Populism, Sovereigntism, and the Unlikely Re-Emergence of the Territorial Nation-State

Populists deployed an extreme concept of popular sovereignty over the course of the 20th century. Abstract In the last three decades, the rise of a populist challenge to the liberal political mainstream exposed how shallow the supposed victory of global liberalism was, even in its heartlands in Europe and North America. Exclusive nationalism and nativism,[…]

When Populist Wendell L. Willkie Upended the GOP Primary in 1940

The populist businessman known as “the barefoot Wall Street lawyer” took over his party’s convention in Philadelphia. Later this week, the historic nomination of the first female candidate for president by a major political party at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia is sure to generate considerable hoopla. But, as with all U.S. presidential conventions[…]

The Public Relations Strategy That Made Andrew Jackson President

Long before his campaign launched, ‘Old Hickory’s’ supporters were scrubbing his image. Sixty-five years ago, historian John William Ward had the insight that for better or worse, Andrew Jackson’s victory over the British at New Orleans on January 8, 1815, made him the “Symbol for an Age.” There are those who would argue that the[…]

The Mad Men Who Invented the Modern Political Attack Ad

Since 1964, advertising agencies have sold presidential candidates as if they were cars or soap. On September 7, 1964, a 60-second TV ad changed American politics forever. A 3-year-old girl in a simple dress counted as she plucked daisy petals in a sun-dappled field. Her words were supplanted by a mission-control countdown followed by a[…]

When American Politicos First Weaponized Conspiracy Theories in the 1820s and 1830s

Outlandish rumors helped elect Presidents Jackson and Van Buren and have been with us ever since. From claims that NASA faked the moon landing to suspicions about the U.S. government’s complicity in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Americans love conspiracy theories. Conspiratorial rhetoric in presidential campaigns and its distracting impact on the body politic[…]

Edith Abbott and Sophonisba Breckinridge: Partners in Life and Politics in the Early 20th Century

Long before Chasten Buttigieg became a ‘not-so-secret weapon’ in his husband Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign, another same-sex couple profoundly reshaped American social policy. Since openly gay South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced his bid for the presidency, news outlets have been full of stories about Buttigieg and his husband. By highlighting the novelty of an out[…]

Guts, Stamina, Audacity: Shirley Chisholm’s House Career

Beyond the headlines and iconic reputation she built across party lines, she had to fight just as hard within the House for the causes she supported. Introduction Fifty years ago this month, Shirley Chisholm, the charismatic and outspoken Brooklyn educator and politician, made history when she became the first African-American woman to serve in Congress. Small in stature,[…]

How Herbert Hoover Skirted Scandal to Win the White House

The public was charmed by his presentation as an antidote to politics, until the Great Depression hit. It was not the craziest election of the 20th Century, but it might have been the strangest. One candidate was a natural politician, affable and gregarious, a true man-of-the-people who favored flashy suits and a trademark derby hat.[…]

The Untold Story of the Presidential Candidate Once Named “Our Other Franklin”

Massive rallies, an emulated style, and voted from both Democrats and Republicans couldn’t save this quixotic candidate’s campaign – or his life. A populist desire for “reform” runs deep in the psyche of American voters. Every few decades, a presidential candidate channels this rebellious spirit. Andrew Jackson was such a candidate in 1828. So were[…]

Daniel Webster and the Dazzling 1830 Defense of a Strong Federal Government

New England statesman Daniel Webster believed in strong, centralized power when it served his region’s interests. For generations, school children memorized the ending to Daniel Webster’s “Second Reply to Hayne,” delivered during the famous Webster-Hayne debate of January 1830. This most-famous-of-debates began in a modest fashion, with an argument over westward expansion and morphed into[…]

Unethical, Even Illegal Campaign Tactics Are as Old as Our Republic

Since the earliest years of the republic, candidates have used deceptive, underhanded and dubiously legal tactics to discredit their opponents. 1800: Jefferson vs. Adams The 1800 race between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams was a lowly beginning for the new American democracy. Jefferson was Adams’ vice president from 1797 to 1801. To defeat his boss without[…]

The Unseen Significance of Jefferson’s Natural-Aristoi Letter to Adams

Thomas Jefferson crafted a letter to John Adams in a delayed reply to several other letters on views of aristocracy. On October 28, 1813, Thomas Jefferson crafts a letter to John Adams in a delayed reply to several other letters, written by Adams on his views of aristocracy, which cry out for a reply. Adams[…]

The Jewish People, Expatriate Artists, and Political Radicalism in Interwar France

