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Abraham Lincoln, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, and the Dred Scott Case

Dred Scott, an African-American slave, appealed to the Supreme Court for his freedom based on having been brought by his owners to live in a free territory. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, writing for the majority, wrote that persons of African descent could not be, nor were ever intended to be, citizens under the US Constitution, and thus the plaintiff Scott was without legal standing to file a suit.

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Who inspired President Abraham Lincoln?

If Abraham Lincoln can be credited for delivering America from the grip of Civil War-era secessionism, he stood on the shoulders of two presidential giants: the iconic 19th century visionary honored the same constitutional ideals of Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore.

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Eight fun facts about Bibles at OUP

Bibles have had a long history at our Press; in fact, Oxford’s Bible business made OUP a cornerstone of the British book trade, and, ultimately, the world’s largest university press. When you’ve been in the Bibles business for this long, you’re bound to have some interesting anecdotes. Read on for some fun facts in the history of Bibles at OUP.

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Solo Time for Cello

Eight composers whose music we should know

From Teresa Carreno to Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, this blog post features composers who experienced barriers to music education within their lifetimes, leading to their exclusion from the historical canon.

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Stars and Shadows: The Politics of Interracial Friendship from Jefferson to Obama

The politics of interracial friendship

There have been instances of interracial friendship even in the worst of times. Explore some of these noteworthy friendships, which have served as windows into the state of race relations in the United States.

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America's Book: The Rise and Decline of a Bible Civilization, 1794-1911

The Bible and American history

The recent American presidency illustrates why Scripture has been both a polarizing and a constructive force in the nation’s history. On 1 June 2020, Donald Trump made an overtly political point when he cleared peaceful demonstrators from Lafayette Square, who were protesting police violence against unarmed Black men, so that he could pose for a […]

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Thanksgiving: Behind the Pilgrim Myth

The driving force behind making Thanksgiving a national holiday was Sarah Josepha Hale, who was born in 1788 in Newport, New Hampshire. After her husband’s death, Hale turned to writing to generate money. Her novel Northwood: A Tale of New England (1827) included an entire chapter devoted to a Thanksgiving dinner. Its publication brought Hale […]

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In America, trees symbolize both freedom and unfreedom

Extralegal violence committed by white men in the name of patriotism is a founding tradition of the United States. It is unbearably fitting that the original Patriot landmark, the Liberty Tree in Boston, sported a noose, and inspired earliest use of the metaphor “strange fruit.” The history of the Liberty Tree and a related symbol, […]

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Contemporary lessons from the fall of Rome

It’s a time-honored game, and any number can play. The rules are simple: just take whatever problem is bothering you today, add the word “Rome,” and voilà. You have just discovered why the mightiest empire in Western history came to an end.

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Legal leadership and its place in America’s history and future

This past year, I wrote a book about lawyers’ service in the American Civil War, I argued that the lawyers’ part in the US and Confederate cabinets and in their respective Congresses made a civil war a little more civil, and allowed that out of horrific battle came a new respect for rule of law, as well as a new kind of positive, rights-based constitutionalism.

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