A history of racial classification on the U.S. Census from 1790 to 2010.
40 acres and a mule
has been a slogan of African-American economic aspirations ever since the legislation creating the Freedman's Bureau
promised ex-slaves parcels not exceeding forty acres each, to the loyal refugees and freedmen
. General William Tecumseh Sherman's Special Field Order No. 15
decreed that the land on slave plantations be seized and distributed to freed slaves, but Andrew Johnson rescinded the order and vetoed expansion of the Freedman's Bureau
. Both Henry Louis Gates
and Dalton Conley
have associated the failure to grant freed slaves their "40 acres and a mule" with the wealth gap
between black and white Americans, but now an economics grad student, Melinda Miller
, has brought important quantitative data to the debate in a new research paper
. [more inside]
The Mammoth Cheese of Cheshire
was the most unusual gift ever given to a President of the United States. In the aftermath of the "Revolution of 1800"
, the eccentric
Baptist preacher John Leland
decided to celebrate the presidency of Thomas Jefferson by convincing the predominantly Baptist farmers of Cheshire, Massachusetts
to create a giant 1,235-pound block of cheese as a monument to small-"r" republicanism and religious freedom. [more inside]
In 1955, at least twelve men in Boise, Idaho were arrested for "infamous crimes against nature."
. In the resulting dragnet, the vice president of the Idaho First National Bank was sentenced to seven years in prison
, while national magazines fomented a McCarthyite Lavender Scare
with headlines such as Male Pervert Ring Seduces 1,000 Boys
. This dark chapter in
Idaho gay history
was documented in both John Gerassi's 1966 book, The Boys of Boise
and the recent film, The Fall of '55
, by documentarian Seth Randal
, but neither Gerassi nor Randal could identify The Queen
, a closeted but politically connected homosexual who allegedly used his massive clout to stop the witch hunt.
America's worst school violence ever
was not a recent event
, but the Bath School disaster
of 1927. Andrew Kehoe
, a school board member upset with his tax bill, used dynamite and some pyrotol
from WWI-era military surplus to blow himself up along with the elementary school of Bath Township
, Michigan, leaving 45 dead and 58 injured. See a 1927 book
on the disaster, a list of victims
, the coroner's inquest
, a historical marker
, a memorial park
, an oral history from a witness
, and a 1920s KKK rant
denouncing Kehoe as an agent of the Roman Catholic conspiracy.
Donald Rumsfeld's recent speech
at the American Legion Convention has revived interest in the 1938 Munich pact
between Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler and its use as an analogy
in foreign policy debates. Military historian Jeffrey Record
weighs in with Appeasement Reconsidered: Investigating the Mythology of the 1930s
. Michael Cairo examines how analogical reasoning
based on "the lesson of Munich" influenced the first Gulf War and Clinton's intervention in Kosovo. Juan Cole argues against "the crock of appeasement"
as applied to the Middle East, whereas MacGregor Duncan claims that the Munich analogy has caused us to underestimate the diplomatic value of appeasement
. Finally, Pat Buchanan claims the Islamo-fascist label is historically inaccurate
(or is he worried that non-Islamic fascists get a bad rap?).
Slavery Ended in the 1960s, not the 1860s
The Civil War made slavery illegal, but that didn't wipe it out completely. White farmer, John Williams, forced his black overseer to murder 11 slaves
in the wake of a 1921 federal investigation. The Dial Brothers
were also convicted by the Justice Department for "African slavery" in the 1940s. In another case, a black genealogist found a 104-year-old man
who claims he and his family were enslaved until the 1960s. It's not necessary to rehash the entire reparations debate
to realize that some of these post-Civil War slavery cases may finally have a day in court.