How the NFL and American Politicians Politicized (and Helped Merchandise) Pro Football

In the '60s and '70s, Gridiron Fans Like Richard Nixon and Bobby Kennedy Embraced the Sport That Wanted Their Attention

In January 1942, as the United States committed itself fully to World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt decided that baseball, then the national pastime, should sustain civilian morale during the lengthy struggle ahead. He implored its commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, to make sure the games went on, despite worldwide armed conflict. And so they did. Professional baseball players, Roosevelt argued, “are a definite recreational asset.”

Roosevelt did not extend that consideration to professional football players, whose sport did not register politically. As a result, the NFL nearly shut its doors …

More In: politics

Why California’s Godless Governor Was Ahead of His Time

A Friend of FDR but Not of Big Business, Culbert Olson Believed Humans Had to Save Themselves

Culbert Olson is one the most important men you probably never have heard of. He was the only Democrat to serve as governor of California between 1896 and 1958, and …

When North Dakota Farmers Blew up Partisan Politics

By Focusing on Economic Cooperation, Early 20th-Century Small Landowners Pushed Back Against Crony Capitalism

In a nation that envisions innovation as the domain of Silicon Valley start-ups, most dismiss North Dakota as flyover country. Yet the state’s history shows it deserves more credit as …

What Authoritarian Voters Really Want

Aggression, Not Submission to Authority, May Be the Psychological Key to Supporters of Strongmen

Authoritarianism isn’t just a word. When the landmark study The Authoritarian Personality first gave the concept psychological depth in 1950, the memory of authoritarian movements was fresh and indelible. The …

Were Empires Better Than Nation-States at Managing Diversity?

By Respecting Local Cultures, Far-Flung Rulers Fostered Cooperation From Those They Subjected

Did empires actually serve to protect the diversity of their subjugated people? And if so, what lessons can they offer for the challenges facing modern states?

Answering these questions might begin …

The “Little Giant” Who Thought That Backing Slavery Would Unite America

Stephen Douglas' Push to Allow Human Chattel in Nebraska Lit a Match to the Civil War

One of the most ambitious attempts to unite America ended up dividing it, and altering it forever.

At the opening of the 33rd Congress on December 5, 1853, Stephen A. Douglas, …