Tag: politics

The Years After the Eight Years: What Lies Ahead?

Today we conclude our roundtable on Ta-Nehisi Coates's We Were Eight Years in Power with a post by Greg Downs. Downs is this roundtable's guest editor and an associate editor at the Journal of the Civil War Era. He is a professor of history at University of California--Davis. Previous installments ...
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It Was a Good Day: White Supremacy and Legal History

Today we share the final installment of our roundtable on Ta-Nehisi Coates's We Were Eight Years in Power. Scott Hancock is associate professor of History and Africana Studies at Gettysburg College, with expertise in Black northerners’ engagement with the law. Previous installments of the roundtable are available here, here, and here ...
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Reconstruction, Power, and the Personal

Reconstruction, Power, and the Personal

This is the first post in our roundtable on We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Today’s post comes from Brandon R. Byrd, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University who specializes in the intellectual history of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States, looking specifically at African American history and the ...
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We Were Eight Years in Power: Introduction to a Muster Roundtable

We Were Eight Years in Power: Introduction to a Muster Roundtable

This week we are running a roundtable about Ta-Nehisi Coates's new book, We Were Eight Years in Power. Our guest editor for the series, Greg Downs, offers his introduction here. Please follow along this week to hear from historians about how Coates's work relates to our study of the Civil War ...
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Political cartoon illustrating a woman being taken into custody

States’ Rights and Antislavery Activism

Michael E. Woods, associate professor of history at Marshall University, has joined our team of Muster correspondents. He is the author of two books and several articles about politics in the antebellum period. Here he offers his first Field Dispatch. Let us know what you think in the comments! The ...
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Using Reacting to the Past in the Civil War Classroom

The time had come for the delegates to Kentucky’s Sovereignty Convention to decide whether or not the state should secede. One by one, the delegates responded to the roll call vote. Once the representatives from the Cumberland Plateau, Pennyroyal, and Jackson Purchase regions had spoken, the vote was tied. It ...
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Portrait of James Buchanan

In “Defense” of James Buchanan

Journalists, pundits, the public, and even some scholars love to celebrate James Polk as a “man of destiny,” successful president, “a political chess master,” and an “expansionist leader” with a “republican vision” who, through “extraordinary diligence,” worked to “spread the blessings of American democracy.”[1] James Buchanan, on the other hand, ...
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Buchanan and His Team of Confederates: (l-r) Jacob Thompson, Lewis Cass, John B. Floyd, President Buchanan, Howell Cobb, Isaac Toucey, Aaron V. Brown, and Jeremiah S. Black. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Harmony Amidst Division: The Cabinet of James Buchanan

At this critical juncture in our history, a new American president will be sworn into office with a nation that appears very divided. Chief among the decisions weighing on Donald Trump’s mind should be how to set up an administration which will bridge that divide. In doing so, he could ...
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The Bubble: Greenbacks, Corruption, and the Politics of Looking Backwards

Throughout this long presidential campaign season, the specter of the Great Recession is well and alive. Over seven years since the end of the recession, many American workers are dealing with painfully slow wage growth and lingering anger and anxiety about the economy. Reacting to these concerns, the candidates offer ...
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A Conflicted Message: Christian Theology and Political Action During the Civil War Era

When citizens of a democratic society participate in electoral politics, they are often forced to determine the extent to which they are willing to compromise on their beliefs when voting. Voters sometimes find ideal candidates who share most if not all of their views, but oftentimes the best candidate in ...
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Whither the Whigs? Donald Trump, the Know-Nothings, and the Politics of the 1850s

The historical curiosity of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Republican nomination has resulted in, among other things, a seeming endless litany of historical comparisons. As modern pundits, politicos, and historians have attempted to explain the success of Trump’s campaign, they have compared his candidacy to any number of historical precedents, ...
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Fighting for Every Yard: Colin Kaepernick and Patriotism in African American History

In recent days, Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest about the treatment of people of color in the United States has garnered both applause and condemnation across the fifty states. Lately, he has been joined by a teammate, a college teammate, an opponent, and soccer star Megan Rapinoe in kneeling or sitting ...
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Fraud, Violence, and ‘Rigged’ Elections: A Warning from Bleeding Kansas

Fraud, Violence, and ‘Rigged’ Elections: A Warning from Bleeding Kansas

Democracy is fragile. One whiff of dishonesty, real or imagined, can undermine our dedication to democratic procedures. Even the wildest accusations about an opponent’s unethical or illegal behavior can help us justify rewriting the rules, or ignoring them altogether, in the name of victory. Allegations of electoral trickery are not ...
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