Protest and the Great Upheaval of 1877

The issue that started the 1877 affair was not police brutality and institutional racism but economic inequality. One hundred and forty-three years ago the nation was shaken by a nationwide series of strikes almost amounting to a mass rebellion. Though there are clear and obvious differences between the issues, modes of collective action, and the[…]

A History of Domestic Military Intervention in the United States

The use of federal troops in a law enforcement role has a twisted and often anti-working class and racist history. In his controversial “Send in the Troops” New York Times op-ed, Senator Tom Cotton (Republican-Arkansas) misquoted the Constitution of the United States. New York Times editors, who are under fire for running the essay, either failed to fact-check the[…]

Presidential Rivalry and Bad Blood in American History

Rivalries, conflict, and “bad blood” between presidents are part of the story of American history. Most of the time, the presidents involved have been direct rivals in the same election, but not always. Sometimes their conflicts and “bad blood” receded over time, but at other times, the presidents go to the grave with strong unresolved[…]

Thomas Jefferson: One Man, Two Legacies

How different things may have been if Jefferson, Washington, and Madison had freed their slaves. When 75 Americans Who Tell the Truth portraits were shown at numerous locations around Charlottesville, Virginia, from January through April of this year, three of them, Frederick Douglass, John Lewis and Fannie Lou Hamer, were exhibited at Monticello, the celebrated[…]

Remembering, History, and Identity: The Sculpted Life of Benjamin Franklin

The statues of Benjamin Franklin perfectly exemplify the interrelation between history and memory. By Mert DenizPhD StudentAmerican Culture and Literature DepartmentHacettepe University Abstract History and memory are always in interaction as history is the craft of composing fragments of memory into an understandable narrative, so it serves as a medium of transferring memories between individuals,[…]

Pocahontas: Her Life and Legend

The most famous event of Pocahontas’ life, her rescue of Captain John Smith, did not happen the way he wrote it. By Sarah J. Stebbins Introduction Not much is known about this memorable woman. What we do know was written by others, as none of her thoughts or feelings were ever recorded. Specifically, her story[…]

The Roosevelt Bond: Distant Cousins Franklin and Theodore

Politics and war brought Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt ever closer. Introduction On May 26, 1914, Teddy Roosevelt ventured to Washington, D.C., to deliver a lecture at the National Geographic Society. Only a week before, Roosevelt had appeared in New York a jaundiced, frail version of his legendary robust self, after a seven-month trip[…]

Bartram’s Garden and a Compromise of the Founders in 1787

During the contentious deliberations in 1787, an excursion into the country provided a welcome diversion for a handful of delegates. By Diane M. Bitting Their destination on that July morning: the nearby garden of renowned Quaker botanist John Bartram. According to an account in the 2011 book Founding Gardenersby Andrea Wulf, that visit may have led[…]

Bacon’s Rebellion: Traders and Scapegoats in Jamestown, 1676

Bacon’s Rebellion can be attributed to a myriad of causes, all of which led to dissent in the Virginia colony. By Susan McCulley Bacon’s Rebellion was probably one of the most confusing yet intriguing chapters in Jamestown’s history. For many years, historians considered the Virginia Rebellion of 1676 to be the first stirring of revolutionary[…]

Motherhood in the Early American Republic

Women’s roles present in the emerging United States before, during, and after the American Revolution. Introduction “Republican Motherhood” is an 18th-century term for an attitude toward women’s roles present in the emerging United States before, during, and after the American Revolution. It centered on the belief that the patriots’ daughters should be raised to uphold[…]

The Evolution of Federalism in the United States

The period between 1819 and the 1860s had the national government and the states in a push and pull working out a design. Introduction The Constitution sketches a federal framework that aims to balance the forces of decentralized and centralized governance in general terms; it does not flesh out standard operating procedures that say precisely[…]

Federalism, the Founders, and the Constitution

As the Union grew during the two centuries after the founding, state constitutions increasingly included enumerations of rights. Introduction In the United States, the organizing principle of federalism distributes power between the national government and the state governments, both of whose powers rest on written constitutions and both of which can act directly on individuals.[…]

Thomas Jefferson, Yellow Fever, and Land Planning for Public Health

Jefferson, ever sanguine, was merely trying to make the best of a wretched scenario. A yellow-fever epidemic in 1793 hit Philadelphia, a city then of some 50,000 persons. Forty percent of the people fled Philadelphia. That noted, still some 10 percent of the citizens, some 5,000 persons, perished during the epidemic, which ceased when a[…]

Chicken Soup and Other Remedies: A History of Jewish Medicine in America

An exhibit touring many sites where Jewish culture and medicine intersect. By Paula Wasley Introduction Your bubbe was not the first to notice the restorative powers of chicken soup, aka “Jewish penicillin.” The Egyptian Jewish philosopher physician Maimonides prescribed the broth in the twelfth century as a curative for respiratory illnesses—a recommendation that was backed up in[…]

The Political Life of Herbert Hoover

Hoover’s efforts to combat the Great Depression have defined his presidency and his place in American history. By Dr. David E. HamiltonProfessor of HistoryUniversity of Kentucky Introduction Upon accepting the Republican nomination for President in 1928, Herbert Hoover predicted that “We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before[…]

The Importance of Foreign Trade after the American Revolution

In the years following the American Revolution, speed was the most important consideration for ships. Introduction The world that the former British colonies entered as the newly independent United States was one in which countries closely controlled their domestic and international economies. European countries had been practicing mercantilism from the 16th century on as each[…]

George Washington and Executive Power

His actions in office set a precedent for a strong executive branch and a strong central government. Introduction This looks at the legacy of George Washington, perhaps the most influential leader in the creation of the American nation. Through his achievements as commander-in-chief during the Revolution, in support of the drafting and ratification of the[…]

American Cincinnatus: The Presidency of George Washington

As the first president of the United States, George Washington set several important precedents for the federal government. Introduction Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus was a Roman patrician, statesman, and military leader of the early Roman Republic who became a legendary figure of Roman virtue—particularly civic virtue—by the time of the Empire. Our first president has often[…]

Literature of the American Civil War

How did literature help make sense of the war and the profound changes it brought to the nation? Introduction The Civil War has long served as a powerful, organizing division in American literary history. As critics Christopher Hager and Cody Marrs recently noted, 1865 has provided a nearly unquestioned periodization for students, teachers, and scholars[…]

Maggie Lena Walker: Pennies and Nickels Add Up to Success

Maggie Lena Walker was one of the most important Black businesswomen in the nation, and today too few people have heard of her. Maggie Lena Walker was the first Black woman in the nation to organize and run a bank. And she did it in the segregated South in the former capital of the Confederacy,[…]

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[…]