The Dazzling 1830 Defense of a Strong Federal Government

New England Statesman Daniel Webster Found Religion in Centralized National Power When it Served His Region’s Interests

For generations, school children memorized the ending to Daniel Webster’s “Second Reply to Hayne,” delivered during the famous Webster-Hayne debate of January 1830. This most-famous-of-debates began in a modest fashion, with an argument over westward expansion and morphed into a discussion of tariffs and then nationalism versus states’ rights. Over time, the discussion came to symbolize something much more about American unity, as Webster’s soaring defense of nationalism and American nationhood, crowned with the words “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable,” became a civics lesson in the …

Frederick Douglass’s Love-Hate Relationship With America

Historian David Blight Tackles the Great Abolitionist's Contradictions and His Enduring Legacy

From his youth, as a slave growing up in antebellum Maryland, Frederick Douglass saw the double-ness of American life. He recognized the gulf between the nation’s enlightened principles and its …

The Midwest Farmers Movement That Challenged Gilded Age Capitalism

In the 19th Century, the Grange Was an Agricultural Brotherhood That Sought to Foster Mutual Self-Reliance and Free Themselves From Middlemen and Monopolies

Perhaps you’ve seen them on a leisurely weekend drive through the countryside—small white structures with the sign “Grange Hall.” Although the Grange is now a mere shadow of its …

In Whose God Do Americans Trust?

How the Religious Right Projected Evangelical Conservatism Onto the Founding Fathers

Charles Bennett, a Democratic Congressman from Jacksonville, Florida, was afraid of communism. In July 1955, he spoke of his concerns on the floor of the House of Representatives. “In these …

How Dodge City Became the Ultimate Wild West

Fake News and Smoking Guns Made the Kansas Town a Symbol of Frontier Lawlessness

Everywhere American popular culture has penetrated, people use the phrase “Get out of Dodge” or “Gettin’ outta Dodge” when referring to some dangerous or threatening or generally unpleasant situation. The …