This Week in History

The “Second Coming in Wrath” at Hiroshima: August 6, 1945

This text comes from our high school text, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. Please visit our webpage to peruse sample chapters of our book. For ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here.

Albert Einstein (left) with J. Robert Oppenheimer

When Harry Truman became president following Roosevelt’s death, he learned for the first time that the United States had been working on a new, secret weapon. Among the refugees from Europe were a number of physicists, including the German Jew Albert Einstein, the Italian Enrico Fermi, and the Hungarian Leó Szilárd. These physicists had warned President Roosevelt that German scientists were working on the concept of uranium fission to produce a bomb that could wipe out large sections of cities. To beat the Germans, the United States commenced the Manhattan Project. In centers throughout the country, this top-secret project worked to master the splitting of the atom. On December 2, 1942, Fermi and other physicists had produced the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. By 1944, J. Robert Oppenheimer, at the laboratories at Los Alamos, New Mexico, had developed the first atomic bomb. On July 19, 1945, this atomic bomb was successfully exploded at Los Alamos. The United States now possessed a weapon that the broken but desperate might of Japan could not withstand. In a message to Churchill, Truman declared, “this is the Second Coming in wrath.” (more…)

This Week in History

The Fall of Robespierre: 9th Thermidor (July 27) 1794

This text comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. See sample chapters, here. For ordering information on Light to the Nations II and our other texts, please click here

A satirical drawing depicting Maximilien Robespierre guillotining the executioner after he had killed of everyone else in France

The Terror now entered its darkest phase. Prisons in Paris began to overflow with thousands of accused persons. Executions increased. In the year from the beginning of the Reign of Terror to the passage of the Law of the 22nd Prairial, Paris had seen 1,256 executions; but in the six weeks following the passage of the law, 1,361 died under the guillotine. A steady stream of victims, men as well as women, patriots as well as traitors, climbed the scaffold. Among them was André Chenier, the poet who had composed the hymn to Robespierre’s god.

Among those who met their deaths during this period were the Carmelite nuns of Compiègne. Since September 1792, when the National Assembly had forced them to leave their monastery and abandon their habits, they had continued to live their religious life in small groups, near to a chapel where they heard Mass. But in June 1794, they were arrested for plotting against the republic and taken to Paris. During their trial before the Revolutionary Tribunal, the prosecuting attorney accused the nuns of being fanatics on account of their “attachment to childish beliefs” and “silly religious practices.” Without an attorney to defend them, the sisters were condemned as “enemies of the people by conspiring against its sovereign will.” They were 16 in number—ten professed nuns, one novice, three lay sisters, and two servants. (more…)

CTP Engages Catholic Educators in PA

CatholiMVH at Cath Ed Conf in PA-2016c Textbook Project Founder and President Michael Van Hecke, M.Ed. (left) and General Editor Christopher Zehnder (below) deliver talks to Catholic educators at two different Catholic education conferences held in (more…)


Michael Van Hecke, M.Ed., Founder and President of the Catholic Textbook Project, and Christopher Zehnder, the publisher’s General Editor, will be featured speakers at two prominent East Coast conferences on Catholic education. 

On Wednesday, July 20, 2016, (more…)

This Week in History

Bismarck Goads France into War:

July 19, 1870

This text comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. See sample chapters, here. For ordering information on Light to the Nations II and our other texts, please click here. Further down, you may read the post of which this story is a continuation.

Otto von Bismarck in 1870

The Seven Weeks’ War had made Bismarck a hero in Prussia. Even the Liberals in the Landtag had changed their opinion of him. At the request of King Wilhelm I, they enthusiastically declared that everything Bismarck had done against the Prussian constitution had been legal. Many of the Liberals even discovered that they cared more about Prussian glory than Liberalism. They formed a new National Liberal Party that would in coming years work closely with Bismarck.

Bismarck, however, was not content with these past glories. He wanted to bring the southern German states into a union with Prussia and the northern confederation, but he knew that great obstacles stood in his way. The southern Germans distrusted and disliked Prussia, for various reasons. Some wanted to keep their local independence, and the Liberals among them thought Prussia’s government too oppressive. Most of Germany’s Catholics lived in the south, and they feared living under a Protestant power. They remembered that Prussia had imprisoned Catholic bishops who dared to stand up in support of the Church’s marriage laws.

Bismarck thought that it could be many years before the southern German states would consent to unite under Prussia. He was certain, however, that a war—a patriotic war—could overcome southern German reluctance and unite those states quickly to Prussia. It was just such a war that Bismarck was planning—a war against Germany’s “ancient foe,” France. (more…)