Tag: politics

The Other Lawrence Massacre: Sectional Politics and the 1860 Pemberton Mill Disaster

The Other Lawrence Massacre: Sectional Politics and the 1860 Pemberton Mill Disaster

Political polarization often magnifies the public significance of a tragedy. As Americans prepared for a bitterly contested presidential election in early 1860, a gruesome industrial accident in Lawrence, Massachusetts, reignited conflict between champions and critics of wage labor. Unlike the violent episodes of 1856 and 1863 in Lawrence, Kansas, the ...
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The Roots of Reconstruction

The Roots of Reconstruction

Today we share the first contribution to our scholarly roundtable on the Fourteenth Amendment. The guest editor's introduction and conclusion can be found here and here. Subsequent posts can be found here, here, and here. In the decades before the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, African American activists helped ...
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Politics of the English Language: Views from 1850

Politics of the English Language: Views from 1850

As a practical tool and a badge of belonging, language is central to our sense of self. The United States has no official language, but the status of its dominant tongue shapes many contemporary conflicts over immigration and national identity. In the name of unity and assimilation, supporters of the ...
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A Bird's Eye View of the Civil War: The Virtues of a Transnational Perspective

A Bird’s Eye View of the Civil War: The Virtues of a Transnational Perspective

Teaching the Civil War takes juggling some very broad, diverse, complex processes in the histories of slavery and freedom, of nationalism, citizenship and state building, of Indian Nations and the West, of modern warfare, of economic transformation of the economy, and of the ways in which people thought about life, ...
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Was There a Plot to Kill Stephen Douglas?

Was There a Plot to Kill Stephen Douglas?

Stephen A. Douglas’s return to the Senate in early 1859 should have been triumphant. He had just been re-elected after a tough campaign against Abraham Lincoln, and he was already anticipating a presidential bid in 1860. But after a meandering journey from Chicago through Memphis, New Orleans, Havana, New York, ...
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Reconstruction Scholars’ Public Engagement: Why It Matters

The recent Alabama senatorial race raised the specter of historians’ role in public debates. After suggesting antebellum slavery as a period of American’s greatness, one candidate dismissed the Reconstruction-era amendments and other amendments designed to create “a more perfect union” (except for the Bill of Rights).[1] Post-election demographic analyses revealed ...
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The Years After the Eight Years: What Lies Ahead?

Today we conclude our roundtable on Ta-Nehisi Coates's We Were Eight Years in Power with a post by Greg Downs. Downs is this roundtable's guest editor and an associate editor at the Journal of the Civil War Era. He is a professor of history at University of California--Davis. Previous installments ...
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It Was a Good Day: White Supremacy and Legal History

Today we share the final installment of our roundtable on Ta-Nehisi Coates's We Were Eight Years in Power. Scott Hancock is associate professor of History and Africana Studies at Gettysburg College, with expertise in Black northerners’ engagement with the law. Previous installments of the roundtable are available here, here, and here ...
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Reconstruction, Power, and the Personal

Reconstruction, Power, and the Personal

This is the first post in our roundtable on We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Today’s post comes from Brandon R. Byrd, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University who specializes in the intellectual history of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States, looking specifically at African American history and the ...
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We Were Eight Years in Power: Introduction to a Muster Roundtable

We Were Eight Years in Power: Introduction to a Muster Roundtable

This week we are running a roundtable about Ta-Nehisi Coates's new book, We Were Eight Years in Power. Our guest editor for the series, Greg Downs, offers his introduction here. Please follow along this week to hear from historians about how Coates's work relates to our study of the Civil War ...
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Political cartoon illustrating a woman being taken into custody

States’ Rights and Antislavery Activism

Michael E. Woods, associate professor of history at Marshall University, has joined our team of Muster correspondents. He is the author of two books and several articles about politics in the antebellum period. Here he offers his first Field Dispatch. Let us know what you think in the comments! The ...
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Using Reacting to the Past in the Civil War Classroom

The time had come for the delegates to Kentucky’s Sovereignty Convention to decide whether or not the state should secede. One by one, the delegates responded to the roll call vote. Once the representatives from the Cumberland Plateau, Pennyroyal, and Jackson Purchase regions had spoken, the vote was tied. It ...
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Portrait of James Buchanan

In “Defense” of James Buchanan

Journalists, pundits, the public, and even some scholars love to celebrate James Polk as a “man of destiny,” successful president, “a political chess master,” and an “expansionist leader” with a “republican vision” who, through “extraordinary diligence,” worked to “spread the blessings of American democracy.”[1] James Buchanan, on the other hand, ...
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Buchanan and His Team of Confederates: (l-r) Jacob Thompson, Lewis Cass, John B. Floyd, President Buchanan, Howell Cobb, Isaac Toucey, Aaron V. Brown, and Jeremiah S. Black. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Harmony Amidst Division: The Cabinet of James Buchanan

At this critical juncture in our history, a new American president will be sworn into office with a nation that appears very divided. Chief among the decisions weighing on Donald Trump’s mind should be how to set up an administration which will bridge that divide. In doing so, he could ...
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caires1

The Bubble: Greenbacks, Corruption, and the Politics of Looking Backwards

Throughout this long presidential campaign season, the specter of the Great Recession is well and alive. Over seven years since the end of the recession, many American workers are dealing with painfully slow wage growth and lingering anger and anxiety about the economy. Reacting to these concerns, the candidates offer ...
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sacco1

A Conflicted Message: Christian Theology and Political Action During the Civil War Era

When citizens of a democratic society participate in electoral politics, they are often forced to determine the extent to which they are willing to compromise on their beliefs when voting. Voters sometimes find ideal candidates who share most if not all of their views, but oftentimes the best candidate in ...
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