The Know Nothing Party: Nativist Paranoia in the Mid-19th Century

When a party member was asked about its activities, he was supposed to reply, “I know nothing.” Introduction The Know Nothing movement was a nativist American political movement of the 1850s. It grew up as a popular reaction to fears that major cities were being overwhelmed by Irish Catholic immigrants whom they regarded as hostile[…]

26 Hours in August: The Burning of Washington in 1814

Fuel was added to the fires that night to ensure they would continue burning into the next day. Introduction The Burning of Washington is the name given to the burning of Washington, D.C., by British forces in 1814, during the War of 1812. Strict discipline and the British commander’s orders to burn only public buildings[…]

Mary Astell: Woman Philosopher Who Called Out Misogyny in the 17th Century

Astell recognized the ways in which background social structures explain behaviors. The English philosopher Mary Astell (1666-1731) was a woman ahead of her time. She anticipated discoveries in the social dimension of knowledge and explanation that you might have thought were made only in the 21st century. She also revealed the existence of a form[…]

Tracing 500 Years of Pregnancy Portraits, from the Tudors to Today

A new exhibition at the Foundling Museum in London traces 500 years pregnancy portraiture. A new exhibition at the Foundling Museum in London looks closely at 500 years of portraiture to explore how pregnancy was depicted — and not depicted — from the Tudors to today. Curator Karen Hearn has been thinking about this subject[…]

“Theire Soe Admirable Herbe”: How the English Found Cannabis

First encountered in the 17th century in the form of bhang, an intoxicating edible which had been getting Indians high for millennia. This article, “Theire Soe Admirable Herbe”: How the English Found Cannabis, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: In[…]

Wine Culture in the Ancient Hellenistic Mediterranean

Viticulture, that is, the cultivation of grapes and the preparation of wine, can actually be traced back long before the Hellenistic Age. Introduction The culture of drinking wine was enjoyed throughout the Mediterranean world, and what is true now was true in antiquity, too: wine is always good business. The Hellenistic Period (c. 335-30 BCE),[…]