The Enslaved Chefs Who Invented Southern Hospitality

Black Cooks Created the Feasts that Gave the South Its Reputation for Gracious Living 

“We need to forget about this so we can heal,” said an elderly white woman, as she left my lecture on the history of enslaved cooks and their influence on American cuisine.  Something I said, or perhaps everything I said, upset her.

My presentation covered 300 years of American history that started with the forced enslavement of millions of Africans, and which still echoes in our culture today, from the myth of the “happy servant” (think Aunt Jemima on the syrup bottle) to the broader marketing of black servitude (as in …

The 41-Volume Government Report That Turned Immigration Into a Problem

In 1911, the Dillingham Commission Set a Half-Century Precedent for Screening Out 'Undesirable' Newcomers

The Dillingham Commission is today little known. But a century ago, it stood at the center of a transformation in immigration policy, exemplifying Americans’ simultaneous feelings of fascination and fear …

How the Know Nothing Party Turned Nativism into a Political Strategy

In the 1840s and '50s, Secretive Anti-Immigrant Societies Played on National Fears Fed by the Spread of Slavery

Though the United States is a nation built by immigrants, nativism—the fear of immigrants and the desire to restrict their entry into the country or curtail their rights (or both)—has …

How Attending Elite Universities Helped Mormons Enter the Mainstream 

Through Higher Education, Latter-day Saints Joined the U.S. Meritocracy and Transformed Their Own Identity

The history of Mormon “Americanization” has long puzzled those who try to understand it.

In the last quarter of the 19th century, Mormons, under immense pressure from local and federal …

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 …

America’s Decline Is Relative but Real—and Potentially Dangerous

The Rest of the World Is Catching Up, and the Nation's Cluelessness About Its Weaknesses Will Accelerate the Trend

Is the United States in decline? The debate on the subject lacks both content and context. To take the conversation about American decline away from arbitrary and subjective claims, we …