The True Story of the 'Free State of Jones': A new Hollywood movie looks at the tale of the Mississippi farmer who led a revolt against the Confederacy (Smithsonian Mag). Newton Knight has always been a controversial figure. "This controversy was fueled in part by Knight's postwar marriage to a formerly enslaved black woman, which effectively established a small mixed-race community in southeastern Mississippi."(Jones County, Mississippi) [more inside]
Back in February, Mississippi (Goddam) Governor Phil Bryant declared April Confederate Heritage Month, joining other southern states in in the practice. Orcinus blogger and SPLC contributor David Neiwert thought it would be appropriate to devote his blog this month to exploring the history of the Confederacy, although perhaps not in the way Bryant intended. [more inside]
"American Panorama is an historical atlas of the United States for the twenty-first century. It combines cutting-edge research with innovative interactive mapping techniques, designed to appeal to anyone with an interest in American history or a love of maps." [more inside]
She didn't actually get expelled...[update in article] History Professor Denies Native Genocide: Native Student Disagreed, Then Says Professor Expelled Her From Course
‘‘I could as easily make a Collection for you of all the past Parings of my Nails,’’ Benjamin Franklin wrote to his sister Jane in 1767, after she asked him to send her all his old essays on politics. It was as if, in dashing off articles, he’d been sloughing off pages, like a snake shedding skin. Franklin liked to think of himself as a book: a man of letters, spine of bone, flesh of paper, blood of ink, his skin a cover of leather, stitched. When he wrote, he molted. He could be as sneaky as a snake, too, something to bear in mind when reading his autobiography, as sly an account as anything Franklin ever allowed himself the grave indiscretion of putting on paper.Jill Lepore revisits the legacy of Benjamin Franklin, who in his time was “the most accomplished and famous American who had ever lived.”
Keep Harriet Tubman – and all women – off the $20 bill. "Harriet Tubman did not fight for capitalism, free trade, or competitive markets." [more inside]
He was the worst kind of populist, and believed in a shortsighted, cheap, selfish populism. The kind of populist who sneers at wussy bleeding-heart Americans like Ralph Waldo Emerson and their moralizing against Indian removal when there’s cheap land to be had. The kind who rages at the expertise of elitist eggheads like Nicholas Biddle and Henry Clay putting regulations in the way of easy profits. The kind who’s absolutely OK with Southern postmasters ripping up abolitionist pamphlets in the mail.If the Reagan people want to put Ronald Reagan on the $20 bill and boot Andrew Jackson off, I’m all for it.
From the Boston Public Library's Postcard Collection, enjoy approximately 25,000 office proofs of postcards of the United States published by the Boston firm Tichnor Brothers Inc. The collection is sorted by state, plus a few miscellaneous US-related cards and other postcards, including two different color charts. Some images are also available on Digital Commonwealth, and Wikimedia Commons.
As Neda Maghbouleh pointed out for an article in the January 2009 issue of Center for New Racial Studies, the 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama gave Portland newspapers a striking image of its racial makeup. Just look at the photo above from Portland during Senator Obama's presidential campaign. You'd be forgiven for thinking that maybe Dave Matthews Band was about to go on stage.There's a reason why Portland, and Oregon in general, are so whitebread: it was founded as a whites-only, racist utopia with no room for black or Asian people.
