American History

Lessons from the Civil War for America’s Fractured Present: Part Two

Timothy William Waters— Why Remembering the Civil War Matters: Talking about Belonging in America How we remember the Civil War matters for thinking about our increasingly fragile union today—how we talk about identity, belonging, and leaving. The war seems to offer an obvious moral model. But that solution dissolves when

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Lessons from the Civil War for America’s Fractured Present: Part One

Timothy William Waters— What We (Mis-)Remember about Our Reasons for Fighting America is now so polarized that serious people wonder if the country will hold together. The Atlantic devoted its December issue to “How to Stop a Civil War”—and the Atlantic, founded in 1857, covered the actual Civil War. As

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Martha Gibbs Was a Southern Woman and a Slave-Master

Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers— In 1859, after touring the antebellum South, the journalist and New York Tribune editor James Redpath attempted to explain for his readers why white southern women opposed emancipation. He believed that their sentiments were tied to a lifetime of indoctrination, “reared,” as they were, “under the shadow of the

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Dances with Wolves and the Many Abuses of Lakota History

Pekka Hämäläinen— The histories of the Lakota people and the United States are intimately and violently linked. The Lakotas almost always seem to be there when American history turns and shifts. They were there in 1776, consolidating themselves as a nation in the Black Hills just as the American colonists

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Race, Land, and Migration after the Civil War

Kendra Taira Field— When Thomas Jefferson Brown finally decided to make his home in Indian Territory in 1870, he had been there many times before. For months he had been going in on day trips from Arkansas, his grandson mused more than a century later, learning the Muskogean languages and

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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

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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,

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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

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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

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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

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