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 the first settlers had arrived back in 1607, they had only recently discovered that they could turn a profit growing tobacco. Tobacco production had increased 20-fold over the past two years, and agricultural land was suddenly at a premium.

Yet the surveyors, instead of laying out private estates for upwardly mobile colonists, were mostly tracing the bounds of thousands of acres of common land. …

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, …

| Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Eliza Hamilton’s Excellent Five-Month Steamboat Ride From New York to Wisconsin

In 1837, the 80-Year-Old Widow of the Late Treasury Secretary Was Delighted by the Beauty of the Nation

The musical Hamilton introduced theatergoers to Eliza Schuyler, the wife of Alexander Hamilton, and her sisters Angelica and Peggy. But there is much more to Eliza’s American life than …

How the Survivor of a 1609 Shipwreck Brought Democracy to America | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How the Survivor of a 1609 Shipwreck Brought Democracy to America

Stephen Hopkins, Colonist at Both Jamestown and Plymouth, Proposed a Government Based on Consent of the Governed

We don’t like to talk much about Jamestown. Established in 1607, it was the first permanent English settlement in the New World. But it was a shameful start to …

Why Americans Are So Skeptical of Impeachment | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why Americans Are So Skeptical of Impeachment

The Case Against Andrew Johnson in 1868 Taught Us That Trying to Remove a President Doesn't Fix the Nation’s Deeper Problems

In light of sharp disagreements about whether House Democrats should impeach President Donald Trump, it is worth noting that, by their very nature, impeachment efforts have always stirred controversy, and …