History

Corn and Colonization

Christine M. DeLucia— A kernel of corn, a chunk of quartz. Timothy Alden, Jr., tried to preserve these objects for posterity by donating them in March 1815 to the newly founded American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts. Both items, the minister indicated, bore direct connections to King Philip’s War. That

Continue reading…

Mining and the Rise of Capitalism

Jeannette Graulau— From David Landes’s Prometheus Unbound to Giovanni Arrighi’s Origins of Our Times, scholars continue to quarrel over one of the most difficult questions of all time: the why, how, and where of the origins of capitalism. Some return to the inexhaustible argument of England’s Industrial Revolution. Others, demystifying

Continue reading…

White Supremacy and Privilege: Legacies of Slavery

Richard D. Brown— Everyone reading this enjoys privilege. Some possess athletic or intellectual gifts that set them apart; and those possessing sight, speech, hearing, and physical mobility are privileged. Those possessing the capacity to love and to be loved are privileged. Because these are not “man-made” social or cultural privileges,

Continue reading…

A Tour de Bed

Brian Fagan and Nadia Durrani— What did our ancestors do in bed? It’s an intriguing question. One that we, as archaeologists, realized nobody had sought to answer. Beds, after all, have been around for a very long time—the oldest known is at least 77,000 years old, and the basic design

Continue reading…

The Politics of the Pilgrims and Puritans

Peter C. Mancall— We live in a moment when politics are rough, and not only in the United States. In the United Kingdom, where I am spending the academic year at Oxford, the political debate leading to the parliamentary election on December 12 is as bitterly contested as anything transpiring

Continue reading…

Changing the Guard at Sea

Evan Mawdsley— For seventy-five years the United States has possessed what is, by a very considerable margin, the most powerful navy in the world. It has been an agent of global influence, in times of both war and peace. The US Navy replaced the British Royal Navy, which had held

Continue reading…

Harvey Milk: His Lives and Death

Lillian Faderman— Harvey Milk—charismatic, eloquent, a wit and a smart aleck—was one of the first openly gay men to be elected to any political office anywhere. On November 18, 1977, soon after he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, he made three tape recordings that he

Continue reading…

Will They Swing the Thick Stick?

Martin Pugh— I spent 1969 to 1971 on Voluntary Service Overseas as a Lecturer in European History at the Aligarh Muslim University in India. It was an exciting time politically as Indira Gandhi, the prime minister, had entered her radical phase provoking much controversy within the Congress Party. She nationalized

Continue reading…

Racial Passing in America

Adele Logan Alexander— Over the years, the practice of “passing” for white has variously been considered wicked, cowardly, deceptive, essential, all or none of the above by much of the African American community. Certainly, it was and is controversial. In years, decades, and centuries past, a number of light-skinned African

Continue reading…

Rav Kook: Mystic in a Time of Revolution

Yehudah Mirsky— Though he died in 1935, Rav Avraham Yitzhak Kook (Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook) still towers in contemporary Israeli politics and Jewish spirituality; neither can properly be understood without him. His controversial life and the colossal body of writing he left behind offer powerful lessons and pose difficult questions.

Continue reading…