At the time no one knew to call it World War One. In the mid-1910s it was widely termed the ‘Great War’ and later the ‘War To End All Wars,’ an especially ironic name given the role contemporary historians have argued WWI played in precipitating WWII. In fact the History Channel recently aired a three-part series treating the period from the mid-1910s through the mid-1940s as single era of warfare. This way of remembering World War I, as but a small part of a larger history, is common throughout the United States, although in sharp contrast to much of the rest of the English-speaking world.
I passed a wonderful late June week traveling the Hudson River Valley from the Vanderbilt estate in Hyde Park, New York, south along alternating banks of the Hudson to the Edward Hopper house and museum in Nyack. In addition to the 3rd generation Vanderbilts with their (inherited) railroad fortune, my husband and I explored the architectural and material legacy of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt, financial speculator Jay Gould, West Point, the Loyalist and slaveholding Philips family, 3 generations of Rockefellers, artist/inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, the writer Washington Irving, and artists Edward and Josephine N. Hopper.