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Articles on US history

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Anti-Catholic riots, like this one in Philadelphia in 1844, worried Canadians. H. Bucholzer via Library of Congress

Canada has long feared the chaos of US politics

‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ were the founding principles of the US. In Canada, the goals are ‘Peace, Order, and good Government.’
Parents and activists who support transgender rights rally before a school board meeting on Aug. 10, 2021, in Ashburn, Virginia. Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Trans people have a long history in Appalachia – but politicians prefer to ignore it

The ongoing debate over transgender rights in rural America frames transness as a nascent movement, ignoring a long undercurrent of transgender history that is all but forgotten.
These statues of enslaved young boys are part of a modern-day depiction of southern plantation life at the Whitney Museum in Louisiana. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Modern-day culture wars are playing out on historic tours of slaveholding plantations

The romanticized notions of Southern gentility are increasingly at odds with historical reality as the lives, culture and contributions of the enslaved are becoming integral on tours of plantations.
A dairy barn in Waitsfield, Vermont, built circa 1890. Thomas Visser

Why are barns painted red?

Barns are practical buildings, designed to safeguard farm animals and equipment. Why are so many of them painted to stand out from the landscape?
Sign at a boat ramp on Lake Mead, near Boulder City, Nevada, Aug. 13, 2021. The lake currently is roughly two-thirds empty. AP Photo/John Locher

As climate change parches the Southwest, here’s a better way to share water from the shrinking Colorado River

A Western scholar proposes allocating water from the Colorado River based on percentages of its actual flow instead of fixed amounts that exceed what’s there – and including tribes this time.
A gun rights advocate walks through the rotunda of the Kentucky Capitol. Some lawyers argue that the 1689 English Bill of Rights created the legal basis for public carry of weapons in the U.S. Bryan Woolston/Getty Images

Why are medieval weapons laws at the center of a US Supreme Court case?

Many gun rights advocates claim that the right to carry guns is a universal right that has spanned centuries and nations. History tells a different story.
Voting rights activists protest voter restriction laws being passed in states across the country, in Washington, D.C., July 15, 2021. Alex Wong/Getty Images

The first battle in the culture wars: The quality of diversity

Americans tend to think of diversity in demographic terms, but it has a qualitative element to it that reflects a fundamental battle between segregation and integration.
A man fishes the head of a statue of Queen Victoria from the Assiniboine River in Winnipeg. Her statue and a statue of Queen Elizabeth were toppled and vandalized on Canada Day. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kelly Geraldine Malone

‘History wars’ in the U.S. and Canada provoked by a racial reckoning with the past

Movements that challenge former national icons demonstrate the importance of history-making in an age of racial reconciliation. But ‘history wars’ won’t get us anywhere.

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