves

property on which to make livings.

Though there were many smaller

individual emancipations in the United

States both before and after, the scale of

Carter’s act was without precedent.

Unlike others who sought secular

immortality in everlasting fame among

later generations, Carter wanted to be

forgotten. He mandated that his grave be

unmarked (it remains so), and his great

act of emancipation was unaccompanied

by the sort of flowery rhetoric meant to

preserve his name to posterity.

Andrew Carnegie gives away his

fortune (1901) ­ Born in 1835 to a

working-class family in Scotland, Andrew

Carnegie came to the United States when

he was thirteen years old. Settling in the

Pittsburgh area, he worked first in a

cotton mill and then as a telegraph

operator for a railroad company. After the

Civil War, Carnegie entered the iron and

steel industries, where he made his

fortune. In 1901, he sold his business

interests to J.P Morgan for some $500

million and proceeded to begin giving

away most of his fortune through

philanthropic efforts.

“Man must have no idol and the

amassing of wealth is one of the worst

species of idolatry,” Carnegie opined early

in his career as an

industrialist. “No idol

is more debasing than

the worship of

money!” An avid

reader, Carnegie

funded the creation of

more than 2,800 public

libraries and many

schools. As he wrote in

a memo: It is the mind

that makes the body

rich. There is no class so pitiably

wretched as that which possesses money

and nothing else. Money can only be the

useful drudge of things immeasurably

higher than itself. Exalted beyond this, as

it sometimes is, it remains Caliban still

and still plays the beast. My aspirations

take a higher flight. Mine be it to have

contributed to the enlightenment and the

joys of the mind, to the things of the

spirit, to all that tends to bring into the

lives of the toilers of Pittsburgh

sweetness and light. I hold this the

noblest possible use of wealth.

Carnegie also funded hospitals,

scientific endeavors, museums, music

halls, and efforts to resolve international

conflicts, in addition to many other

projects. In his book, The Gospel of

Wealth and Other Timely Essays (1901),

he acknowledged the importance of the

concentration of wealth in advancing the

good of society, but he pointedly urged

his wealthy peers to limit their wealth

and to give their excess to building of

community and the helping of the poor:

“The man who dies thus rich dies

disgraced.” By the end of his life, Andrew

Carnegie had given away ninety percent

of his fortune (about $350 million) and

had set an example for other wealthy

philanthropists to follow.

Jesse Owens shows up Hitler at the

Olympics (1936) ­ The city of Berlin was

the site of the 1936 Olympics, and

German leader Adolf Hitler hoped to

showcase the supposed superiority of the

Aryan race by having his athletes win as

many medals as possible. But he was

disappointed by the outstanding

performance of African-American athlete

Jesse Owens, who took home four gold

medals in trackand-field

for the



feat certainly


Hitler and


American pride.

James Watson

(b. 1928) ­ The

American born James Watson was

obsessed with bird-watching in his

childhood. In 1947, at the age of 15 he

graduated from the University of Chicago.

He received his Ph.D. in Zoology from

Indiana University in 1950. Then he

joined Cavendish laboratories where he

worked together with Francis Crick to

ascertain DNA structure.

In 1953, when they created the model

of DNA double helix, it was regarded as

an enormous achievement in fields of

molecular genetics and biochemistry. For

their work Crick, Watson, and Maurice

Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in

1962. Before becoming director of Cold

Spring Harbor Laboratory New York in

1968, Watson taught at Harvard and

CalTech. In 1988, as an

acknowledgement of his scientific glory

and his administrative capabilities, he

was appointed appointment as the head

of the Human Genome Project at the NIH.

John F. Kennedy challenges America to

land on the moon (1961)

When John F. Kennedy assumed the

presidency in 1961, the American people

had begun to fear that the Soviet Union

was surpassing the United States in the

all-important “space race.” In 1957, the


More magazines by this user
Similar magazines