No-man's Land. (Fear, Racism, and the Historically Troubling Attitude of America's Pioneers)
DISCUSSED: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Kansas, Bonnets, “A Great Many Colored People,” Copper Gutters, Martin Luther King Jr., People Who Know Nothing about Gangs, Scalping, South Africa, Unprovoked Stabbing Sprees, Alarming Mass Pathologies, Chicago, Haunted Hot Dog Factories, Gangrene, Creatures from the Black Lagoon, Tree Saws, Headless Torsos, Quilts, Cheerleaders, Pet Grooming Stores, God
My name is Omar ibn Seid (pdf, 163 kb). My birthplace was Fut Tûr, between the two rivers. I sought knowledge under the instruction of a Sheikh called Mohammed Seid, my own brother, and Sheikh Soleiman Kembeh, and Sheikh Gabriel Abdal. I continued my studies twenty-five years. Then there came to our place a large army, who killed many men, and took me, and brought me to the great sea, and sold me into the hands of the Christians, who bound me and sent me on board a great ship and we sailed upon the great sea a month and a half, when we came to a place called Charleston in the Christian language. There they sold me to a small, weak, and wicked man.[more inside]
"We all appreciate what you're doing" "But?" "But you're LOUD and you say uncomfortable things and it is Victorian times" "So what makes people uncomfortable in Victorian times?" "I don't know, being alive?" [more inside]
Yeah. Indiana’s got a constitution, which says you can’t pass special laws for one city, one town, etc. But they got around that, because instead of saying, “We want to eliminate the buffer zone around Gary,” they said, “We want to eliminate the buffer zone around a city that has a river that runs through it, and that has a steel mill…” and by the time you got down to it, there was only one city in the state that fit that description.Gary, Indiana: the city that split in two.
"On June 3 and 4, 1942, Japanese military forces conducted air strikes on U.S. Army and Navy facilities at Dutch Harbor, in what is now the city of Unalaska. Several days later, they occupied Kiska and Attu islands, the latter the location of an Unangax village. Within a short time, the 42 Unangax residents of Attu and a non-Native teacher were taken to Japan, where they served as laborers for the Japanese for the duration of the war ... For the Unangax [or Aleut] of most other villages, World War II brought a different fate:" internment camps in the United States [more inside]
Seizing of America. How United States took over 1.5 billion acres from native peoples.
Need to argue with your crazy uncle about what the Founders really intended? Or maybe you're wondering what an 18th Century AskMe might have looked like. The National Archives has launched Founders Online, a searchable collection of over 100,000 annotated and transcribed documents including letters, speeches, diaries and more from the collected papers of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and family, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison.
"On August 25, 1921, the largest labor insurgency in American history and the largest civil uprising since the Civil War began in Logan County, West Virginia when 10,000 miners and their supporters went to war with 3000 coal mine executives and their hired thugs. The Battle of Blair Mountain is one of the least known major events in American history." -- America's long labour history, even such spectacular events like the Battle of Blair Mountain, is largely unknown, but historian Erik Loomis is trying to change that with his This Day in Labor History series for Lawyers, Guns and Money.
"In the early 1800s, a hammer was kept near Plymouth Rock for the pilgrim who had forgotten to bring one. By the end of the 19th century, what was left of the rock was fenced off within a memorial." "The United States, it turns out, was a nation of casual plunderers from the start. Visitors to Mount Vernon snapped splinters from the moldings; beachgoers in Massachusetts chiseled off chunks of Plymouth Rock; tourists snipped fabric from the White House curtains. By the early 19th century, newspapers were referring to illicit souvenir hunting as a “national mania.” " [more inside]
NYT Editorial Filter -- "Now African-Americans make up about a fifth of the military. The idea that today we ask any of these soldiers to serve at a place named for a defender of a racist slavocracy is deplorable; the thought that today we ask any American soldier to serve at a base named for someone who killed United States Army troops is beyond absurd. Would we have a Fort Rommel? A Camp Cornwallis?" [more inside]
Hosted by three professors of US history (one a specialist in the 18th Century, one in the 19th, and one in the 20th), each episode of the radio show and podcast Backstory takes a subject from the news and looks at the American history behind it. [more inside]
USF's collection of maps of America. Includes killing frost dates from 1911, Hog production circa 1860, 1900, Paths of Western Exploration and many more.
Ever heard of the Jewett City Vampires? Sure, you know about Salem and its witches, but New Englanders also went through several vampire panics that come far closer to the present than any Salem shenanigans. But who were the real people behind the modern legends? One common thread in the American myths: Tuberculosis (PDF).
Fifty-five years ago this month, nine black students attempted to integrate Little Rock Central High School. [more inside]
The unexpectedly fascinating story of pantyhose in wartime, via Smithsonian Magazine (part 1, part 2).
