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"I Must Of Course Have Something Of My Own Before Many More Years Have Passed Over My Head": Sally Rice Leaves the Farm


From the rocky soil of Vermont's hill towns, many young men and women in the 19th century went looking for new opportunities. Often they made a series of moves between farm, factory, and city. Their leave-taking pitted the responsibilities of maintaining family farms against the new attractions of financial and social independence. Sally Rice, born in 1821 in Dover, Vermont, was typical. In... Read More »

9 Thermidor: The Conspiracy against Robespierre


This account of the proceedings in the Convention Hall on the 9 Thermidor Year II (27 July 1794) describes how Robespierre and Saint–Just, facing an organized attack by other members of the Committee of Public Safety, tried one last gamble, appealing to the deputies of the "Right" to come to their aid. These deputies repudiated the appeal, and the Convention unanimously voted for the... Read More »

A British Observer of the September Massacres


A British diplomat in Paris here describes, in dispatches back to London, the goings–on in Paris in early September, in light of news of advances by the Duke of Brunswick’s Prussian forces toward the capital. This diplomat was naturally most concerned with reporting the readiness of the Parisians to resist the British, which is evident in his focus on the National Assembly’s call to arms and... Read More »

A Conqueror of the Bastille Speaks


Having assembled at the traditional protest place in front of the City Hall, known as place des grèves (meaning sandbar, which it was, but which has come to mean "strike"), the crowd set off in search of ammunition. Eventually arriving at the Bastille, the crowd demanded that the few guardians of the fortress surrender. One participant, Keversau, here describes in heroic terms the event that... Read More »

A Defender of the Bastille Explains His Role


The soldiers stationed at the fortress did not see themselves as resisting the Revolution so much as keeping watch on a rather insignificant outpost that had nothing at all to do with the major events transpiring in Versailles. In this passage, a Swiss officer named Louis de Flue describes how his contingent was overrun and how he was brought back to the City Hall where, to his surprise, he... Read More »

A Deputation of Women Citizens Demands Action on Food Prices (24 February 1793)


In the rioting over prices of February 1793, women appealed first to the authorities, showing that they intended to communicate directly with their representatives in the municipal government of Paris. By explicitly referring to themselves as "citizens," these women publicly claimed their right to be heard.

A Mother's Experience in Bulgaria


The ethnic Turks living in Bulgaria had faced discrimination throughout Bulgaria's history. In May 1989, throughout the Turkish areas of Bulgaria, there were a series of peaceful demonstrations staged by the Turkish minority; in some cases, entire villages joined the protests. They protested for the rights to have their Turkish names restored, or to be able to receive an education free from... Read More »

Title page of A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture A Native of Africa, but Resident Above Sixty Years in the United States of America Related by Himself

A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture A Native of Africa


In this excerpted source, Venture Smith recalls his experiences in the slave trade as a child. This source is especially important, as Smith gives a very vivid account of slave raiding, a common practice that took place during the peak years of the slave trade in the 18th century. Smith, the son of a Guinean Prince, was sold into slavery at the young age of three by his own mother. Unable to... Read More »

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A Rover Scout "Journey"


Rover scouting was a branch of the movement for young men in their late teens and early twenties who were too old for regular scout troops but wished to maintain their ties to scouting. It stressed service and leadership while offering a measure of vocational training. South Africa was the only English-speaking African territory in the colonial era to support African rover "crews."... Read More »

A Yugoslav Ambassador reports on the current situation in Romania


As the government of Nicolae Ceauşescu in Romania began to collapse in a wave of strikes and riots, Moscow looked on with growing concern. Shortly before Christmas 1989, the Soviet Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs met with the Yugoslav ambassador to the Soviet Union to discuss the situation. The ambassador described how an attempt by local police to evict the popular priest and regime critic... Read More »