In “A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico,” Amy S. Greenberg describes James K. Polk as an “instrument of Manifest Destiny.” Described as a mere “instrument,” Greenberg’s characterization of Polk is likely an understatement as the young president “extended the domain of the United States more than any other president.”[i] Due to his expansion of the United States as a result of the Mexican-American War and his Oregon settlement, Polk must be inextricable linked to Manifest Destiny. In fact, Polk’s 1845 Inaugural Address foreshadows the political philosophy that spread the United States across a continent.
Throughout time, it has been common for soldiers deployed to war zones to write a letter to loved ones in the event they are killed in combat. Deployed to the Western Front in World War I, this practice was followed by Winston Churchill in the aftermath of his resignation from the Admiralty.
President Thomas Jefferson’s June 20, 1803 instructions to Meriwether Lewis ranks among the most famous instructions given to an explorer in American history. Not only do Jefferson’s instructions showcase the personal interests of the third president of the United States, they demonstrate the national purpose of the Corps of Discovery. Significantly, Jefferson’s instructions also serve as a model for subsequent explorations of the American West.
A century and a half ago, nearly 200,000 men stood before each other with arms ready at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Over the next three days, one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War would unfold south of the city as Little Round Top and Pickett’s Charge became immortalized in American history. By the end of the battle, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Norther Virginia retreated south while nearly 8,000 men lay dead on the fields of battle.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the United States Navy will be abandoning the requirement that official naval messages be sent in ALLCAPS. This announcement ended a tradition dating back to the 19th century that was required because early machinery only had ALLCAPS keyboards.
Since the dawn of radio communications, countless naval communications have utilized this standard. From the famous transmission to Admiral Bull Halsey asking “WHERE IS REPEAT WHERE IS TASK FORCE 34? THE WORLD WONDERS” to the actual directive ending the ALLCAPS requirement, United States naval history is full of notable examples of a now defunct standard.
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