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)[…]

A Summer of Protest: Unemployment and Presidential Politics, 1932

Marches, demonstrations, civic unrest, attacks by law enforcement and the military on protesting civilians – in 1932. Introduction An election looms. An unpopular president wrestles with historic unemployment rates. Demonstrations erupt in hundreds of locations. The president deploys Army units to suppress peaceful protests in the nation’s capital. And most of all he worries about[…]

Roanoke Colony: First Contact to Disappearance, 1585-1590

Doomed to failure, this early colonial project lacked adequate planning and logistical support. Introduction The Roanoke Colony was England’s first colony in North America, located in what is today North Carolina, USA. Established in 1585 CE, abandoned and then resettled in 1587 CE, the colonists had little regard for their new environment and were soon in[…]

A Medieval Guide to Predicting Your Future

Perhaps those fortune-telling games have been circulating for much longer than we think! How can you predict the future, interpret your dreams, and protect yourself against harm? Some of the manuscripts digitised for The Polonsky Foundation England and France Project have the answer. Many medieval manuscripts include charms, which seek to influence events through the[…]

Ancient Papyrus Horoscopes: Stars, Planets, and Fortunes

Heavenly bodies and human fate have long been perceived as intertwined. ‘The stars (…) disclose for men what will pertain to them from the time of their birth till their leaving the world’. This is what Dorotheus of Sidon, an astrologer who lived in 1st-century Alexandria, wrote at the beginning of his verse treatise on[…]

Evolution and an Ancient ‘Arms Race’ for Resources

Larger brains lead to a broader social network. Human society rewards individuals who can handle complex social interactions and control large groups of people. Extreme examples of this power are comedians who can fill stadiums entertaining 70,000 people, or politicians who, through their rhetoric and charm, convince millions of us to vote for them so[…]

Seizure of Looted Antiquities Illuminates What Museums Want Hidden

Middlemen often photographed their wares after receiving them from the tombaroli (grave-robbers). Introduction Over 20,000 precious art objects were seized in a raid at dawn — what can this tell us about beauty, theft, and the museum? On July 4, 2018, Europol and the Italian Carabinieri’s Division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage announced the[…]

The Historical Roots of White Supremacist Ideas in U.S. Christianity

Elements of racist ideology have long been present in and justified by white Christianity in the United States. Introduction When a young Southern Baptist pastor named Alan Cross arrived in Montgomery, Ala., in January 2000, he knew it was where the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. had his first church and where Rosa Parks helped[…]

History, the KKK, and Christianity

Nationalism (or “100% Americanism”), Protestant Christianity, and white supremacy became inextricably linked. Randall J. Stephens responds to Kelly J. Baker’s essay, “The Artifacts of White Supremacy,” which is featured in the June issue of the Forum. Baker’s essay considers how discussions about racism—and white supremacy in particular—tend to treat it as a matter of belief,[…]

The Invention of Satanic Witchcraft by Medieval Christian Authorities

The idea of organized satanic witchcraft was invented in Europe by church authorities, who at first were met with skepticism. Introduction On a midsummer day in 1438, a young man from the north shore of Lake Geneva presented himself to the local church inquisitor. He had a confession to make. Five years earlier, his father[…]

An Introduction to the Bestiary, a Book of Beasts in the Medieval World

Some bestiary descriptions explained a creature’s Christian significance while others focused on physical characteristics. Introduction The bestiary — the medieval book of beasts — was among the most popular illuminated texts in northern Europe during the Middle Ages (about 500–1500). Medieval Christians understood every element of the world as a manifestation of God, and bestiaries[…]

Christianity and Globalization in the Year 1000

Their mission was not only to convert people but especially kings and rulers, thereby making the people more amenable. In the year 1000 CE, complex trade networks were taking shape, stimulating unprecedented cultural interactions. The Vikings reached the shores of North America, trade routes connected China with Europe and Africa, and in the Americas, cities[…]

The Growth and Spread of Christianity in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds

