American History

Sarah Osborn: Early American Evangelical, Part II

Sarah Osborn— February 9, 1752, Sabbath evening Ah, Lord, how deceitful do I find my heart to be. How often have I thought I desired nothing more of this world’s goods, but just daily food and raiment and wherewith to render to everyone their due. Yea, I have once and

Continue reading…

Sarah Osborn: Early American Evangelical, Part I

Catherine Brekus— What can the story of an eighteenth-century woman’s life tell us about the rise of evangelical Christianity in America? This is the story of Sarah Osborn, a woman born three centuries ago, and the strange yet familiar world in which she lived. Strange, because she rejected many of the

Continue reading…

Reconciling Deism and Puritanism in Benjamin Franklin

Thomas S. Kidd— Americans incessantly debate the role of religion in our nation’s origins. Was America founded as a Christian nation? Or was the American Revolution mostly championed by Enlightenment skeptics? Some of the Founders, such as George Washington, spoke highly of religion, but their personal beliefs were unclear. The

Continue reading…

The First Professional American Novelist

Wayne Franklin— It’s a good story, but will it sell? It’s the rare young writer who doesn’t fantasize about the best seller that would make her career. The truth of the matter, though, is that very few published writers actually support themselves by what they write. When I was a

Continue reading…

Finding the Future of Environmentalism in its Past

Benjamin Heber Johnson— Most environmental protections are predicated on the use of state power. When Americans feared that a species would soon be pushed over the brink of extinction, they passed laws forbidding or limiting hunting it; when they valued an area for the serene majesty of its old-growth timber,

Continue reading…

Benjamin Franklin on Immigration

To celebrate the publication of The Papers of Benjamin Franklin: Volume 42 this month, we’re highlighting the founding father’s opinions on immigration as found in his letters and pamphlets. The following excerpt is taken from his pamphlet “Information to Those Who Would Remove to America.” Benjamin Franklin— With Regard to Encouragements for

Continue reading…

Looking Back at the First World War

Today marks the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I. To commemorate the day, we sat down with Bruno Cabanes, author of August 1914: France, the Great War, and a Month that Changed the World Forever, to discuss what he discovered about the war through his research and

Continue reading…

How Erskine Childers Became My Friend

Karen M. Paget— I met Erskine Childers, a former officer of the National Student Association and a distinguished United Nations official, long after he died. If that seems impossible, let me explain. I came to know the young Erskine Childers through letters left behind in the United States National Student

Continue reading…

The New Power of Popular Protest

Nathan Stoltzfus— The new administration’s condemnation of dissent and the arrogation of more and more power in the president’s hands have made street protest and its images more forceful. The president made his way to power by creating images of himself with broad brush strokes vague enough to appeal to

Continue reading…

Closing the Courthouse Doors to Challenges to the Trump Presidency

Erwin Chemerinsky— The first weeks of the Trump presidency demonstrate that the federal judiciary must be available as an essential check to enforce the Constitution. Already many lawsuits have been filed against President Trump and his administration, such as for violating the “emoluments clauses” of the Constitution, for the travel

Continue reading…