The Great Depression Will Not Help Us Solve the COVID-19 Downturn

The Stories of Past Economic Crises Are Nuanced, Complex, Messy, and Don’t Point to an Obvious Path Forward

Unemployment levels not seen since the 1930s have prompted journalists and pundits in the U.S. to look back to previous eras—particularly the Great Depression—for lessons on how to escape the current economic crisis. What are the main lessons that historians and economists have learned from previous recessions, and how might they be applied by policymakers in the time of COVID-19? Unfortunately, there are few straightforward answers. Previous economic eras, when understood with all of their nuance, complexity, messiness, and ambiguity, do not point to an obvious path ahead.

As a …

When American Politicos First Weaponized Conspiracy Theories

Outlandish Rumors Helped Elect Presidents Jackson and Van Buren and Have Been With Us Ever Since

From claims that NASA faked the moon landing to suspicions about the U.S. government’s complicity in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Americans love conspiracy theories. Conspiratorial rhetoric in …

Why Do So Many Public Buildings in the U.S. Look Like Greek Temples?

In the Architectural Void of a New Nation, William Strickland Borrowed from Ancient Athens to Express America's Democratic Ethos

President Andrew Jackson took a keen interest in the construction of the federal mint in Philadelphia, a grand, columned edifice, inspired by the temples of ancient Greece, that opened in 1833. Jackson was not a man …

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, …

Donald and Bernie, Meet Andrew Jackson

The Seventh President Stoked the Anti-Elitist Rancor That Is Now Engulfing the 2016 Election

We hear a lot about populism these days. Throughout this primary season, headlines across the country have proclaimed the successes of the “populist” contenders, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Without …