Toni McDaniel

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Washington and Lincoln were great presidents. But only one was a great poet.

When it comes to ranking the presidents, there are only two contenders for the top spot: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. They had a few things in common: Both lost a parent as a child, both had a serious demeanor, and both dabbled with writing poetry.<p>But only one was any good at …

Literature

A rare copy of the Declaration of Independence survived the Civil War hidden behind wallpaper. Later it was tossed in a box.

During the Civil War, the precious document was hidden behind wallpaper in a home in Virginia to keep Union soldiers from finding it.<p>Later, it sat in a closet in Kentucky, in a broken frame, unappreciated and stored in a cardboard box.<p>And later still it was stuck behind a cabinet in the office of …

War

Germans Quietly Pass an Equinox of Unity, but the Walls Remain

BERLIN — Durs Grünbein was conceived two months after the Berlin Wall was built, in the cold winter of 1961. He spent half his life behind the wall, or, as he prefers to put it: “I spent one life as a hostage and another life free.”<p>Last week, the barrier that once divided Berlin, Germany and the …

Germany

Poland’s ‘Death Camp’ Law Tears at Shared Bonds of Suffering With Jews

OSWIECIM, Poland — When the Nazis looked to build Auschwitz, the most notorious death camp of the Holocaust, they chose this out-of the-way village that had been home to a Polish Army barracks.<p>Unlike in France or Norway, there was no collaborationist government in Poland. The Nazis wanted to …

World History

A State of the Union delivered by the president in person? Congress was agog.

When President Trump steps into the well of the House on Tuesday to give his first formal State of the Union address, he will be performing one of the most familiar presidential rituals.<p>But for nearly half the nation’s history, the idea of a president personally delivering a speech on Congress’s …

Political History

Indian Slavery Once Thrived in New Mexico. Latinos Are Finding Family Ties to It.

ALBUQUERQUE — Lenny Trujillo made a startling discovery when he began researching his descent from one of New Mexico’s pioneering Hispanic families: One of his ancestors was a slave.<p>“I didn’t know about New Mexico’s slave trade, so I was just stunned,” said Mr. Trujillo, 66, a retired postal worker …

Israel and Poland try to tamp down tensions after Poland’s ‘death camp’ law sparks Israeli outrage

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke by phone Sunday and agreed to open a dialogue to avoid further diplomatic fallout following Poland’s initial approval of a law making it a criminal offense to mention Polish complicity in crimes …

Israel

France’s epic Bayeux Tapestry is headed to Britain, in a loan for the ages

LONDON — It is probably the most famous piece of medieval embroidery in the world, a ribbon of scrolling tapestry 70 yards long that tells in pictures the story of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, an epic tale of gore, glory and God.<p>There is nothing quite like the Bayeux Tapestry, a …

History

The classic explanation for the Black Death plague is wrong, scientists say

Plague came to Europe in the 14th century and rapidly conquered the continent. The pandemic, one of the worst in human history, killed tens of millions. Up to 60 percent of the population succumbed to the bacteria called <i>Yersinia pestis</i> during outbreaks that recurred for 500 years. The most famous …

Environmental Health

Secret Tunnel in Berlin Is an Echo From the Cold War

BERLIN — “It was a very touching moment. It brought back memories of a time when as a young man I had sworn to fight the wall.”<p>Those were the words of Carl-Wolfgang Holzapfel, a 73-year-old retiree who says that he helped dig a tunnel under the Berlin Wall in the 1960s.<p>The entrance to the tunnel, a …

Germany

Scanning an Ancient Biblical Text That Humans Fear to Open

In a basement laboratory of the Morgan Library and Museum in New York, an X-ray scanner is pumping invisible beams into a clump of charred parchment leaves that looks as delicate as a long dead flower.<p>The leaves are the remains of a severely scorched early book, or codex, which was written in …

Mockups

Unearthed in Rome’s New Subway: Extinct Elephants and Persian Peach Pits

ROME — The ancient Romans were celebrated for their engineering feats: roads that helped expand an empire; aqueducts that quenched throngs and supplied lavish fountains; monumental bridges, some of which are still in use today.<p>So it seems apt that a modern engineering achievement — the construction …

Archaeology

Where's Santa Buried? Resting Places of the Real St. Nick

The mortal remains of the 4th-century Greek bishop are likely scattered around the world as holy relics.<p>This story was updated on December 6, 2017.<p>The story of how St. Nicholas became the red-suited chimney hopper we know as Santa is fascinating in its own right. But the final chapter of the holy …

An archaeological dig unearths one of the earliest slave remains in Delaware

The blow to the head of the man in grave 10 was so severe that it chipped off a bone near his right eyebrow, fractured part of his face, and probably helped to kill him.<p>He was about 35 years old and likely a slave. He had grooves in his front teeth where he had clenched his clay pipe as he worked, …

Archaeology

Humans didn't outsmart the Neanderthals. We just outlasted them.

