How the Lowly Mosquito Helped America Win Independence

The Blood-Sucking Insect Has Played a Leading Role in the Rise and Fall of Empires Throughout History

In recent months, millions of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have been at work spreading the Zika virus in South and Central America. This summer, millions more, all capable of conveying the virus, will flit and bite throughout the southern U.S. Congress just approved funding to battle its spread. This is not the first time a mosquito-borne virus has broken loose in the Americas and it will not likely be the last. Indeed, mosquitoes and viruses have shaped the history of our hemisphere in surprising ways for centuries.

Before 1492, Aedes aegypti did …

Let’s Not Pretend That ‘Hamilton’ Is History

America's Founders Have Never Enjoyed More Sex Appeal, but the Hit Musical Cheats Audiences by Making Democracy Look Easy

Hamilton is the hottest show on Broadway, filled with hip-hop songs, R&B rhythms, and tri-cornered hats. Its multi-racial cast portrays the pantheon of Revolutionary greats, and for many a starry-eyed …

America Is Still Fundamentally a British Colony

Adrian Wooldridge, an editor and columnist at The Economist, says that America has defined itself by accepting or rejecting elements of British culture. He spoke at a Smithsonian/Zócalo “What It …

Does the British Empire Still Have a Grip on America?

From the Coins We Count to the Democracy We Practice, the Mother Country’s Influence Is Holding Strong in Our Demographic Whirlpool

In 1776, on the brink of his first battle with British troops after America declared independence, George Washington gave a spirited defense of breaking from British rule. “The fate of …

Ben Franklin Was One-Fifth Revolutionary, Four-Fifths London Intellectual

The Enterprising Philadelphian Was a Longtime Royalist and a Late-Blooming Rebel Who Infused the American Project with English Ideals

Two hundred and fifty years ago, in February 1766, Benjamin Franklin, the most famous American in London, addressed the British House of Commons. His aim, which he achieved triumphantly, was …

The Laptops That Powered the American Revolution

Always on the Go, Our Founding Fathers Waged Their War of Words From the Mahogany Mobile Devices of Their Time

Delegate to the Continental Congress. Commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. General Washington’s aide-de-camp. Secretary of state. President of the United States. Secretary of the treasury. During their lifetimes, Thomas Jefferson, …