Frederick Douglass’s Love-Hate Relationship With America

Historian David Blight Tackles the Great Abolitionist's Contradictions and His Enduring Legacy

From his youth, as a slave growing up in antebellum Maryland, Frederick Douglass saw the double-ness of American life. He recognized the gulf between the nation’s enlightened principles and its racist policies, the fissure between the noble rhetoric of its white ruling class and the violence with which that same class bound African Americans in captivity.

And through the lenses of his formidable intellect and his flammable oratory, Douglass later would confront his own double-ness—his simultaneous love for, and rage at, the United States.

A packed audience at the National …

The Midwest Farmers Movement That Challenged Gilded Age Capitalism

In the 19th Century, the Grange Was an Agricultural Brotherhood That Sought to Foster Mutual Self-Reliance and Free Themselves From Middlemen and Monopolies

Perhaps you’ve seen them on a leisurely weekend drive through the countryside—small white structures with the sign “Grange Hall.” Although the Grange is now a mere shadow of its …

In Whose God Do Americans Trust?

How the Religious Right Projected Evangelical Conservatism Onto the Founding Fathers

Charles Bennett, a Democratic Congressman from Jacksonville, Florida, was afraid of communism. In July 1955, he spoke of his concerns on the floor of the House of Representatives. “In these …

How Dodge City Became the Ultimate Wild West

Fake News and Smoking Guns Made the Kansas Town a Symbol of Frontier Lawlessness

Everywhere American popular culture has penetrated, people use the phrase “Get out of Dodge” or “Gettin’ outta Dodge” when referring to some dangerous or threatening or generally unpleasant situation. The …

When a Fiery Populist Inflamed the Nation—but His Political Rivals Won the War

Over Time, the Whig Party's Moderate, Modern Agenda Trumped Andrew Jackson's Imperial Presidency

Two centuries after he served as president, Andrew Jackson remains an enduring figure both in history—the 1820s and ’30s are known as “The Age of Jackson”—and in American political conversation, …

American Populism Shouldn’t Have to Embrace Ignorance

Rejecting Authority and Expertise Doesn't Make All Opinions Equally Worthy

Public ignorance is an inherent threat to democracy. It breeds superstition, prejudice, and error; and it prevents both a clear-eyed understanding of the world and the formulation of wise policies …