When the Voyager 1 space probe was launched in 1977, it was equipped with a camera to chronicle its travels through the cosmos. One of the images that astronomer Carl Sagan hoped the probe would capture was that of Earth as the probe left the confines of our solar system, …
Oberlin College Professor of History Pablo Mitchell
I’d Probably Be Mediocre, But Still It’d Be Nice To Be a Sailor
Pablo Mitchell is professor of history and comparative American studies at Oberlin College. He is also the author of Coyote Nation: Sexuality, Race, and Conquest in Modernizing New Mexico, 1880-1920 and West of Sex: Making Mexican America, 1900-1930. His history …
How Jamestown Abandoned a Utopian Vision and Embraced Slavery
In 1619, Wealthy Investors Overthrew the Charter That Guaranteed Land for Everyone
In the summer of 1619, some of England’s first American colonists were carving up land seized from the Powhatan empire along the James River in Virginia. While …
New at Zócalo
In Fighting the Imperial Presidency, California Is Creating a Monster
As It Battles the Federal Government, Sacramento Has Gained Power at the Expense of Local Communities
As California builds its capacity to fight the Leviathan that is the Trump administration, does it risk turning our state government into a Leviathan of our own?
This unhappy question—about whether regular Californians and their communities may get swallowed up by the state monster we’re creating to fight the federal monster—occurred to me while I was reading Gary Gerstle’s powerful 2015 history, Liberty and Coercion: The Paradox of American Government. The book breaks new ground by examining the history of governance ...
The Oxen Were the Unheralded Heroes of America’s Overland Trails
Over Long Journeys, Westward Migrants Came to Love the 'Noble' Animals They Depended on
Between 1840 and 1869, approximately 300,000 people crossed the United States on their way to settle in Oregon, find gold in California, or practice religion as they desired in Utah. The story of these emigrants, who were soon known as “overlanders,” is well known, taught in every school in the United States. Despite the popularity of Hollywood films on the experience, and even a now-classic 1971 video game, The Oregon Trail, we rarely talk about the animals that took the pioneers west. These draft animals played roles that proved them to be more than simple haulers of goods, as the overlanders ...
The Troublesome Federal Judge Who Was Never Disciplined by Congress, His Peers, or the Press
What the Career of the Nation’s Longest-Seated Jurist Tells Us About the Judicial System
Why California Calls the Public Utilities Commission Whenever We Face an Impossible Mess
In a State That Wants to Regulate Everything, the PUC Does the Work Politicians Don’t Want to Do
San Francisco Has Never Been More Pathetic—or More Powerful
Vilified by Both Conservatives and Progressives, This Poor Little Rich City’s Problems Are Now National News