While courts say you can wear them in a snowstorm if you want to, yesterday was the last acceptable day to wear straw hats unless you're willing to offend someone and risk your life. Top hats and Sheath Skirts might be risky too.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says the National Guard is prepared to respond to unrest among state workers: "Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond if there is any unrest among state employees in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights." NY Times offers more reporting on Walker's proposals here. Notably, Walker is reportedly refusing even to negotiate with the public employee unions. Though Walker's carefully worded announcement avoided any specific commitments about how guard troops might be used much beyond noting the Wisconsin Governor's concern that "some union leaders will try to incite their members," a look back at the history of the labor movement in the US reveals that this wouldn't be the first time in US history the National Guard has been called upon to respond to labor unrest, and that the results haven't always been pretty. [more inside]
The Long Recall is a daily news aggregator chronicling the buildup to the U.S. Civil War. The daily posts are "digests of the news and commentary that an intelligent American might have had accessible 150 years ago."
Hite's Law: "All alternate histories produce zeppelins." Kenneth Hite has been featuring alternate Mondays on his livejournal.What if Tewodros II hadn't unified Ethiopia? What if Bonnie Prince Charlie had been worth the powder it would take to blow him out of a cannon barrel? How could Carthage have won the Punic Wars? What if King Kalakaua of Hawai'i had succeeded in forging a Union and Federation of Asiatic Nations and Sovereigns with Japan? How could 20th century North America have ended up ruled by rival warlords? How could things have gone not quite so badly for the Huguenots? What if the Suez Crisis and the invasion of Hungary hadn't been contemporaneous? [more inside]
On June 15th, 1920 in Duluth, Minnesota, three young, black circus workers, Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Issac McGhie, were lynched. The Minnesota Historical Society has a great site devoted to the terrible event, Duluth Lynchings Online Resource. I'd especially like to point out the Oral Histories section, which has short interviews with African-Americans who lived through the event. In 2001 Minnesota Public Radio covered the story, inspired by a campaign to build a memorial to the three men, which was dedicated in October of 2003. The Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial has a fine website which is well worth visiting.
England viewed the colonies as nothing more than a back-talking teenager that needed smacked. The Japanese were put in concentration camps, so we could concentrate on them. During this time, Lespians came out of their nests. [more inside]
In 1865, after the end of the Civil War, Col. P. H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee, wrote to his former slave, Jourdon Anderson, asking him to return to work for him. In reply, Jourdon Anderson told Colonel Anderson exactly where he could stick his offer. This letter was part of The Freedmen's Book (full download in many different formats) which was distributed to those freed after and during the Civil War, so that they would know stories of other freedmen who had done well, including Touissant L'Ouverture, Phillis Wheatley and Frederick Douglass. The book was put together and published by Lydia Maria Child, abolitionist, women's rights activist, Indian rights campaigner and all around awesome person. She became famous in her own time for her cookbook The Frugal Housewife, but today her best known work is Over the River and Through the Woods. The Freedmen's Book was part of an effort by abolitionists after the war to educate freed slaves. The American Antiquarian Society has a great website about that movement, Northern Visions of Race, Region and Reform, which has plenty of primary sources and images galore.
About 2% of the US population died while serving in the military during the US Civil War, roughly equivalent to about six million people today. A few years after the war the best selling book at 100,000 copies was Elizabeth Stuart Phelps' The Gates Ajar, which deals mainly with heaven and what exactly happens there. Spoilers follow. [more inside]
The Sixties Project - The Sixties Project began as a collective of humanities scholars working together on the Internet to use electronic resources to provide routes of collaboration and make available primary and secondary sources for researchers, students, teachers, writers and librarians interested in the Sixties. [more inside]
Fire destroyed the office of the War Department and all its files in 1800, and for decades historians believed that the collection, and the window it provided into the workings of the early federal government, was lost forever. Thanks to a decade-long effort to retrieve copies of the files scattered in archives across the country, the collection has been reconstituted and is offered here as a fully-searchable digital database.
