Americans Have Always Celebrated Hacks and Swindlers

In 19th-Century New England, Rule-Breaking Yankees Were a Source of National Pride

Grab a burger at the James Dean diner in Prague, pay homage to the Miles Davis monument in Kielce, Poland, or stop by the Elvis fan club of Malaysia, and you’ll see how a certain brand of 1950s “cool” still shapes perceptions of America abroad. What people mean by cool can be hard to pin down, but cultural historians tend to agree on some basics: defiance, self-control, individualism, and creativity—ideals epitomized by the jazz and beat movements of the early 20th century.

Long before these characteristics were cool, however, …

In a Raucous Country, Our Sense of Unity Has Often Emerged Through Conflict | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

In a Raucous Country, Our Sense of Unity Has Often Emerged Through Conflict

A Diverse Nation, Built on Waves of Immigration, Has Found That Getting Along Is Not Always Easy

Americans of wildly disparate backgrounds have managed to find common ground over the course of the country’s history. But the process of cohering has been haphazard, raucous, messy and cruel, …

Distrust of Science Is as American as Apple Pie | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Distrust of Science Is as American as Apple Pie

Our Belief in Equality and Passion for Politics Increase Our Suspicion of Expertise

Fifty years ago, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module and became the first humans to walk on the moon.

It was this …

Why Poor Americans Are So Patriotic

Even in Hard Times, Pride in Country Offers Comfort, Security, and the Hope That Life Will Get Better

Why do the worst-off American citizens love their country so much?

Patriotism may be defined as a belief in the greatness, if not superiority, of one’s country relative to others. Depending …

California, Let’s Celebrate July 4 by Declaring Independence

With the U.S. Mired in Midlife Crisis, It's Time to Put the Golden State First

Dear America,

I suppose I should wish you happy birthday. But I’m just not feeling it.

You and I, the United States and California, used to be pretty darn close—“indivisible” was your …

The Circus Spectacular That Spawned American Giantism

How the “Greatest Show on Earth” Enthralled Small-Town Crowds and Inspired Shopping Malls

When Barnum and Bailey’s “Greatest Show on Earth” rolled into American towns in the 1880s, daily life abruptly stopped. Months before the show arrived, an advance team saturated the …