Tag: politics

A World “Transfixed”: The International Resonance of American Political Crises during Reconstruction and at Present

The conditions of the global pandemic have made us keenly aware, once again, of the interconnectedness of the world we share. Recent protest movements against systemic racism have radiated from the United States to distant places. Reporting the reactions of people around the world to American events, The New York ...
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Welcoming P. Gabrielle Foreman to the <i>Muster</i> Team

Welcoming P. Gabrielle Foreman to the Muster Team

We are pleased to announce the addition of a new correspondent to our Muster team, P. Gabrielle Foreman. Gabrielle recently moved to Penn State from the University of Delaware where she was the founding faculty director of the award-winning Colored Conventions Project. At Penn State, she'll launch and direct the Center ...
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John Sherman’s Struggle to Preserve Democracy: How 1860 Connects to 2020

John Sherman’s Struggle to Preserve Democracy: How 1860 Connects to 2020

This is not the first time in American history when democratic governance appeared to be under assault. In the years before the Civil War, just as today, minority rule was the norm. White Southerners dominated the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party dominated the federal government. In this way, what ...
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How to Build a Winning Coalition: What Today’s Democrats Can Learn from Pennsylvania’s Republicans in 1860

How to Build a Winning Coalition: What Today’s Democrats Can Learn from Pennsylvania’s Republicans in 1860

American politics during the late antebellum era was divisive and deeply polarized, just like the present. A few key battleground states, most prominently Pennsylvania, decided the outcome of national elections. To win the Keystone State in 1860, Republican Party managers employed keen coalition-building skills. They adapted readily to changing circumstances ...
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Author Interview: Jack Furniss

Author Interview: Jack Furniss

Today we are sitting down with Jack Furniss, author of “Devolved Democracy: Federalism and the Party Politics of the Late Antebellum North,” which appeared in our December 2019 special issue. After graduating from the University of Virginia in 2018, he served as a Visiting Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Rothermere ...
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Teaching the Reconstruction Era Through Political Cartoons

Teaching the Reconstruction Era Through Political Cartoons

During this past fall semester I received an email from a curriculum coordinator at a local school district. She stated that a high school history teacher was running short on time, but wanted to spend one day with his students discussing the Reconstruction era before the end of the semester ...
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Before Opinion Polling: Tracking Public Sentiment in Civil War-Era Politics

Before Opinion Polling: Tracking Public Sentiment in Civil War-Era Politics

For better or for worse, public opinion polls are deeply embedded in American politics. Proponents argue that polls keep elected officials connected to their constituents, make the government more responsive to popular demands, and dispel “myths and stereotypes that might otherwise mislead public discourse.”[1] Critics argue that strict obedience to ...
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A Historian for Troubled Times: James Parton, Andrew Jackson, and the Secession Winter

A Historian for Troubled Times: James Parton, Andrew Jackson, and the Secession Winter

The cry echoed throughout the crisis which followed Abraham Lincoln’s election: “Oh, for an hour of Jackson!” It crossed party and even sectional lines, linking dyed-in-the-wool Democrats to rock-ribbed Republicans, and indignant northerners to anxious southern dissenters. As they scorned lame-duck James Buchanan and awaited his untested successor, many Unionists ...
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2019 Draper Conference Review: “The Greater Reconstruction: American Democracy after the Civil War,” Part II

2019 Draper Conference Review: “The Greater Reconstruction: American Democracy after the Civil War,” Part II

Day two of the 2019 Draper Conference brought four more panels, including a plenary session that concluded the proceedings. For my review of day one of the conference, see my previous post on Muster. A panel on the topic of “Racial Terror and Violence” started off the morning block and ...
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Mudsills vs. Chivalry

Mudsills vs. Chivalry

Writing home from Alabama in November 1863, an Ohio cavalryman celebrated the overthrow of the Southern aristocracy: “The mud sills of the North roam at will over the plantations, burn rails, forage on the country, and the negroes flock into our camps, leaving their lordly masters helpless and dependent,” he ...
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“The Most Potent Money Power”: Slave Traders, Dark Money, and Elections

“The Most Potent Money Power”: Slave Traders, Dark Money, and Elections

With the 2018 midterm elections approaching, the role of money in politics once again looms large in American political discourse. For many, shadowy super PACs, mega-donors, and dark money stand in stark contrast to the sanctity of the individual voter. Political actors recognize and deploy this, with politicians going to ...
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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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