Archive | November, 2016

Who Were the Know-Nothings?

Americans of our day who oppose immigration and reject science are often compared to the “Know-Nothing” party, which had a brief heyday in the decade before the Civil War.  But the comparison is unfair to the Know-Nothings, who were actually considerably more interesting. The Know-Nothing, or “American,” party came into being at a time of […]

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Fantasies of a Slave Empire

The mid-19th century in America was a time of exuberant optimism.  We had defeated Mexico, and annexed half of its land.  We were the masters of half a continent, who had driven its original inhabitants off their ancestral territories and confined them in ever-shrinking enclaves of poverty and insignificance. There seemed to be no limit […]

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The Limits of Human Decency

We may never know how Thomas Stevenson Drew lost his fortune, after rising to the position of Governor of Arkansas, but the available sources seem to show that he was a genuinely decent man.  He spent his life in efforts at conciliation and compromise; there is no record of his being involved in any of […]

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