Articles on US history

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Interventionism, not isolationism, is the norm in US foreign policy – and Donald Trump’s rise will not change that. Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

America has never been truly isolationist, and Trump isn’t either

The US has never been opposed to international engagement, or even international co-operation – but it must always be co-operation on American terms.
In 1945, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, part of a behind-the-scenes policy to ensure access to oil for the U.S. and its allies. National Archives and Records Administration

Exxon’s Rex Tillerson and the rise of Big Oil in American politics

Big Oil has historically played a behind-the-scenes role on American policy and politics. No longer.
The 2007 midwinter solstice illumination of the main altar tabernacle of Old Mission San Juan Bautista, California. Rubén G. Mendoza/Ancient Editions

A sacred light in the darkness: Winter solstice illuminations at Spanish missions

At many Spanish missions in the US and Latin America, the rising sun illuminates the altar on the winter solstice or other symbolic days. To the faithful, these events meant that Christ was with them.
President Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles in 1956. National Archives

How one political outsider picked a cabinet

In 1952, military man Dwight Eisenhower was elected president without any experience in elective office. Here’s how he built his cabinet.
J. Robert Oppenheimer, often called the ‘father of the atomic bomb’ who chaired the ancestor of today’s Department of Energy, had his security clearance revoked during the ‘Red Scare’ of the 1950s. AP Photo

Trump questionnaire recalls dark history of ideology-driven science

A historian of science and technology says Trump team's request for names of Department of Energy employees working on climate change recalls worst excesses of ideology-driven science in government.
Jennie A. Brownscombe’s ‘The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth’ (1914). Wikimedia Commons

The two men who almost derailed New England’s first colonies

The Pilgrims were thankful for finally being able to vanquish Thomas Morton and Ferdinando Gorges, who spent years trying to undermine the legal basis for settlements in Massachusetts and beyond.
Agricultural Building at the Worlds Columbian Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, circa 1893. University of Maryland Digital Collections

Columbus Day: Black legend meets White City

An anthropologist tells the story of how Columbus actually came close to falling into historical obscurity, until American hubris got in the way.
Boxer Jack Johnson was relentlessly reprimanded for his arrogance and opulent lifestyle. But what was the criticism really about? Václav Soukup/flickr

The oppressive seeds of the Colin Kaepernick backlash

The controversy over Kaepernick's refusal to stand for the National Anthem isn’t a watershed moment. It's only the latest chapter in a long history of people trying to control how black people behave.

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