11 Broadway Musicals That Illuminate History

One unusual way to learn history is through music. Broadway musicals illuminate the past in ways that dry textbooks cannot. Examples: "Something's Rotten" -- a musical comedy about the English Renaissance, how Shakespeare stole with impunity from other writers and poets (no copyright laws).  Here are two numbers: "Welcome to the Renaissance" and "Black Death." … Continue reading 11 Broadway Musicals That Illuminate History

8 Weak Presidents and Fragmenting Political Parties, 1836-1860

Presidents Andrew Jackson, 1829-1837 and Abraham Lincoln 1861-65 were powerful -- they transformed the country, bent the nation to their will, and forced adversaries to do what they did not want to do. There are books called The Age of Jackson and The Age of Lincoln. But in the 24 years between 1836 and 1860, … Continue reading 8 Weak Presidents and Fragmenting Political Parties, 1836-1860

‘Your Wife is a Bigamist!’ — Campaign Accusation in 1828 Against Andrew Jackson

"The dishonor of dirtiest presidential campaign in history goes to the Andrew Jackson/John Quincy Adams contest of 1828." writes Larry Schwartz in Salon.com. "...Jackson squeaked by Adams in 1824 winning the popular vote but failed to gather the necessary majority of electoral votes. Jackson took the entire Southwest, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the Carolinas, 11 … Continue reading ‘Your Wife is a Bigamist!’ — Campaign Accusation in 1828 Against Andrew Jackson

Scotch-Irish, Including Andrew Jackson and Obama’s Protestant Ancestors, Helped Shape America

Forged in Ulster: During his visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland, en route to the G8 summit in Enniskillen, US President Barack Obama talked a little bit about how Ulster immigrants had a large impact on American history & culture. In an interview with the New Yorker magazine in Nov 2016 President Obama said: “I’m half … Continue reading Scotch-Irish, Including Andrew Jackson and Obama’s Protestant Ancestors, Helped Shape America

Rise of the Penny Press in the 1830s Nurtured Democracy

Jacksonian democracy was aided, beginning in the 1830s, by the rise of the penny press in cities: even working class factory folks could purchase the news of the day for one cent, subsidized by advertising. In seeking the widest possible audience of a wide variety of political beliefs, publishers of these cheap newspapers eventually sought … Continue reading Rise of the Penny Press in the 1830s Nurtured Democracy

US History of Economic Panics, Recessions, Depressions, Boom and Bust Cycles, High Unemployment, Wage Stagnation

US history has been filled with the boom and bust cycles of capitalism, also known as the business cycle -- expansions and contractions that occur repeatedly. In short, economic trauma and dislocation have occurred every 20 to 30 years. While the American economic experience has not generally been as horrific for most people as in … Continue reading US History of Economic Panics, Recessions, Depressions, Boom and Bust Cycles, High Unemployment, Wage Stagnation

Andrew Jackson Mock Trial for Crimes Against Humanity

It is 1840, and President Andrew Jackson has been charged with crimes against humanity regarding the removal of the Cherokee. In the form of a mock trial that takes place in 1840 but uses current international law, you must determine if President Andrew Jackson is guilty of this charge.Oct 4, 2012 The People v. Andrew Jackson https://www.stjoes.org/ourpages/auto/2012/10/4/57279254/jackson_trial_book.pdf Common Man of Contradictions … Continue reading Andrew Jackson Mock Trial for Crimes Against Humanity

Manifest Destiny Was One Inspiration for Coast-to-Coast American Empire

The phrase Manifest Destiny was coined by journalist John O'Sullivan, an advocate of Jacksonian democracy, in 1845. It reflected a belief that Americans had a god-given right to expand from sea to shining sea, that white American culture was superior to other cultures, and that native Americans and Mexican Americans who inhabited the land were … Continue reading Manifest Destiny Was One Inspiration for Coast-to-Coast American Empire

Those Who Harshly Judge Humans of the Past Deserve to be Harshly Judged

In contemporary times, to praise the British Empire can be viewed as pro-colonialism. To describe founding fathers as heroes without acknowledging their moral blindspots toward slaves, to say one admires US President Andrew Jackson without acknowledging his contribution to Native American genocide, or to admire President Woodrow Wilson without acknowledging his virilant white supremacy can … Continue reading Those Who Harshly Judge Humans of the Past Deserve to be Harshly Judged

After 1824 Election, What If ‘Corrupt Bargain’ Was Not Struck?

Donald Trump's favorite president is fellow populist Andrew Jackson. He restored Jackson's portrait to a place of honor in the White House, and shortly after becoming president, visited Jackson's estate, the Hermitage, near Nashville, TN. Both ran campaigns against "economic elites" and were known for emotional volatility and eccentric hairstyles. If Trump's campaign failed, the … Continue reading After 1824 Election, What If ‘Corrupt Bargain’ Was Not Struck?