Inspired by the 11 Tony awards won by the smash Broadway hit Hamilton, last month I wrote about Alexander Hamilton as the father of the US national debt and discussed the huge benefit the United States derives from having paid its debts promptly for more than two hundred years. Despite that post, no complementary tickets to Hamilton have arrived in my mailbox. And so this month, I will discuss Hamilton’s role as the founding father of American central banking.
Before going into battle, Roman generals would donate a goat to their favorite god and ask their neighborhood temple priest to interpret a pile of pigeon poop to predict if they would take down the Greeks over on the next island. Americans in the nineteenth century had fortune tellers read their hands read and phrenologists check out the bumps on their heads. Statistics came along by the late 1800s, then “scientific polls” which did something similar.
“In America,” the filmmaker Francois Truffaut once wrote, “politics always overlaps show business, as show business overlaps advertising.” Indeed, as the Republicans and Democrats head into the fall campaign, the spectacle of celebrity politics will be on full display.
On this day on 28 August 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech left an indelible mark on American history and the world. His universal cry for a more humane and united world became a source of inspiration for all.His speech and the Civil Rights Movement were an important part of the broader peace movement.
Today, August 26th, is Women’s Equality Day which commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, granting women the right to vote. This day reflects the culmination of a movement which had begun in the 1830s when rising middle-class American women, with an increasing educational background, began to critique the oppressive systems of the early 19th century.
This year, Americans celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service. On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act. The bill culminated decades of effort by a remarkable generation of dedicated men and women who fought to protect the nation’s natural wonders for the democratic enjoyment of the people.
Donald Trump’s mantra, to “make America great again,” plays on the word “again,” and is presumably meant to evoke among his supporters a return to an earlier, more bountiful, time. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, it all depends on what the word “again” means. According
Virtually every American over 35 who had access to a television set in the waning years of the Reagan Administration is familiar with the PDFA’s handiwork. The frying pan with a sizzling egg stand-in for “your brain on drugs.” The stern, middle-aged father confronting his son over the boy’s pot stash, only to be told, “I learned it by watching you!”
Slogan-wise, this year’s presidential campaign gives us Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” and Hillary Clinton’s “Stronger Together” and “I’m with Her.” Trump’s slogan is a call to bring something back from the past. Clinton’s are statements of solidarity.
If you were accused of a crime that you did not commit, how confident are you that you would be found innocent? And what injuries and injustices could you endure before your innocence was finally proven?
As a historian of philanthropy, I have wrestled with how to bring historical perspectives to my my own gifts of time and money. I study philanthropists in North America, the British Isles, and the Caribbean in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The distant past, you might think, and of little concern to our philanthropic practices today.
As my family gazed down on the stratified color bands of geological history in the Grand Canyon, snow and ice lined each ridge, and made each step on the path going down a dangerous adventure, highlighting the glorious drama of the miles-deep gorge. It was dizzying and frightening and awe-inspiring.
have not yet seen Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway show Hamilton. I feel badly about this for three reasons. First, Miranda is a 2002 Wesleyan graduate, a loyal and generous alumnus who gave a great commencement speech in 2015 and remains solidly committed to the university. Second, the music and lyrics are, quite simply, amazing. Third, as an economic historian, it is heartening to see one of America’s economic heroes make it to Broadway.
We are constantly told that we live in the Information Age. “Everyone has a smart phone.” “Over twenty-five percent of Americans have college degrees.” “Over one-third of the African American community now lives in the Middle Class, with a high school or better
As students in Columbia University’s OHMA program we are often urged to consider Oral History projects that not only serve to archive interviews for future use, but that “do something.”
The primaries, the conventions, and the media have focused so much attention on the presidential candidates that it’s sometime easy to forget all the other federal elections being held this year, for 34 seats in the Senate and 435 in the House (plus five nonvoting delegates). The next president’s chances of success will depend largely on the congressional majorities this election will produce.