The Edict of Milan made the Roman Empire officially neutral with regard to religious worship – and then it flipped into forced conversion. Introduction Persecution of Christians Members of the Early Christian movement often became political targets and scapegoats for the social ills and political tensions of specific rulers and turbulent periods during the first[…]

Brewminate 2020 Election Forecast

Brewminate’s running weekly forecast for the 2020 election. By Matthew A. McIntoshJournalist and HistorianBrewminate Editor-in-Chief Brewminate will be updating a forecast of the 2020 election on a weekly basis. The updates will be posted every Saturday at a minimum with possible updates daily with added commentary. We take an average across multiple polls in each state[…]

The History of Women in the Republican Party

The Republican Party had established itself as the party of reform in the 19th century, not the conservative organization it would become. Introduction Though 19th-century women could not vote, they could and did align with political parties and ideologies. Average citizens demonstrated their partisan loyalties at rallies and public celebrations. And, this included women. The[…]

Celebrating Freedom: The Emancipation Proclamation Expanding a Founding Ideal

The meaning of the Emancipation Proclamation, for those at the time and for us today. As he stood before hundreds of rapt listeners at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Congressman John Lewis took a moment to reflect on the opening passage of the Declaration of Independence. Echoing others who have spoken from the steps,[…]

A Voyage to Freedom: The Escape of Robert Smalls in the Civil War

Robert Smalls commandeered a Confederate ship to escape from slavery in South Carolina. By Meredith Good Two long pulls and a jerk at the whistle cord: That produced the sound echoing in the dark salty air on May 13, 1862, as the CSS Planter stealthily glided against the tide of Charleston Harbor, passing Fort Sumter. This signal[…]

How Charleston Celebrated Its Last July 4th Before the Civil War

As the South Carolina city prepared to break from the Union, its people swung between nostalgia and rebellion. In the cooling evening air, Charleston, South Carolina’s notable citizens filed into Hibernian Hall on Meeting Street for the traditional banquet to close their July 4th festivities. The year was 1860, and the host, as always, was[…]

Mapping a Growing Nation: From Independence to Statehood, 1784-1890

By the end of the century, Congress had authorized a national archive of maps. Introduction In the nineteenth century, Americans began to use maps in radically new ways. For the first time, medical men mapped diseases to understand and prevent epidemics, natural scientists mapped climate and rainfall to uncover weather patterns, educators mapped the past[…]

Mapping a New Nation: Abel Buell’s Map of the United States, 1784

This was the first map of the newly independent United States compiled, printed, and published in America by an American. Introduction Abel Buell, born in Killingworth, Connecticut, was a goldsmith, silversmith, jewelry designer, engraver, surveyor, printer, type manufacturer, mint master, textile miller, and counterfeiter in the American colonies. Buell’s New and Correct Map of the[…]

I Spy Something Free

Women spies of the American Revolution. Introduction Throughout the Revolutionary War, there are stories of heroism; those who sacrificed to save others, those who put their lives on the line to warn of impending danger. The vast majority of these stories involve men. But there are countless extraordinary women who risked and sacrificed just as[…]

Love and the Revolution

Two wives of the American Revolution – one a patriot, one a spy. By Victoria Cooney Lucy Flucker of Boston and Peggy Shippen of Philadelphia were beautiful, well-born, and well-bred specimens of the ideal eighteenth-century American lady when love altered the course of their lives and thrust them into the action and intrigue of the[…]

Mythbusting the Founding Mothers

Examining some myths about women during the Revolutionary War and trying to find the truth. We all can picture the Founding Fathers, gathered in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, debating what to do about tyrannical Britain, and finally signing their names onto the Declaration of Independence. But what about the Founding Mothers? Often the women of[…]

The Cookbook That Declared America’s Culinary Independence

An 18th-century guide taught Americans how to eat simply but sumptuously. By Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald American Cookery, published by the “orphan” Amelia Simmons in 1796, was the first cookbook by an American to be published in the United States. Its 47 pages (in the first edition) contained fine recipes for roasts—stuffed goose, stuffed[…]