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Curated stories from around the web.
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Norman Mailer in front of Brooklyn skyline.

The New York Intellectuals’ Battle of the Sexes

Norman Mailer’s generation learned to “write like men.” But their female contemporaries from Mary McCarthy to Diana Trilling pioneered a more enduring style.
Donald Trump walking onstage, next to four American flags.

‘The Dred Scott of Our Time’

The Supreme Court has invested the presidency with quasi-monarchial powers, repudiating the foundational principle of the rule of law.
Still from 'Chinatown' showing Jack Nicholson taking photo.

“Chinatown” at 50, or Seeing Oil Through Cinema

On the 50th anniversary of “Chinatown” and the beginning of the end of petromodernity.
Collage of American events in the 1990s.

The Nutty Nineties

What was in the water circa 1992?
President Joe Biden speaking at campaign event.

The Arguments for Biden 2024 Keep Getting Worse

No, "history" does not tell us that the Democrats shouldn't change their nominee.
People swimming and standing in water.

On the Time Benjamin Franklin, American Show-Off, Jumped Naked Into the Thames

On our millennia-long love-hate relationship with getting in the water.
Illustration of soldiers fighting in the Battle of the Cowpens.

Did the South Win the Revolutionary War?

A new book brings to life the war in the South.
Chief Justice John Roberts attending the State of the Union.

J. Roberts et al. v. A. Lincoln

As the Supreme Court invents a law to negate all others, Chief Justice John Roberts now ranks just below Roger Taney.
A painting of Boston harbor, where women in dresses stand on a hill, watching ships
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Invisible Cities, Continued

The 19th century recovery of John Winthrop's sermon, "A City on a Hill."
John Winthrop
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Invisible Cities

On John Winthrop’s oft-misunderstood use of the phrase “a city upon a hill” to describe the New World.
Reconstruction of Mt. Malady hospital at Henricus Historical Park, Virginia.
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Health Care in the New World

Reporter Catherine Moore visits the first hospital in the New World and finds out why the “public plan” in the Virginia colony may have had its drawbacks.
Interior of a Kitchen, by Eliphalet Fraser Andrews.
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Mastering the Art of Reading an Old Recipe

For every moment of historical significance, there is a figure — often hidden — who fed the figures we do remember.
Human figures colored either blue or green.

Mortality Wars

Estimating life and death in Iraq and Gaza.
People seated at town hall meeting.

What We Get Wrong About White Workers

Deindustrialization has helped create a right-wing turn in many Midwestern towns. Long traditions of labor militancy can explain why it hasn’t in others.

The ‘Death Penalty’s Dred Scott’ Lives On

In 1987, the Supreme Court came within one vote of eliminating capital punishment in Georgia because of of racial disparities.
Fanny Angelina Hesse in front of article about her accomplishments.

Meet the Forgotten Woman Who Revolutionized Microbiology With a Simple Kitchen Staple

Fanny Angelina Hesse introduced agar to the life sciences in 1881. A trove of unpublished family papers sheds new light on her many accomplishments.
Freedom School students sitting in a circle on the ground.
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60 Years Later, Freedom Schools Are Still Radical—and Necessary

The Freedom Schools curriculums developed in 1964 remain urgently needed, especially in our era of book bans and backlash.
Chief Justice Earl Warren (left), President Richard Nixon (center), and Chief Justice Warren E. Burger (right).

I Argued ‘U.S. v. Nixon.’ The Supreme Court’s New Ruling on Presidential Immunity Appalled Me.

Fifty years after ruling against a corrupt president, the Court has now decided that presidents are above the law.
Two images: Lajpat Rai (left) and W.E.B. Du Bois (right).
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Black Freedom and Indian Independence

Activists including W. E .B. Du Bois in the United States and Lajpat Rai in India drew connections between Black American and Indian experiences of white rule.
Old picture of Union soldiers holding a pot of coffee.

How Coffee Helped the Union Caffeinate Their Way to Victory in the Civil War

The North’s fruitful partnership with Liberian farmers fueled a steady supply of an essential beverage.
Illustration of the Georgia Peach.
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The Georgia Peach: A Labor History

The peach industry represented a new, scientifically driven economy for Georgia, but it also depended on the rhythms and racial stereotypes of cotton farming.
A wall of tools and cups designed to collect gum for turpentine production.

Turpentine in Time

The hard labor behind what was once one of the nation's most significant industries.
Richard Nixon's face superimposed onto the January 6th protests.

Richard Nixon Would Have Loved the Court’s Immunity Decision

I would know.
A group of Black women in swimsuits and caps gather in a group in a pool.

The Intimacy of Exercise: Sensuality and Sexuality in Black Women’s Fitness History

How did the sensuality, sexuality, and homosociality of exercise create intimate possibilities for Black women in postwar America?
"Sunrise at Northport Harbor" painting by Arthur Dove.

Unpopular Front

American art and the Cold War.
Cover of "Aiding Ireland" featuring potato plant.

