Grateful American Book Prize

September 16
September 30
2023

History Matters

Showing our children that their past
is prelude to their future

The British Pilgrims were not the first Europeans to settle in America. According to the Library of Congress, “when the London Company sent out its first expedition to begin colonizing Virginia on December 20, 1606, it was by no means the first European attempt to exploit North America. In 1564…French Protestants (Huguenots) built a colony near what is now Jacksonville, Florida. This intrusion did not go unnoticed by the Spanish, who had previously claimed the region…”

A year later–on September 20, 1565–Spanish forces ambushed the French near Jacksonville, FL; they–then–retreated to Quebec and Nova Scotia.

For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize suggests The French in Early Florida: In the Eye of the Hurricane by John T. Mcgrath.

Exploration of Florida by Ribault and Laudonniere, 1564, by Le Moyne de Morgues.


On September 24, 1789, Congress passed the Judiciary Act; President George Washington signed it, and the United States Supreme Court was “born.” According to History.com, “President Washington nominated John Jay [that day] to preside as chief justice, and John Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair, Robert Harrison and James Wilson to be associate justices.”

Two days later, the Senate confirmed their appointments.

As the History website put it, the Court “grew into the most important judicial body in the world in terms of its central place in the American political order. According to the Constitution, the size of the court is set by Congress, and the number of justices varied during the 19th century before stabilizing in 1869 at nine. This number, however, can be changed at any time by Congress. In times of constitutional crisis, the nation’s highest court has always played a definitive role in resolving, for better or worse, the great issues of the time.”

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends A People’s History of the Supreme Court: The Men and Women Whose Cases and Decisions Have Shaped Our Constitution by Peter Irons.

First photograph of the U.S. Supreme Court, by Alexander Gardner, 1867.


Wild Bill Hickok’s finesse with a firearm enabled his fame—and facilitated—his failure.

On September 27, 1869, Hickok–then sheriff of Ellis County, Kansas–confronted a rowdy throng in a Hays City saloon. A cowboy–Samuel Strawhun–tried to rush him, but Wild Bill drew his gun, and killed him.

“Such were Wild Bill’s less-than-restrained law enforcement methods. Famous for his skill with a pistol and steely calm under fire, James Butler Hickok initially seemed to be the ideal man for the sheriff of Ellis County, Kansas. The good citizens of Hays City, the county seat, were tired of the wild brawls and destructiveness of the hard-drinking buffalo hunters and soldiers who took over their town every night,” says History.com.

A few months after the Hays City shooting, Hickok lost his job–in the next sheriff election–to his deputy; 144-89.

The Grateful American Book Prize endorses Joseph G. Rosa’s biography, They Called Him Wild Bill: The Life and Adventures of James Butler Hickok.

Wild Bill Hickok


History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.

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