What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation

Encounters

The American Revolution Story Has a Hole the Size of Spain

While the Marquis de LaFayette Gets a Share of the Glory, Names Like Gardoqui and Gálvez Are All But Forgotten

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By Larrie D. Ferreiro

Americans like to think of our nation as exceptional in nature, a dramatic break from all that came before it. Being exceptional, it’s inconvenient to acknowledge that two European powers provided invaluable assistance in our struggle for independence from Britain. So we usually don’t. The American origin story thus has scrappy colonists fighting the British alone, with little outside help except for France’s Lafayette, and a cameo by General Rochambeau at the very end. But Americans could have never won

Artifacts

Why Canoes Are the Quintessential Vehicle for Escape

From Postwar 'Canoedling' to Unplugging from Our Smart Phones, the Timeless Boat Takes Us Back to Simpler Days

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By Mark Neuzil

A canoe is like a banjo—it makes everyone happy. Propelled with paddles, sleek, long, narrow, lightweight—mostly open—and fast: Every canoe I’ve owned makes me smile at its memory. I remember my oldest daughter, at age 10, mimicking the cry of a loon, and the loon crying back, while on a Boundary Waters trip. Or that one big fish that one time in that one hole whose location I’m never going to disclose because then it won’t be my memory alone.