The Artifacts of White Supremacy: A History of the Ku Klux Klan

Robes, fiery crosses, and even the American flag were all material objects employed by the 1920s Klan to convey their “gospel”. Introduction Discussions about racism—and white supremacy in particular—tend to treat it as a matter of belief, while there’s considerably less talk of how racialized hate becomes tangible and real. And yet, we know the Ku[…]

Charles Sumner: The Fight for Equal Naturalization Rights in 1870

Sumner added fire to an already explosive debate with his amendment to do away with the “whites only” clause of the naturalization law. On July 4, 1870 – 150 years ago this week – Republican Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts urged the U.S. Senate to take a radical step: to strike out the word “white”[…]

The Extortion of Haiti by France in the Early 19th Century

After enduring decades of exploitation at the hands of the French, Haiti was forced to pay a tax for their freedom – $30 billion on today’s money. Introduction I’m a specialist on colonialism and slavery, and what France did to the Haitian people after the Haitian Revolution is a particularly notorious examples of colonial theft.[…]

The Sea Dogs: Queen Elizabeth’s Marauding Privateers in the New World

Spain’s huge empire in the Americas was a tempting source of wealth for rival European powers. Introduction The sea dogs, as they were disparagingly called by the Spanish authorities, were privateers who, with the consent and sometimes financial support of Elizabeth I of England (r. 1558-1603 CE), attacked and plundered Spanish colonial settlements and treasure[…]

Medieval Tournaments: Knights, Aristocracy, and Nationhood

Family arms and honor were put on the line, ladies were wooed, and even national pride was at stake. Introduction The medieval tournament was a forum for European knights where they could practise and show off their military skills in activities such as jousting or the mêlée, indulge in a bit of pageantry, display their[…]

Visigoths: Establishing a European Identity in the Ancient World

The designation Visigothi seems to have appealed to the Visigoths themselves, and in time they came to apply it to themselves. Introduction The Visigoths were the western tribe of the Goths (a Germanic people) who settled west of the Black Sea sometime in the 3rd century CE. According to the scholar Herwig Wolfram, the Roman writer Cassiodorus (c. 485-585 CE)[…]