A New History of ProhibitionHow the ban on booze gave rise to prejudiced policing, the penal system, and the modern American right wing.
Federalist No. 2The text of Publius’ article on America’s national character—with a commentary on its relevance to the immigration debate today.
How the Nuremberg Trial Bore Witness to the Nazis’ Worst CrimesOn the 70th anniversary of the world’s most famous trial, the prosecutors’ wise approach still offers a lesson for us.
How Did American Slavery End?History of American Slavery, Episode 9: The long process of emancipation.
The Banality of GoodWhy individuals who rescued Jews during World War II found it so difficult to explain their motives.
Slavery Myths DebunkedThe Irish were slaves too; slaves had it better than Northern factory workers; black people fought for the Confederacy; and other lies, half-truths, and irrelevancies.
History’s True WarningHow our misunderstanding of the Holocaust offers moral cover for the geopolitical disasters of our time.
The Case of the Piglet’s PaternityThe 1642 bestiality trial of New Haven colonist George Spencer reveals the horrifying growing pains of our modern justice system.
The First Victim of Sept. 11He was likely the first person killed, but his influence was felt that entire terrible day—online.
The Best IntentionsAfter the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Manhattan Project scientists tried to advocate for nuclear de-escalation—instead, they unwittingly abetted the Vietnam War.
To Do No Harm?History of American Slavery, Episode 7: What modern medicine gained from slavery, and how slaveholders sought to legitimize their ideology through science.
Picking Cotton Under the Pushing SystemBy the 19th century, systematic violence had become an economic necessity on America’s cotton frontier.
When Cotton Became KingHistory of American Slavery, Episode 6: The rise of the 19th-century cotton economy brings about a powerful and frightening turn for the worse.
The Road Trip That Made the Modern American Highway PossibleHow a group of enterprising auto executives convinced the nation to pave its dusty paths.
Masters of the AtlanticThe forgotten contest between colonists and seafaring Indians for command of the American coast.
When People Flee to America’s ShoresWe are a nation of immigrants and refugees. Yet we always fear who is coming next.
At Home With HitlerLife’s scathing 1939 feature on Hitler’s design sensibilities caused a reader outpouring that spanned from Hitler fan mail to wild conspiracy theories.
How Do You Write History for Teenagers?M.T. Anderson writes erudite books about serious topics—and young adults love them.
Runaway RailroadHistory of American Slavery, Episode 8: Our sometimes mythical memory of the Underground Railroad, and why the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 propelled the country toward war.
Rebuilding Pontchartrain ParkHurricane Katrina destroyed the neighborhood where I grew up. I’m still battling Big Easy politics to make it great again.
Vox’s VictoriansDoes playing dress-up really give you a sense of what the past was like? Of corset doesn’t.
Why They FledUnderground Railroad operator Sydney Howard Gay’s meticulous guestbook reveals how and why enslaved men and women risked everything to escape north.
End of the LineAfter Katrina, the second line became a symbol of New Orleans’ resilience. But the survival of the parades—and the neighborhoods the revelers called home—is far from assured.
“Good Breeders”During the antebellum period, enslaved women wielded their reproductive capital and fought off white encroachment on their sexual health.
What Happened Here?I’m a historian who knows almost nothing about the history of my town. I’m setting out to remedy that.