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Showing posts from July, 2014

14th Amendment

Today is the anniversary of the passage of the 14th Amendment in 1868 which guarantees birthright citizenship in the United States.

Passed in both houses of Congress by June 1866 it took more than two years to be ratified by the states.  Every former Confederate state opposed its ratification until Congress made it a condition for readmission to the Union and the seating of southern Congressmen.  Citizenship for freedmen and women in the South opened the possibility of African American men voting and holding office, something anticipated eagerly by the Republican party, depicted here on the cover of Harper's Weekly as the amendment gained support throughout 1867.

Not everyone, of course, welcomed African American votes, particularly California Democrats who would soon push for the closure of Asian immigration to the state out of fear that the 14th Amendment would make citizens of the children of immigrants.  Below is a typical anti-Republican cartoon trading on anxieties about the 1…

Roger Williams, Religious Liberty, and the Founding of Rhode Island

If I am being completely honest, I don't know enough about 17th century New England.  In fact, whenever teaching anything outside of the 19th century I often feel like something of an impostor.  Nonetheless, I am comfortable with the basics of early English planting in New England but also realize I have a life's long reading list on Puritanism, Native American encounters, imperial wars, slavery, and witchcraft.  This week, however, I picked a book up which had not yet come to my attention, likely because the author John M. Barry is not a professional historian- we can be quite insular as we talk only to each other- but is instead a prize winning popular writer who has published on the flu pandemic of the WWI era, the 1927 Mississippi Flood, and detailed journalistic account of the political demise of House Speaker Jim Wright.  In 2012 he released this volume on Roger Williams, and it is a remarkable narrative biography which, for at least its first 100 pages, has greatly ill…