Aiding Ireland: The Politics Of How Donors Learned To Give To Far-Off Strangers

A new book argues that Irish famine philanthropy “went viral” in the nineteenth century because relief has been, and continues to be, politically potent.
Baby sleeping in a woman's arms.
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What’s the Definition of “Person”?

Two court cases that defined and changed the nature of personhood.
Mississippi Freedom Summer activists and contact list.

What the Civil Rights Act Really Meant

An overlooked effect of the legislation, passed 60 years ago this week, was its powerful message of hope for Black Americans.
Engraving of the Battle of Lexington After Alonzo Chappel: American colonists and British soldiers exchange fire at the Battle of Lexington, the first skirmish in the US War of Independence.

Taking Up the American Revolution’s Egalitarian Legacy

Despite its failures and limitations, the American Revolution unleashed popular aspirations to throw off tyranny of all kinds.
War tax alternate fund information form.

Death and Taxes

The long history and contemporary relevance of war tax resistance.
Judge Learned Hand.

Learned Hand’s Spirit of Liberty

Eighty years ago, Americans embraced a new definition of their faith: “The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right.”
Chief Justice John Roberts.

The Supreme Court Has Murdered the Constitution

America’s founding document is now an all-but-meaningless scrap of paper. Happy Fourth!
Supreme Court building.
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Supreme Court Opinions Don't Have to Be the Final Word

The Supreme Court doesn't have the last word; the people do. How attorneys pushed back on the flawed 1987 McCleskey decision.
Painting of abstract lines obscuring faces on the cover of "Feeling Asian American" by Wen Liu.
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Racial Hierarchies: Japanese American Immigrants in California

The belief of first-generation Japanese immigrants in their racial superiority over Filipinos was a by-product of the San Joaquin Delta's white hegemony.
Drawing of a woman nurse in a tent with two rows of sick patients in bed.

Listening to Women Nurses and Caretakers

A case study from the smallpox epidemic among North Carolina Moravians.
Site of leaking underground gasoline tanks in Colorado.

How Environmental Law Created a World Awash in Toxic Chemicals

Putting the burden on the government to demonstrate significant risk of harm before regulating has allowed willful ignorance to undermine public health.
Marketplace in New Orleans, 1936.

New Orleans as a Nexus of Power

American empire, bananas, and the Crescent City.
A photograph of TJ Hicks running in the 1904 Olympics with his two coaches holding him upright.

How the 1904 Marathon Became One of the Weirdest Olympic Events of All Time

Athletes drank poison, dodged traffic, stole peaches and even hitchhiked during the 24.85-mile race in St. Louis.
Portrait of Harriet Tubman, in a field.

There Is Room for Our Black Heroes To Be Human

“Night Flyer” expands Harriet Tubman’s legacy to include her family, community and “eco-spiritual worldview.”
Horace M. Kallen c. 1929. Courtesy of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Kultur Klux Klan and Cultural Pluralism at One Hundred

Looking back at Horace M. Kallen's collection of essays entitled "Culture and Democracy in the United States."
Two people calling on AT&T PicturePhone.
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A Prehistory of Zoom

Concerns about privacy and pressures regarding the physical appearance of women and their homes contributed to the failure of AT&T’s 1960s Picturephone.
Bruce Springsteen performing at the New Haven Coliseum in New Haven, Connecticut circa 1977-1978.

Springsteen's U.S.A.

Steven Hyden's new book about Bruce Springsteen's iconic "Born in the U.S.A" album is the product of a lifelong passion for the music of "The Boss."
Cover of "Cue The Sun!" featuring videographers filming people lounging in backyard.

Time to Face Reality

Charting the history of a TV phenomenon.
Lithograph of George Washington on his land with people he enslaved.

What, to the American, Is Revolutionary?

The colonial rebellion we celebrate every July 4th doesn’t fit the definition.
A photograph of Joe Biden next to a photograph of Lyndon Baines Johnson imposed on a red background.

Lyndon Johnson Knew That Part of Wielding Power Is Knowing When to Let It Go

As Democrats debate whether Joe Biden should stay in the race against Trump, LBJ’s often misunderstood example looms.
Painting of three Native Americans in colorful clothing, with other figures walking through forest in background.

Trails of Tears, Plural: What We Don’t Know About Indian Removal

The removal of Indigenous people was a national priority with broad consensus.
Delegates on the floor at the Democratic National Convention at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, August 26, 1964.

How to Steal an Election

The crazy history of nominating Conventions.
Sections of the US Constitution torn to be used as pennants.

Is the United States Too Devoted to the Constitution?

A new book argues that worship of the Constitution has distorted our politics.
W.E.B. Du Bois

When Did Black Voters Shift to Democrats? Earlier Than You Might Think

A look at how and why African Americans first started to abandon the GOP for the Democratic Party.
A French soldier bandaging a wounded Vietnamese comrade.

How the Vietnam War Came Between Two Friends and Diplomats

Bill Trueheart's battles with friend and fellow Foreign Service officer Fritz Nolting illustrate the American tragedy in Southeast Asia.
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