In King Tut’s Shadow: The Story of Theodore Davis

In a single stroke, Davis and his legacy were all but buried. What was it like to discover an ancient Egyptian tomb? If the breathless records from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are to be believed, it was an experience almost too marvelous to be grasped. Having cleared a portal back through the[…]

The Unexpected Legacy of George Washington

It is as an entrepreneur that Washington serves best to inspire Americans in the twenty-first century. By Dr. Edward G. Lengel / 02.14.2016 Director of the Papers of George Washington University of Virginia Presidential candidates love to invoke George Washington. His example inspires politicians of all persuasions; even zealots profess to seek his guidance. The[…]

Memories of Fear in the Early French Revolution

“Be afraid. Be very afraid.” “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” These words could have been reasonably spoken at almost any time during the French Revolution, as actual and imagined threats seemed both constant and ubiquitous.[1] This was certainly true of the days surrounding the storming of the Bastille. In the evening of Sunday, July 12, 1789,[…]

Counterfeiting in 18th-Century France: Political Rhetoric and Social Realities

Dealing in false coinage was said to undermine the king’s prerogative to issue currency, illegally reproduce his image, and threaten the economic viability of the state. Introduction In a monarchy that was theoretically absolute, an attack on the king was the most heinous of crimes, and was accordingly punished with the most final of sentences. Lèse-majesté was[…]

Polybius and the Origins of the Separation of Powers

The origin of the idea that liberty could be preserved through the separation of powers endures through the arguments of Polybius. By Paul MeanyStudent of Ancient and Medieval HistoryTrinity College Dublin Introduction Any American high schooler can tell you that the separation of powers is one of the defining features of American government. The division[…]

The Rise of the Ancient Greek Polis (City-State)

Greek city-states developed different forms of governance with very different political structures and strengths. The Emergence of the Polis The territory of Greece is mountainous; as a result, ancient Greece consisted of many smaller regions, each with its own dialect, cultural peculiarities, and identity. Regionalism and regional conflicts were a prominent feature of ancient Greece.[…]