Explorations in Black Leadership is a collection of video interviews with prominent African-Americans, focusing on activists of one sort or another. 34 people are interviewed, including Nikki Giovanni, John Lewis, Barbara Lee, Bobby Rush, Dorothy Height and Amiri Baraka. There are full transcripts of every interview. Here's an excerpt from the Nikki Giovanni interview: "The kids today have to have a voice. I'm amazed that they found it. I remember Sugarhill Gang with Sylvia, you know: "Uptown, Downtown, the Holiday Inn." You know, things like that. Then, of course, I remember the explosion of Tupac Shakur. Losing Tupac was a great loss for this generation. I have a tattoo--it says "Thug Life" --because I wanted to mourn with this generation. I don't see how people can knock the kids…paying so little attention. I had deep regrets--and I know Rosa Parks, you know, we don't hang out but I know her--I so regretted that she lent her name to be used against Outkast, because Rosa Parks is a wonderful--is a wonderful tune. And they were giving her problems. If people don't--if the younger generation doesn't sing the praises of the older generation they get forgotten."
WWJD (Which Words Jefferson Digested) Some Flash
Slavery in the North is a website covering the 200-year history of slavery in the northern colonies in what would become the United States.
African American Holocaust [Warning: contains graphic material] Nearly 5,000 black Americans were lynched between 1890 and 1960. In her new book, On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the Twenty-First Century, University of Maryland School of Law Associate Professor Sherrilyn Ifill traces the ongoing impact of these crimes. While the lynchings were devastating, Professor Ifill argues that the little-known contemporary consequences, such as the marginalization of political and economic development for blacks, are equally pernicious, and that there's still a great deal of education and reconciliation that still needs to happen. [Previous Links]
Grange Halls are common landmarks in America's rural communities. But what is a "Grange"? The Order of Patrons of Husbandry is a fraternal agricultural organization, but it's not just a social group for farmers; Grange lobbying fought railroad monopolies and led to Rural Free Delivery, the Farm Credit System, and other "progressive legislation that will benefit U.S. agriculture, rural America, and the nation in general". But after 140 years, the Grange is fading away.
'A Different Understanding With the President' The first of four chapters in this week's Washington Post on how Dick Cheney became the most influential and powerful man ever to hold the office of vice president. This series examines Cheney's largely hidden and little-understood role in crafting policies for the War on Terror, the economy and the environment. By Barton Gellman and Jo Becker.
Excerpts from and pictures of Ronald Reagan's diaries while president, with a brief intro from historian Douglas Brinkley.
McKinley Assassination Ink: "The goal [...]: to gather the largest possible selection of full-text primary source documents relating to the assassination of William McKinley and the immediate aftermath of that event, including the succession of Theodore Roosevelt to the presidency and the incarceration, trial, and execution of [anarchist] assassin Leon Czolgosz."
Teenage Hoboes in the Great Depression. During the Great Depression over 250,000 young people left home and began riding freight trains or hitchhiking across America. Most of them were between 16 and 25 years of age. Many finally found work and shelter through the Civilian Conservation Corps, a government relief project that Franklin D. Roosevelt established in 1933 as part of the New Deal. From 1933 to 1942, CCC enrollees built new roads, strung telephone wires, erected fire towers, and planted approximately 3 billion trees. By 1935, the program was providing employment for more than 500,000 young men.
America's First Superstar. He was the highest paid actor in the world, beloved by fans so passionate about his performances that a riot (23 people killed, more than a hundred wounded) ensued when a rival dared to perform the role that had made him famous. He enjoyed all the trappings of a superstar's life: portraits taken by America's most famous photographer, a large mansion (now a historic landmark), and of course a scandalous divorce trial (he lost). He was also one of the most prominent book collectors in the country. Edwin Forrest was born 200 years ago.
Jefferson has his Monticello; Washington, Mount Vernon. Now, Benjamin Franklin's only surviving residence, Number 36 Craven Street, London, opened its doors to the public. More inside.
Beyond the Playing Field: Jackie Robinson, Civil Rights Advocate. (more inside)
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