GPO Holiday Gift Guide: Publications for the American History Buff

December 18, 2019

Holly jolly, so good to see you, our little elves! Welcome to our final installation of the 2019 GPO Gift Guide. Do you know someone who loves American history? We have the perfect gifts for them, so take a break from stuffing those stockings, and read on!

To be a true American History buff, you’ve got to know the story of Lewis and Clark! United States Army and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, prepared as part of the Army’s contribution to the observance of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration, is an engaging account of a stirring and significant event in American military heritage. While most Americans have some inkling of the importance of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, officially designated the “Corps of Volunteers for North Western Discovery,” relatively few recognize that it was an Army endeavor from beginning to end.

Blending their fine writing skills, authors David W. Hogan Jr. and Charles E. White tell the unvarnished story of Captain Meriwether Lewis’s and Captain William Clark’s military mission ordered by President Thomas Jefferson. Lewis and Clark, with twenty-seven other soldiers plus four civilians, two of whom were under contract with the War Department, carried out the president’s intent and trekked from the mouth of the Missouri River to the Pacific Coast and back. Hogan’s and White’s memorable study is evocative of the courage and discipline of the Army today.

Another must have for American History lovers? This pocket-sized booklet containing the complete text of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States. Now, the words of our Founding Fathers will be available right at your American past aficionado’s fingertips. This little booklet is the perfect size to fit in all those stockings you’ve been trying to fill. Toothbrushes and candy are classic stocking stuffers no doubt; add this little surprise in, and you’ll be almost as professional a gift giver as Santa Claus himself … almost, that is.

For someone who needs to dress up their room a little bit, this Philadelphia, 1776 poster offers detailed information about Philadelphia, including its intellectual awakening of the Enlightenment, its budding architecture, and its economic prosperity, during the Revolutionary War. And the poster Continental Soldier in the War for American Independence gives detailed information about how the infantry fought, who the army commanders were, and the nearly impossible conditions American soldiers endured. Plus, once wrapped, these tubular shaped gifts are such a fun addition to the present pile full of perfect boxes. See who can guess what it is before it’s opened!

Then, give your special recipient the gift of knowledge with Defending a New Nation, 1783–1811. This initial volume of the “U.S. Army Campaigns of the War of 1812” series published by the Department of Defense, the Department of the Army, and the Center of Military History describes how the American Army gradually rose to the top during the War of 1812. The booklet tells the story of several military campaigns against Indians in the Northwest Territory, the Army’s role in suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion (1794), the Quasi-War with France and confrontations with Spain, the influence of Jeffersonian politics on the Army’s structure, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Do you have additional gift ideas for someone who can’t get enough American history? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks so much for following our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide. Happy holidays from all of us here at GPO!

The GPO Online Bookstore – Easy Access to Federal Publications


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Visit our Retail Store: To buy or order a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up(s).

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About the author: Blogger contributor Cat Goergen is the PR Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations office.

America Versus Revolutionary France

December 17, 2010

When people ask me how I choose the books I blog about (actually, no one has asked me that, but it always pays to be prepared), I cite multiple sources of information, including in-house resources at GPO, my past experience with Government publications, and my personal and eclectic reading. For example, I recently read a book about America’s Quasi-War with revolutionary France from 1798 to 1800. Precipitated by French privateering attacks against neutral shipping during its war with England and exacerbated by the French view that the Jay Treaty between Great Britain and America was a violation of its 1778 treaty with the U.S., the fledgling American navy was authorized by Congress to attack any French vessel, including warships that molested American merchant shipping.

So what’s the connection with this blog? Naval Documents related to the Quasi-War between the United States and France, edited by Captain Dudley W. Knox, USN (Ret.) (left). This 7-volume set of official documents, published in the 1930s, is the starting point and standard source for any research on the Quasi-War and was duly acknowledged as such by the author of the book I read. Knox, who for many years was the Navy’s Officer in Charge of the Office of Naval Records and Library, also presided over the editing of other documentary compilations and was a noted writer on naval topics.

Perusing these ponderous volumes is challenging but rewarding. Included are accounts of the U.S. frigate Constellation’s battles with the French frigates L’Insurgente (top) and La Vengeance, the little-known landing of Marines on the Dutch island of Curacao, and much more. You can also find reports on the captains who led the fight (or sometimes failed) against the formidable forces of France and their often uneasy collaboration with France’s real enemy – the British.

It’s a tribute to the Navy that, at a time when such massive documentary series usually were not subsidized by universities or foundations, Knox and his staff were encouraged to research and preserve these early records of American military and diplomatic history. Today, it’s still a pleasure to plunge into another century and read about the Navy’s battles and the bureaucracy that kept them staffed and supplied at sea. Sets of Naval Documents related to the Quasi-War between the United States and France will set you back hundreds of dollars via the used and antiquarian book market, but they are available to browse here or in print at a library.


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