In February 1862, the Pennsylvanian Republican John W. Forney read aloud George Washington’s ‘Farewell Address’ on the Senate Floor. The occasion? It was the 130th anniversary of the first President’s birth. Each year the United States Senate continues to observe Washington’s Birthday in the same manner, alternating between speakers from each party.
Early in 2015, journalists reporting on US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders produced a potentially valuable nugget of opposition research: in 1985, Sanders visited Nicaragua as part of a delegation of US solidarity groups that was given a personal audience with Sandinista president Daniel Ortega.(1) In his first political memoir, published with Verso Bo
In 1899, before Theodore Roosevelt ran for national office, Secretary of State John Hay orchestrated an international agreement with six imperial powers to collectively guarantee the maintenance of free trade in Chinese ports, a potentially lucrative market for American goods and a primary cause of friction among covetous foreign traders.
The ratification of the 13th Amendment in December 1865 marked the crowning achievement in the history of American abolitionism. The sesquicentennial anniversary of this amendment has led to a recent avalanche of scholarship on the downfall of American slavery and the coming of freedom for more than four million slaves. Who abolished slavery? How was slavery abolished?
It is hard to write a genuinely new and intellectually stimulating book about Henry Kissinger, one of the most studied and debated figures in the history of American foreign relations. That Greg Grandin has done so is to his great credit.
When the United States goes to the polls this November to elect a new President many will think back nervously to the corresponding event 16 years ago. Memories of hanging chads, disenfranchised African Americans, weeks of political stalemate and a controversial decision by the Supreme Court will be re-awakened.
Ron Paul’s The Revolution is adamant on one point: to solve the problems in modern America, Americans need to return to Constitutional values. ‘In times like these, we need a return to fundamentals’ (p. 168). The specific fundamentals to which Paul refers are as often the values of Austrian School economists as they are the Founding Fathers.
It is common for historians of the antebellum, civil war, and reconstruction-era United States to talk of ‘the Northeast’, ‘the South’, or ‘the West’ as offhand for a wide range of interests, like the Confederacy, slaveholders, or industrial capitalism.
In Commons Democracy, literary scholar Dana Nelson offers an alternative history of democracy in Revolutionary America. Nelson challenges the comforting narrative Americans like to tell themselves about the ‘Founders’ high-minded ideals and their careful crafting of the sage framework for democracy – a representative republican government’ (p. 3).
The years from 1840 to 1890 constituted a ‘golden age’ of turn out in American elections. Although only white men were assured of their votes, this period saw the highest rate of political participation among the eligible electorate, with roughly 70–80 per cent of voters casting ballots in Presidential elections; as compared to today’s figure of about 55 per cent.