Teddy Roosevelt and Religion in Politics

Attacks on a candidate’s religious beliefs and affiliations have a long history in America. Teddy Roosevelt knew the danger in this. Catholics, Unbelievers, and Elections In the 1908 presidential campaign, the religious beliefs of the Republican Party nominee, William Howard Taft, came under attack. In response, another prominent Republican – the outgoing President Theodore Roosevelt[…]

A History of Apocalyptic Theology and Threat in American Politics

American leaders have often yielded to despair and lamented “the end” – as far back as the founding of the republic. ‘We Are Not a Chosen People’ During the early stages of national life, the mood was no different. Actually, it was even worse. When Thomas Jefferson realized the implications of grounding a nation upon[…]

Running for President and the Political Machine since George Washington

The technical qualifications for candidates are the same, but how people seek the nation’s highest office has shifted over the centuries. Introduction The requirements have stayed the same – just about any natural-born citizen over the age of 35 can run for president. But who decides who runs has changed substantially. So has campaigning. Nowadays,[…]

The Development of the Two-Party System in Early America

Hamiltonians became known as Federalists and Jeffersonians became known as Democratic-Republicans. Hamiltonians vs. Jeffersonians After the new United States Congress completed its first task of creating a Bill of Rights, it turned its attention to the issue of financing the new government. President George Washington appointed Alexander Hamilton as the Treasury Secretary, and Hamilton took[…]

James Madison and the Origins of Partisanship in the United States

Critics argue that Congress has become the “broken branch” of government, marked by extreme partisanship and few achievements. They prescribe nostrums ranging from campaign finance regulation to redistricting reform to foster compromise rather than conflict on Capitol Hill. Yet the American founders, especially James Madison, believed “ambition must be made to counteract ambition” as a way[…]

The Progressive Presidents: Teddy Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson

The ownership of corporations and the relationship between owners and laborers were the contentious topics of the period. Roosevelt’s Square Deal At the dawn of the twentieth century, America was at a crossroads. Presented with abundant opportunity, but also hindered by significant internal and external problems, the country was seeking leaders who could provide a[…]

Garfield, Harrison, McKinley, and the Legacy of the Front Porch Campaign

At the beginning of the 1880s, Democratic and Republicans candidates observed a tradition of reserve and silence during campaigns. Since gaining a decisive lead in the Democratic primaries, Joe Biden has faced a situation unique in contemporary politics: while preparations for the upcoming general campaign are underway, the candidate himself is locked up at home.[…]

American Politicos and the Weaponization of Conspiracy Theories in the 19th Century

Rumors of secret alliances, bank deals, and double-crossings were rampant in early American elections. 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 have been[…]

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[…]

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[…]

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[…]

19 Facts about the 19th Amendment

Women’s historic struggles to vote continue to resonate as the country debates who should vote and how. The 19th Amendment enfranchised millions of women across the United States following a seven-decade campaign. The struggle to expand voting rights to women resonates today as the country continues to debate who should vote and how. As scholars[…]

A History of the Ups and Downs of American Vice Presidents

The vice presidents of the United States are typically an unsung lot. Why would anyone write a book about so many little-known, powerless vice presidents? Presidential succession is the first and arguably the most important decision facing a presidential nominee. Therefore, presidential nominees should themselves be held accountable by the voters in terms of their judgment[…]

Subversives in the City: Responses to Radical Politics in Chicago, 1886-1958

From the 1880s through the 1960s, Chicagoans engaged in a passionate debate over how government should respond to political radicalism. Introduction The city of Chicago provided a crucial battleground for a national struggle over the meaning of political radicalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The term political radicalism refers to individuals and[…]

The Late Governor Goebel: Election Disputes and Guns in 19th-Centuy Kentucky

Families were deeply divided after the Civil War and Kentucky was the most violent state in the Union. In the last days of the nineteenth century, Kentucky was the most violent state in the union. New York reported a few more murders, but that’s mainly because in some parts of Kentucky such records were not[…]

Parlor Politics: The Activist Legacy of Harriet Beecher Stowe

She was a famous activist in her day, arguably the most famous in the world. 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 issue at the heart of[…]

Anti-Statism in U.S. History

Why have some perceived the State as a threat? How has anti-statist thought changed over time? Introduction The United States came into being through a colonial revolt against the British monarchy and, ever since, Americans have remained uneasy about the power of the State, or centralized, national government. From the eighteenth century on, American intellectual[…]

Subject to Citizen, Kingdom to Nation: Changing Notions of Identity in the Age of the French Revolution

What did it mean to become a citizen of the new nation? Introduction In 1789 the people of France began a revolution that would bring profound changes to their country’s political and social order. These changes came especially fast during the first six years: The Revolution started with the establishment of the National Assembly and[…]

The Free Soil Party, 1848-1854

More successful than most third parties, it had two senators and fourteen representatives sent to the thirty-first Congress. Introduction The Free Soil Party was a short-lived political party in the United States which was active in the 1848 and 1852 presidential elections, and in some state elections. It formed as a breakaway faction of the[…]

A History of Political Parties in the United States

The need to win popular support in a republic led to the American emergence of voter-based political parties in the 1790s. Introduction Political parties in the United States are dominated by two major parties. Since the 1850s, they have been the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. This two-party system is based on laws, party[…]

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[…]

The Remarkable Success of Midwestern Front Porch Campaigns from Garfield to Harding

By 1840, William Henry Harrison became the first presidential candidate to tour and give speeches to adoring throngs. By Jeffrey Normand Bourdon The ways that presidential candidates have reached out to voters over the course of US History have changed partly because the franchise has been opened to more people so more voter participation in[…]

Voices, Votes, Victory: Presidential Campaign Songs since George Washington

Lyrics ranged from broad satire to sincere political expression, demonstrating just how effective a messenger music can be. Early Rally Songs “Washington’s March” America’s earliest presidential elections were simple contests in which the candidate who garnered the most votes won. With impassioned partisan races yet to emerge, political songs were expressions of patriotism. “The Favorite[…]

Counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s: Politics in a Fractured Society

As people lost hope of reuniting as a society with common interests and goals, many focused on issues of significance to the subgroups to which they belonged. Hippies and the Counterculture In the late 1960s and early 1970s, many young people came to embrace a new wave of cultural dissent. The counterculture offered an alternative[…]

The Pre-Revolutionary Period and the Roots of the American Political Tradition

It was not new ideas but old ones that led the colonists to revolt and form a new nation. Political Thought in the American Colonies American political ideas regarding liberty and self-government did not suddenly emerge full-blown at the moment the colonists declared their independence from Britain. The varied strands of what became the American[…]