A Grizzly in the Mail and Other Adventures in American History
For more than twenty years, Tim Grove has worked at the most popular history museums in the United States, helping millions of people get acquainted with the past. This book translates that experience into an insider’s tour of some of the most interesting moments in American history. Grove’s stories are populated with well-known historical figures such as John Brown, Charles Lindbergh, Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and Sacagawea—as well as the not-so-famous. Have you heard of Mary Pickersgill, seamstress of the Star-Spangled Banner flag? Grove also has something to say about a few of our cherished myths, for instance, the lore surrounding Betsy Ross and Eli Whitney.
Grove takes readers to historic sites such as Harpers Ferry, Fort McHenry, the Ulm Pishkun buffalo jump, and the Lemhi Pass on the Lewis and Clark Trail and traverses time and space from eighteenth-century Williamsburg to the twenty-first-century Kennedy Space Center. En route from Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic to Cape Disappointment on the Pacific, we learn about planting a cotton patch on the National Mall, riding a high wheel bicycle, flying the transcontinental airmail route, and harnessing a mule. Is history relevant? This book answers with a resounding yes and, in the most entertaining fashion, shows us why.
them related to the expedition is one written from Fort Mandan during the first winter of the expedition. Lewis tells his mother about the challenges of navigating the Missouri, of the friendly Mandan neighbors, and of the scenery. Sadly, though he must have written a triumphant letter to his mother upon his return to St. Louis at the end of the expedition, no letter survives. A letter he wrote to President Jefferson on the day he arrived ends with a personal note: “I am very anxious to learn the
hoof pieces, and small porous bones used as a paint brush. Unfortunately we weren’t able to find a buffalo rib sled, popular with Plains Indian children. I used the buffalo box in the Hands On History Room and later in St. Louis with the Lewis and Clark exhibition, and it proved to be an educational treasure box that never ceased to enthrall visitors. The boxes were produced by the Intertribal Bison Cooperative and supported their educational interests. Buffalo at the Castle Many people don’t
and Roosevelt may have shared the same amount of enthusiasm, but that’s where the comparison ends. “It was an event for which every Sioux boy eagerly waited. To ride side by side with the best hunters of the tribe, to hear the terrible noise of the great herds as they ran, and then to help bring home the kill was the most thrilling day of any Indian boy’s life.” He described the hunt: “The herd was now running and had raised a cloud of dust. I felt no fear until we had entered this cloud of dust
took place on July 6, 1863, in Philadelphia’s National Hall. Over five thousand people had gathered that day to hear powerful speeches and stirring music. Our event was no different, minus a few thousand in the audience. I donned nineteenth-century attire and stood out on the sidewalk with a sign to recruit an audience. The reenactors who portray the valiant men of the 54th Massachusetts, made famous in the movie Glory, are based in the Washington DC area and agreed to participate. Held in the
Lewis and Clark journal quotations is Bernard DeVoto, ed., The Journals of Lewis and Clark (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1981). In most cases I have used modern spellings for clarity. 11. You Can’t Write My History “writingest explorers of their time”: Donald Jackson, ed., Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978), vii. “When the dried meat”: Ella Clark, Indian Legends from the Northern Rockies (Norman OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1966), 130–31.