I recall the moment when I first encountered the existence of the so-called Corwin amendment of 1861. It happened by chance in an undergraduate political science class on constitutional law. The textbook contained a brief synopsis of the rediscovery and revival of the 27th amendment, ratified in 1992 some two centuries after its congressional adoption.
Just after eight o’clock in the evening on 17 June 2015, 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof walked into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, carrying a semiautomatic handgun. He sat with 12 parishioners and their pastor, South Carolina state senator Rev. Clementa Pinkney, for about an hour, as they prayed and read from the Bible.
Thomas Jefferson has had a rough few years. Since DNA established beyond a reasonable doubt that he fathered children with his slave Sally Hemings, Jefferson has been pushed into the shadows and forced to watch as his political rivals John Adams and Alexander Hamilton enjoy the limelight.
David Brundage’s Irish Nationalists in America employs no sleight of hand in its title. It is a short, well-crafted new survey of Irish nationalists in the United States from the late 18th century to the close of the 20th that is more than the sum of its parts.
In 1850 Abraham Lincoln’s most celebrated rival, Stephen Douglas of Illinois, delivered an impassioned speech in the United States Senate.
Sean Wilentz has become our generation’s foremost historian as public intellectual, positioning himself as a blend of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and Richard Hofstadter, the historical giants of the mid-20th-century era of consensus. Wilentz, however, lives in what another thoughtful historian, Daniel T. Rodgers, has called an ‘age of fracture’.
This timely biography depicts a persistent moderate who deplored North-South sectional polarization and feared that jousting between anti-slavery and pro-slavery forces endangered the Union. Edward Everett worked instead to keep the divisive slavery issue out of national politics.
For many of us, the ongoing carnage in Syria is a self-evident humanitarian crisis. We do not need to be convinced that the children drowning at sea, the women and men, young and old, begging for entry into any country that will accept them are worthy of our help.
Matthew Karp’s This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy seeks to explain the worldview of elite Southern slave-owners in the antebellum era.
Sometimes, when another work on the Civil War, slavery, and emancipation lands on one’s desk, there is a natural tendency to wonder if we actually need it. What is left to say, the historian may ask, about Lincoln, Congress, and emancipation? And then a tragedy like Charlottesville in August 2017 occurs.