Kamala Harris seems poised to exert influence over policy and legislation as vice president. In this sense, she will carry forward the evolution of the office, according to a former vice presidential chief of staff who contributed to the development of the "modern vice presidency."
Like most Americans, when Trump tries to "remember the Alamo," he gets it all wrong. His recent visit to Alamo, Texas was 240 miles south of the mission so holy to many Texans, but it was closer in spirit than Trump probably realized.
Congress and the nation have celebrated the heroic actions of Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman, who distracted a mob to give members of Congress time to reach safety. When his momentary fame fades, Goodman deserves better than another unexpected hero, Watergate security guard Frank Wills.
Historian David S. Reynolds recently published Abe: Abraham Lincoln and his Times, a cultural biography that shows how the 16th president was shaped by the many social currents swirling in the young United States.
A German historian argues that American scholars and commentators have for years been too quick to equate antidemocratic measures taken by Republicans with Hitler's seizure of dictatorial power, dismissing ample research on the nature of totalitarian regimes. The last three months have shown that America's core institutions are not weak enough to be crushed.
Hank Aaron, an all-time great of baseball and for many years its all-time leader in home runs, passed away at age 86 on January 22. Historians recall him as a player, an advocate for civil rights inside and outside the game, and a man who was uneasy being made into a symbol of progress against racism.
George Washington is celebrated for his refusal to continue past two terms as President. But his earlier actions in refusing the leadership of a military coup against the Continental Congress in 1783 put the new nation on track to have civilian leadership under law.
The Capitol riots should prompt consideration of how racism is sustained by mainstream institutions and operates through everyday patterns of thought and action, as much as in open eruptions of violence.
The threat of violence forced Joe Biden to cancel plans to travel from Wilmington to Washington by Amtrak, as he famously did during his Senate years. The decision recalls Lincoln's efforts to avoid the (possibly apocryphal) Baltimore Plot.
Journalism as a profession needs to embrace its historical role as a guardian of democracy and refuse to let objectivity work as a shield for authoritarianism; authoritarians won't accept a free press anyway.
Two darlings of the conservative movement – Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley – found themselves in hot water last week after supporting the false narrative of election fraud that inspired the Capitol rioting. It's part of a long legacy of media-anointed "serious conservatives" whose smarts have been inflated.
Rather than engage in an unproductive debate about whether Donald Trump is or is not a bona fide fascist, scholars should consider the events of January 6 (and Trump's role in inciting them) as emergent, contingent results of the interplay of factors latent in American liberal democracy.
Almost all the pundits, constitutional lawyers, and members of the professoriate are laying down their arms, largely conceding that the President has broad powers to pardon anyone in the world, with the possible exception of himself. But are they giving too much away?"
American political elites have responsed to the Capitol riot by comparing it unfavorably to something that would happen in a "banana republic." The historical record of American interference in Latin America and of our own domestic tumults shows that we may not be bananas, but have had our fair share of nuts.
Joe Biden should defend the First Amendment right to peaceable assembly by a temporary emergency order criminalizing the carrying of firearms at public protest events and make clear that the threat of force is not part of the democratic process.
It is likely that the issue of a president's ability to pardon himself will be contested in short order. A constitutional scholar of the presidency explains why such an action cannot be countenanced in a society of law.
This week was extraordinary. Historians have been working overtime to put current events in perspective. It was impossible to pick the ten best, so we're featuring a double dose of the top opinion writing by historians and about history from around the web.
Josh Hawley wrote a 2008 biography of Theodore Roosevelt balancing praise of the former president's vision of democracy with condemnation of his grasping for power. One wonders how the author of this book could have acted as the Senator did on January 6.
Black women's political organizing was a key to Joe Biden's victory and the Democratic Senate victories in Georgia; these episodes are part of a long historical tradition of activists using partisan politics to press for racial and gender equality.
A historian of abolition and an advocate of racial justice argues that historians must reject the psychological framework of some recent popular antiracist books and learn from the history of activists embodying Frederick Douglass's call for a "moral revolution" through engagement with others.
Adolf Hitler coped with the realization of incipient defeat by ordering the destruction of vital infrastructure in Germany as vengeance against a people who had, he believed, failed him. Donald Trump has been taking a similar approach to the nation's infrastructure and the COVID response (except for the border wall).
If the vice president and cabinet invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Donald Trump from the powers of the presidency, it would set a new precedent in the largely uncharted territory of dealing with Presidential incapacity.
Before this past week, too many in the GOP seemed too willing to choose the fascist option. Now they have seen what it looks like and where it leads. The question Republicans must answer is simple: Will they choose fascism anyway?
"After the 2016 election, the Civil War came for me, and there was nothing quaint about it. As a reinvigorated white supremacy began sweeping the country, I knew it was time to take the Confederates out of the closet."
Thomas Jefferson's critics have pointed out his ownership of slaves as reason to question his continued relevance as a symbol of freedom. But his commitment to religious liberty helped to prevent violent sectarian conflict and should be honored.
It's a matter of speculation whether his illness with COVID-19 has contributed to Trump's recent behavior, but it's not unlikely. It's another episode showing the need for rigorous attention to the issue of presidential incapacitation.