By the standards of the Paleolithic age, members of <i>Homo neanderthalensis</i> were the height of sophistication. These ancient hominins ranged across Europe and parts of Asia for more than 300,000 years, producing tools, jewelry and impressive cave creations. They cared for their sick and elderly. They …

Humanity

Experts have uncovered remains at the first permanent English colony. But whose bones are they?

JAMESTOWN, Va. — The ancient thigh bone was that of a robust man, a chap in his 40s, with wear and tear in his joints and a hip socket that showed he had been a horseman and a man of status.<p>Could these be the remains of the long-lost lord — the savior of the English colony here, the aristocrat who …

Archaeology

Santa Claus's tomb may have been uncovered beneath Turkish church

Archaeologists say they have found almost fully intact temple and burial grounds of Saint Nicholas in Antalya<p>Turkish archaeologists have dashed the hopes of millions of children by claiming to have uncovered the likely burial place of Saint Nicholas.<p>Surveys have uncovered an intact temple and …

Archaeology

Who betrayed Anne Frank? Artificial intelligence could finally solve the mystery.

For nearly 75 years, some of the greatest investigative minds have tried to figure out who tipped off the Nazis about Anne Frank and the seven other Jews who were hiding behind a movable bookcase in Amsterdam.<p>Now, a former FBI investigator working with a production company hopes the decades-old …

Artificial Intelligence

Museum Visitors Damage 800-Year-Old Coffin by Putting Child in It for Photo

The grounds of Prittlewell Priory, a museum and park in Southend-on-Sea in Britain, about 40 miles east of London, feature gardens, buildings and exhibits depicting what life was like there centuries ago.<p>In online reviews, visitors praised the site for being attractive and inviting.<p>For one family, …

Museums

Just a few more bongs for Big Ben before London bell is silenced for four years

LONDON — So it has come to pass that the Keeper of the Great Clock announced Monday that London’s Big Ben hour bell will be silenced for four long years as desperately needed repairs are carried out on the 158-year-old timepiece, a masterwork of Victorian ingenuity and an enduring British …

England

The Remains of the Romanovs

On July 17, 1918, as the White Army advanced toward Red-held territory around Yekaterinburg in Siberia, 12 armed Bolsheviks ushered a group of 11 exiles into a basement of a merchant’s mansion once known as Ipatiev House, now the House of Special Purpose. The youngest in the party, a sickly …

Russia

Some thought NPR tweeted ‘propaganda.’ It was the Declaration of Independence

For about 20 minutes Tuesday, NPR traveled back to 1776.<p>To echo its 29-year on-air tradition, the public radio network’s main Twitter account tweeted …

Social Media

Discovered: Philadelphia’s high-tech, totally natural plumbing of 1812

Philadelphia was little more than a decade removed from serving as the nation’s capital when a work gang on Spruce Street began installing the latest in 1812 sanitation technology: a water main made of hollow tree trunks.<p>The sections of 10-foot pine logs, laboriously drilled to create a 4- to …

Vietnam War

Some Trump supporters thought NPR tweeted ‘propaganda.’ It was the Declaration of Independence.

For about 20 minutes Tuesday, NPR traveled back to 1776.<p>To echo its 29-year on-air tradition, <b></b>the public radio network’s main Twitter account tweeted out the Declaration of Independence, line by line.<p>There — in 113 consecutive posts, in 140-character increments — was the text of the treasured …

United Kingdom

Why Roman concrete still stands strong while modern version decays

Scientists have cracked the secret to Roman water-based structures’ strength – and findings could help today’s builders<p>Their structures are still standing more than 1,500 years after the last centurion snuffed it: now the Romans’ secret of durable marine concrete has finally been cracked.<p>The Roman …

Engineering

'Lenin on the Train,' chugging toward history

A new book tracks the future Russian leader on his road to revolution.<p>April 5, 2017 —Back in 1917, German officials figured a man named Vladimir …

Russia