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Obama’s Leadership Gap

By Elvin Lim
For after endorsing the idea of the mosque near Ground Zero and resisting the path of least resistance, a day later, the President back-tracked, saying, “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right that people have that dates back to our founding.” (As Kerry was for the Iraq war before he was against it.) Well done, Polonius.

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Martin Luther King, Jr., Rhetorically Speaking

Each year on the third Monday of January, we’re reminded of the practice of civil disobedience, of overcoming (and sometimes succumbing to) overwhelming adversities over which we have but marginal control, and of the power that language has to effect change in the world.

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Republicans 9780199936625

Andrew Johnson: a little man in a big job

If it were not for his impeachment on 24 February 1868, and the subsequent trial in the Senate that led to his acquittal, Andrew Johnson would probably reside among the faded nineteenth century presidents that only historical specialists now remember. Succeeding to the White House after the murder of Abraham Lincoln in April 1865, Johnson proved to be a presidential failure […]

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Wilberforce University: a pioneering institution in African American education

What do opera singer Leontyne Price, activist Victoria Gray Adams, civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin, and Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson have in common? They all attended or graduated from Wilberforce University. Located outside of Dayton, Ohio, Wilberforce was the first institution of higher education to be owned and operated by African Americans.

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The Importance of History

by David Brion Davis I’m concerned with the erosion of interest in history — the view expressed by even some leading teachers and intellectuals that we should “let bygones be bygones,” “free” ourselves from the boring and oppressive past, and concentrate on a fresh and better future. I’m passionately committed to the cause that distinguishes […]

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To sell a son… Uncle Tom’s Cabin

On 5 June 1851, the abolitionist journal National Era began running a serial by the wife of a professor at Bowdoin College. A deeply religious and well-educated white woman, Harriet Beecher Stowe was an ardent opponent of slavery. As she wrote to the journal editor, Gamaliel Bailey: “I feel now that the time is come when even a woman or a child who can speak a word for freedom and humanity is bound to speak… I hope every woman who can write will not be silent.” The work, eventually titled Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Or Life Among the Lowly, became a national sensation.

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Writing and recording with scrapbooks

By Ellen Gruber Garvey
May 5 is National Scrapbooking Day. Like National Fig Newton Day or National Golf Month, its purpose is mainly commercial. It was unsurprisingly started by an album company. Scrapbook making is hugely popular and profitable. Stores that sell scrapbooking supplies use the day to sponsor scrapping gatherings or crops where scrapbookers — nearly all women — get together to spread their projects out at tables with equipment for diecutting, embossing, distressing paper to make it look old, and sharing tips about layout and technique as they paste family pictures and memorabilia into their scrapbooks.

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Do you know Shakespeare’s American career?

By Alden T. Vaughan and Viriginia Mason Vaughan
Although England had colonies in Virginia and Bermuda before William Shakespeare died in 1616, he never came to America. But no Englishman ever had such a triumphant posthumous migration to America as did Shakespeare: in books (by him and about him), in performances of his dramas on virtually every stage from coast to coast, in school and college curricula from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first, in Broadway musicals, in “blackface” minstrel shows, in summer festivals, in stuffed dolls, trinkets, key rings, and tea cups. Shakespeare in America is multifaceted and ubiquitous.

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Holiday party conversation starters from OUP

The time for holiday dinner parties is approaching. Bring more than a smile and a sweater to your next soiree. Offer your family and friends the most powerful libation: knowledge. Here are some gems that you can drop to keep the conversation sparkling.

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