Welcome to America Comes Alive!, a site I created to share little-known stories of America’s past. These stories are about Americans—people just like you—who have made a difference and changed the course of history. Look around the site and find what inspires you.

Gold Rush Dogs Traveled via Shipboard

Dogs were very much a part of the California gold rush.   While it is Gold Rush dogeasy to see how dogs would be brought along by hopeful miners traveling west on horseback or by prairie schooner, dogs were also brought on board the ships that were sailing from the eastern seaboard to San Francisco via Cape Horn. This route took five to eight months, a very long time for both people and dogs to be at sea.

Here are two first-person accounts of separate shipboard trips, both of which happened to include Newfoundland dogs:

Rover to the Gold Rush

Fanny Foley, the daughter of the medical officer on board the ship, The Wildfire, wrote a book about her experiences.  In Romance of the Ocean: A Narrative of the Voyage of the Wildfire to California (1850), Foley wrote of her observations of Captain Black’s dog, Rover: Continue reading

The Clinton Pets, Buddy and Socks

Buddy and Clinton
Bill Clinton grew up with dogs, so it was only natural that at some point the Clintons… ... Continue reading »

Roosevelt Dog, Blaze, Makes News

Like Roosevelt dog
Blaze, a 130-lb. English bullmastiff that Colonel Elliott Roosevelt (1910-1990) acquired in Europe during World War… ... Continue reading »

Dog Jack, Mascot and Volunteer for the Union

Dog Jack, Mascot
Jack, a young mastiff, was to become one of the best-known mascots of the Civil War… ... Continue reading »

The Carter Family and Amy’s Dog, Grits

Amy and Grits
Amy Carter was age 9 when the Carter family moved into the White House. The family… ... Continue reading »

Sandy, the Canine Star of Broadway’s Little Orphan Annie

Broadway Tails book
The story of how the first dog who played Sandy in Annie is as dramatic and… ... Continue reading »

Little Orphan Annie, The Comic Strip

Annie first strip
The comic strip, Little Orphan Annie, was created by a young cartoonist by the name of… ... Continue reading »


Part of the inspiration for this site comes from a remark made by Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams (1860-1935):

"People do not want to hear about simple things. They want to hear about great things—simply told."

This Day in History

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Medicare bill into law.  At the bill-signing ceremony, former President Harry S. Truman was enrolled as Medicare’s first beneficiary in acknowledgment that he was the first president to propose national health insurance (1945).

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