Plus: Air Force One and the Romanov family |

July 19, 2018

By Lily Rothman

This Wednesday marked 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela, an anniversary that provided a chance for the world to reflect on a man whose name has become synonymous with freedom (even though he was on U.S. terrorist watch lists until 2008). As part of the centennial celebration, former President Barack Obama delivered a major speech in Johannesburg. For that occasion, we took a look at the long relationship between South Africa and the United States when it comes to the fight for racial justice. You can click here to read more about the decades of history that came before Obama’s speech.

Here’s more of the history that made news this week:

Here's Why Air Force One Looks the Way It Does

The design of Air Force One has not been changed since 1962—but President Trump wants to change the iconic colors chosen by the Kennedy administration

It's Time to Focus on the Truth About the Romanovs

"The Russian people and others fascinated by this history long for an end to the doubt, to the bogus claims of fraudsters and the proliferation of conspiracy theories"

Why So Many Civil War Memorials Look Almost Exactly the Same

Find out in this clip from '10 That Changed America'

The 'Special Relationship' Is Unlike Any Other Alliance

Here's how the relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. got that way

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Was a Turning Point for Gay Rights

It's been 25 years since Bill Clinton announced "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which was later repealed by the Obama administration. Here's what has changed since then, and what hasn't


July 19, 1999

Today in 1999: World Cup Victory

“'We've already won,' declared Hank Steinbrecher, the general secretary of U.S. Soccer, even before the American women's team's draining, dramatic penalty-kick shoot-out win over China on Saturday, ‘no matter what the score is going to be.’ But when defender Brandi Chastain blasted the team's fifth penalty kick past Chinese goalkeeper Gao Hong after 120 scoreless minutes, including two overtime periods, the American put a fitting exclamation point on a summer of soccer that had swept the nation off its feet.” (July 19, 1999)

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July 19, 2010

Today in 2010: The Only Child

“Meanwhile, friends and relatives—not to mention supermarket cashiers, pastors and, I've found, strangers on the subway—continue to urge parents of only children to have another baby. There are certain time-honored reasons for having that baby: in many countries and communities, the mandate to be fruitful and multiply is a powerful religious directive. And family size can be dictated by biology as much as by psychology. But the entrenched aversion to stopping at one mainly amounts to a century-old public-relations issue. Single children are perceived as spoiled, selfish, solitary misfits. No parents want that for their kid. Since the 1970s, however, studies devoted to understanding the personality characteristics of only children have debunked that idea." (July 19, 2010)

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July 19, 1948

70 Years Ago: Howard Hughes

“Hollywood had known something of the meteoric Howard Hughes story for two decades. He had always been an independent—a lone wolf, unpredictable and exasperatingly successful most of the time. Now he had stepped into control of a top studio. After trying (characteristically) to get the stock for two points less than the market, he had paid Atlas Corp.'s Floyd B. Odium a whacking $8,825,690 for 929,020 shares. What did Hughes, the lone wolf, want with RKO? He takes great pains to hide his motives; but no doubt one motive was his hankering for theater outlets controlled by himself. RKO owns 124 theaters. Hughes has had great trouble distributing The Outlaw—that long and vigorously publicized mixture of sex, slapstick and violence—mainly because of censorship, but partly because independent exhibitors were simply afraid of it.” (July 19, 1948)

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Drink Up The BBC History Magazine’s History Extra website pulls together eight fascinating facts from coffee history, including how it got a reputation for sinfulness.

Buried Truth The New York Times’ Sarah Mervosh reports on a disturbing find in Texas: what is believed to be the remains of nearly 100 African-Americans forced into labor in the years after the Civil War.

Summit Scenario After historian Michael Kimmage took an optimistic look ahead at the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, Christopher Shea at Vox interviewed him post-summit about how the reality compared to his expectations.

Wild West Colorado is reimagining how it will go about presenting its official version of state history, but not without some controversy. At Westword, Patricia Calhoun has an overview of the debate.

Underground History Angi Gonzalez's segment on New York City’s cable channel New York 1 follows a local historian on a subway-based tour of the bureau of Queens.

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