A first edition copy of James Joyce's

"Ulysses" on Trial

It was a setup: a stratagem worthy of wily Ulysses himself.

The Lost Promise of Reconstruction

Can we reanimate the dream of freedom that Congress tried to enact in the wake of the Civil War?
Poster for the 1929 debate between W.E.B. Du Bois and Lothrop Stoddard on the questions:

When W.E.B. Du Bois Made a Laughing Stock of a White Supremacist

Why the Jim Crow-era debate between the African-American leader and a ridiculous, Nazi-loving racist isn’t as famous as Lincoln-Douglas.
A 1936 photograph of Brandon Hall in Washington, Miss., where Henrietta Wood was enslaved in the 1850s.

The Former Slave Who Sued for Reparations, and Won

Henrietta Wood sued the man who had kidnapped her into slavery for damages and lost wages, offering lessons for today’s debate.
Margaret Sanger appeals before a Senate Committee for federal birth-control legislation in Washington, D.C., March 1, 1934.

The Socialist Pioneers of Birth Control

When birth control was still taboo, early socialists fought to make it accessible to working-class women.
A photograph of the Mochida family in California as they wait to be relocated during Japanese internment, 1942.

We Have Been Here Before

Japanese American incarceration is the blueprint for today’s migrant detention camps.
Emma Goldman, who had been described as the most noted woman anarchist in the world, in London, January 25, 1933.

Why Trying to Distinguish Between Useful and Dangerous Immigrants Always Backfires

Yesterday’s “good" immigrant can turn into tomorrow’s radical.
U.S. Supreme Court (2019).

Critics of the Administrative State Have a History Problem

If they return governance to its 19th century roots, they will also do away with courts' ability to review agency action.
John Dillinger's arsenal, photographed after federal agents tried to capture Dillinger and his gang in their Mercer, Wisconsin hideout, April 24, 1934.

They Were Killers With Submachine Guns. Then the President Went After Their Weapons.

Franklin Roosevelt’s National Firearms Act of 1934 was aimed at John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, and other murderous gangsters.
A Southern chain gang, ca. 1900-1906.

Why American Prisons Owe Their Cruelty to Slavery

Slavery gave America a fear of black people and a taste for violent punishment. Both still define our criminal-justice system.

A Lynch Mob of One

The assault rifle has enabled racists to act alone.
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., ca. 1903.

The Contradictions of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

The Supreme Court justice may have been heralded by many of his progressive peers, but the legacy he left behind is far more ambiguous.