Americans Have Always Celebrated Hacks and Swindlers

In 19th-Century New England, Rule-Breaking Yankees Were a Source of National Pride

Grab a burger at the James Dean diner in Prague, pay homage to the Miles Davis monument in Kielce, Poland, or stop by the Elvis fan club of Malaysia, and you’ll see how a certain brand of 1950s “cool” still shapes perceptions of America abroad. What people mean by cool can be hard to pin down, but cultural historians tend to agree on some basics: defiance, self-control, individualism, and creativity—ideals epitomized by the jazz and beat movements of the early 20th century.

Long before these characteristics were cool, however, …

Why Living in College Dorms Is an American Rite of Passage | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why Living in College Dorms Is an American Rite of Passage

Since the 17th Century, Educators Have Designed Housing to Create ‘Morally Conscious Citizens’

The residence hall in the United States has come to mark the threshold between childhood and adulthood, housing young people during a transformational time in their lives. When parents drop …

The Once-Enslaved Kentuckian Who Became the ‘Potato King of the World’ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Once-Enslaved Kentuckian Who Became the ‘Potato King of the World’

After His Emancipation, Junius Groves Walked 500 Miles to Kansas Where He Made a Fortune and Built a Community

Junius Groves started life as an enslaved person in Kentucky. By the time of his death, he would be celebrated, by those fortunate enough to know his story, as …

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 …