Jewish would-be artists began arriving in Paris in the decade before the First World War. Jews were new neither to Paris nor to the artistic avant-garde in the 1920s. What was new were both their numbers and visibility. One French study estimates that over five hundred Jewish artists were working in Paris in the interwar[…]

Masculinity and Political Violence in Interwar France

It was an era and a culture that was both misogynist and racist, in which Jews from Léon Blum on down were castigated as effete “coffeehouse Jews.” On a clear, beautiful day in the center of the city of Paris I performed the first act in front of the entire world. Scholom Schwartzbard, letter from[…]

The Pankhurst Sisters: Bitter Divisions behind Their Fight for Women’s Votes

Sylvia Pankhurst’s book is the dominant narrative of the time, but was she unfair to her sister Christabel? Emmeline Pankhurst, her eldest daughter Christabel and some local socialist women founded, in 1903, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Their goal was to campaign for the parliamentary vote for women. The women-only WSPU, whose members were called[…]

The Ugly Election of 1828

As the presidential election of 1828 approached, the nation’s emotions were running high. As the presidential election of 1828 approached, the nation’s emotions were running high. Andrew Jackson, the former Governor of Tennessee, was to challenge incumbent president John Quincy Adams. This was a partial rematch of the controversial four-way contest of 1824. Jackson won[…]

The 1824 Election and the ‘Corrupt Bargain’

The outcome of the very close election surprised political leaders. The 1824 presidential election marked the final collapse of the Republican-Federalist political framework. For the first time no candidate ran as a Federalist, while five significant candidates competed as Democratic-Republicans. Clearly, no party system functioned in 1824. The official candidate of the Democratic-Republicans to replace[…]

The Irish Revolution and the Birth of Dáil Éireann

January marked the 100th anniversary of Dáil Éireann, Ireland’s Parliament. This month marks the 100th anniversary of Dáil Éireann, Ireland’s Parliament. Amid the better-known events of a century ago that led to Ireland’s independence from its union with Britain, such as the Easter Rising or the island’s partition with the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the significance of[…]

The Strange Politics of Gertrude Stein

Was the den mother of modernism a fascist? Why were so many prominent modernist writers and philosophers attracted to fascist or authoritarian regimes in the first half of the twentieth century? A list of those who were not—Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Thomas Mann, and Robert Musil—pales in comparison to a list of those who were—Ezra[…]

Parlor Politics: The Activist Legacy of Harriet Beecher Stowe

She was a famous activist in her day, arguably the most famous in the world. What is her relevance today? By Tom Christopher Katherine Kane, executive director of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Connecticut, has no doubts. As she escorts me through Stowe’s home, a 4,500-square-foot Victorian “cottage,” Kane points out that the[…]

A History of Jewish Political Activity in the Early Modern and Modern Periods

In the early modern period, political activity among Jews was limited exclusively to the Jewish community. Introduction In the early modern period, political activity among Jews was limited exclusively to the Jewish community. Autonomous congregational structures existed in the early modern “triple congregation” Dreigemeinde consisting of Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbek. It was only in the[…]

The History and Art of Protest Posters

One of the most common mediums for political art has long been poster making. One of the most common mediums for political art is poster making. From the Mexican Revolution to recent marches infuriated by the Trump administration, posters have continually been used as a powerful form of protest and a symbol of discontent. The[…]

The Election of 1864 and the Importance of Founding Intent

The founders were an essential political and cultural touchstone in the election of 1864. “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”[1] While it might be somewhat trite to begin an article on the[…]

The Politics of Women’s Fashion in the Cultural West

The impact of political and social expectations on women in the Western world. By Dr. Max Barnish, et.al.Research FellowCollege of Medicine and HealthUniversity of Exeter Abstract In this perspective piece, we discuss the politics of fashion in the cultural West. We cover issues of social expectation and individual freedom. We comment on where society draws[…]

Civil Disobedience in Modern Iran: History, Challenges, Prospects for Change

An interview with Mohsen Sazegara, exiled dissident, journalist and writer from Iran. When I sat down with Mohsen Sazegara, exiled dissident, journalist and writer from Iran, to talk about civil resistance in his origin country, I got an unexpected lesson in physics. A former student of mechanical engineering, Sazegara found a way to apply the[…]

The Beard That Wasn’t: Abe Lincoln’s Whiskers

The origins of the sixteenth President’s facial hair are more tangled than you might think. It’s a familiar story. On October 18, 1860, the Hon. Abraham Lincoln of Springfield, Illinois—Republican nominee for President of the United States—received a letter from eleven-year-old Grace Bedell, of Westfield, New York. Though a confirmed Lincoln supporter herself, Bedell worried[…]