When a Fiery Populist Inflamed the Nation—but His Political Rivals Won the War

Over Time, the Whig Party's Moderate, Modern Agenda Trumped Andrew Jackson's Imperial Presidency

Two centuries after he served as president, Andrew Jackson remains an enduring figure both in history—the 1820s and ’30s are known as “The Age of Jackson”—and in American political conversation, with Donald Trump associating himself with Old Hickory’s nationalism and populism.

Jackson’s contemporary notoriety, however, far exceeds his actual impact. To be sure, he remains well known for his “war” on the Second National Bank of the United States and for signing the Indian Removal Act, which resulted in the forcible eviction of thousands of Native Americans from their homes to …

American Populism Shouldn’t Have to Embrace Ignorance

Rejecting Authority and Expertise Doesn't Make All Opinions Equally Worthy

Public ignorance is an inherent threat to democracy. It breeds superstition, prejudice, and error; and it prevents both a clear-eyed understanding of the world and the formulation of wise policies …

The “Crying Indian” Ad That Fooled the Environmental Movement

Behind the '70s Anti-Pollution Icon Was an Italian-American Actor—and the Beverage Industry

It’s probably the most famous tear in American history: Iron Eyes Cody, an actor in Native American garb, paddles a birch bark canoe on water that seems, at first, tranquil …

When Variety Theaters Tantalized the Frontier West

In 19th-Century Spokane, Risqué Performances Set off a Battle Over Civil Morality

In the spring of 1897, Spokane, Washington’s Spokesman-Review published an exposé of its city’s thriving red light district—known as Howard Street. The newspaper lingered on distasteful scenes in variety theaters …

How New Mexico’s “Peons” Became Enslaved to Debt

A System Inherited From Colonial Spain Kept Americans in Servitude Even After the Civil War

Imagine a time and place where a small debt—even just a few dollars—could translate into a lifetime of servitude not only for the debtor, but also for his or her …

How Americans Can Stop Fighting the Civil War

Acknowledging Tragic Loss on All Sides Could Begin a Process of Reconciliation

It began as a loving effort to heal the South’s wounds, to properly mourn the young men who gave their lives for a lost cause, and to extract dignity from …