Remarkable Radical: Thaddeus Stevens, 1859-1868

Thaddeus Stevens was a fearsome reformer, who never backed down from a fight. In 1813, a young Thaddeus Stevens was attending a small college in Vermont. This was well before the time when good fences made good neighbors. Free-roaming cows often strayed onto campus. Manure piled up. Odors lingered. Resentment among students festered. One spring[…]

The Agitator: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolitionists

Garrison considered himself a pacifist, a believer in the power of truth to undo the wickedness of slavery without recourse to bloodshed. By James Williford On July 4, 1854, William Lloyd Garrison set fire to a copy of the U.S. Constitution. “A covenant with death,” he called it, “and an agreement with hell.” Holding the[…]

Burr versus Jefferson versus Marshall

The president accused his former vice president of treason and tussled with a Supreme Court justice. Mark Twain once quipped, “Truth is stranger than Fiction . . . because Fiction is obliged to stick to the possibilities; Truth isn’t.” Twain could well have been writing about the trial of Aaron Burr. The bare-bones facts surrounding[…]

Alfred the Great: Vikings, Vengeance, Victory

Alfred’s impressive military and administrative skills stabilized Britain after almost a century of Viking raids and warfare. Introduction Alfred the Great (r. 871-899 CE) was the king of Wessex in Britain but came to be known as King of the Anglo-Saxons after his military victories over Viking adversaries and later successful negotiations with them. He[…]

The Political Power of Pope in the Middle Ages

Even medievalists have a hard time determining the precise moment when the Middle Ages started and ended. There’s a relative consensus that it started with Augustine and lasted after the birth of Descartes. That would put us in a rough frame between the mid-fourth and the early seventeenth century. Yes; it means that the Middle[…]

What Made Ancient Sparta So Different from Other City-States

At school, we have all studied the amazing history of the two most important city-states in Greece, Athens and Sparta. Even after 2500 years, one of the most widely discussed war topics at academic institutions is the Peloponnesian War that broke out between the two. When I was given the task to write my assignment[…]

New Dinosaur Relative Was ‘King’ of Antarctica

The discovery of a new species related to dinosaurs, an iguana-sized reptile whose genus name, Antarctanax, means “Antarctic king.” Introduction Antarctica wasn’t always a frozen wasteland. About 250 million years ago, it was covered in forests and rivers, and the temperature rarely dipped below freezing. It was also home to diverse wildlife, including early relatives[…]

Examining the Fossil Record and Prehistoric Life in Antarctica

It is clear that a major extinction event occurred around Antarctica in the period 2–3 million years ago. Introduction Life has been on earth for about 3.5 billion years. Until about 575 million years ago, all life was microscopic plant life. Before that time, life in the Antarctic was very different from the way it[…]