1-10 of 120 Results  for:

  • Political History x
Clear all

Article

US-Russian Relations before 1917  

Paul Behringer

From the American Revolution until the late 19th century, the United States and Russia enjoyed a “distant friendship,” meaning that the first interactions and perceptions between Russians and Americans were mostly positive, but the affinity for one another did not run particularly deep. The two peoples looked at each other across a wide geographic and cultural chasm. As the United States spread across the North American continent and into the Pacific, and Russia established colonies in Alaska and at Fort Ross, Russians and Americans began to encounter one another more frequently. Occasionally this trend led to tension and competition, but overall relations remained cordial, reaching a high point in the 1850s and 1860s when the United States tacitly supported Russia during the Crimean War and Russia backed the Union during the American Civil War. The goodwill culminated in the Russian decision to sell Alaska to the United States. Soon, however, differences in ideology and interests drove the two countries into a more tense and competitive relationship. Americans came to view Russians as squandering their land’s great potential under the yoke of an autocratic government and cultural “backwardness,” while Russians scoffed at America’s claims of moral superiority even as the United States expanded into an overseas empire and discriminated against Black and Asian people at home. These views of each other, combined with growing rivalry over influence in Northeast Asia, drove US-Russian relations to a low point on the eve of World War I. Many of the stereotypes about each other and the conflicts of interest, papered over briefly as allies against the Central Powers in 1917, would resurface during the Soviet period.

Article

William McKinley Jr.  

Aroop Mukharji

Born in 1843 as the seventh of nine children to a Methodist family in Niles, Ohio, William McKinley was not destined for political greatness. Much like his politics, his rise was steady and incremental, his ambition as patient as it was large. After four years serving the Union in the Civil War, McKinley returned to Ohio to start a local law practice. Following a short stint as a county prosecutor, he married, started a family, and then met with his life’s greatest tragedy: the deaths of both of his young daughters within two years of each other. Amid this immense personal turmoil, McKinley ran for Congress. He served seven terms until a Democratic challenger unseated him, enabled by gerrymandered district lines. Within a matter of months, McKinley turned around to win Ohio’s governorship twice, before becoming the nation’s twenty-fifth president in 1897. However faded he has become in historical memory, at the time of his assassination in 1901, just six months into his second presidential term, McKinley was a towering figure in US politics. He led the United States in three wars spanning two continents and was only the third US president in almost seven decades to win two consecutive terms. In foreign policy, where he left his greatest mark, McKinley changed the trajectory of US history by consolidating US control over the Caribbean, defeating a European power in war, and irreversibly expanding the US military to sustain an empire that stretched 7,000 miles into the Pacific Ocean. The costs were significant: hundreds of thousands of Filipinos dead, millions colonized under American rule, and new strategic commitments too distant to reasonably protect. It is therefore one of the greatest ironies of US presidential history that so much about McKinley’s life remains shrouded in mystery or, worse, forgotten.

Article

United States–Cuba Relations  

Asa McKercher

Since the Cuban Revolution of 1959, relations between Cuba and the United States have been marked by intense mutual hostility. This antagonism is a measure of the historically close ties between the two countries, extending back several centuries and the product of geographic proximity. Much of this long history has been marked by American efforts to control Cuba—often cast as being in Cubans’ best interests—and consequent Cuban resistance. At the same time, some Cubans have welcomed close ties with the United States, economically, culturally, and politically. Moreover, there has been considerable interchange between Americans and Cubans, from tourists looking for excitement to exiles seeking shelter north of the Florida Straits. Given the long shadow the United States has cast over Cuban history and Cuba’s place in several seminal events in US foreign policy, understanding these historical ties is vital for contextualizing the bitterness that has characterized their bilateral relationship for over half a century.

Article

The Urban League  

Adam Lee Cilli

White and Black progressives established the National Urban League (NUL) in October 1911 to meet the growing social service needs of inner-city African Americans. Under the leadership of the league’s first executive secretary, George Edmund Haynes, the NUL established its core mission and tactical posture while developing league affiliates in cities across the country. Urban League staff committed themselves to building alliances across racial and class lines to promote Black economic advancement and ensure that African Americans had access to adequate housing and health care. These services became all the more imperative as hundreds of thousands of rural Black southerners made their way to cities during the Great Migration. Urban Leaguers welcomed migrant newcomers, helped them find lodging and employment, provided vocational training courses, sponsored programs to improve health and hygiene, and performed a variety of other functions that collectively provided a social safety system in Black neighborhoods. While retaining the league’s core social service mission, Urban Leaguers broadened their civil rights goals over time as new possibilities emerged. During the mid-1930s, as the Congress of Industrial Organizations formed with the goal of unionizing all industrial workers, regardless of race or ethnicity, the league developed workers’ councils across the nation to facilitate the entry of Black workers into the labor movement. Urban Leaguers joined the March on Washington Movement during World War II to protest discriminatory hiring practices at industrial firms with defense contracts. Later, the league served as one of the “big five” civil rights organizations orchestrating the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Through these eras and up to the early 21st century, the Urban League has retained its original commitment to expanding economic opportunities for Black Americans and improving health and wellness in inner-city neighborhoods.

Article

Washington, DC  

Mary-Elizabeth B. Murphy

Since its founding as the nation’s capital in 1800, Washington, DC, has been typified by an atypical urban history—a city that was home to the federal government and a diverse population of local inhabitants. This local–federal dynamic has shaped nearly every aspect of its history. The central industry has always been the federal government, local governance has ebbed and flowed, and federal officials have exerted authority in moments of political strife. Washington is the only major US city devoted to administration rather than commerce, industry, or finance. At times, policies in the nation’s capital were envisioned as programs that could be implemented across the country, while at other moments, Washington fell behind other cities. As the nation’s capital, Washington has attracted a diverse group of residents, giving the city a distinctive, cosmopolitan presence. Washington began as a Southern city, and then shifted to become a Northern one, and by the mid-20th century, it became national and global. Since its founding, multiracial Washingtonians waged sweeping campaigns for social justice, often inspiring national movements but were tempered by the persistent lack of statehood, an ongoing struggle.

Article

Dallas  

Patricia Evridge Hill

From its origins in the 1840s, Dallas developed quickly into a prosperous market town. After acquiring two railroads in the 1870s, the city became the commercial and financial center of North Central Texas. Early urban development featured competition and cooperation between the city’s business leadership, women’s groups, and coalitions formed by Populists, socialists, and organized labor. Notably, the city’s African Americans were marginalized economically and excluded from civic affairs. By the end of the 1930s, city building became more exclusive even for the white population. A new generation of business leaders threatened by disputes over Progressive Era social reforms and city planning, the revival of the Ku Klux Klan, and attempts to organize industrial workers used its control of local media, at-large elections, and repression to dominate civic affairs until the 1970s.

Article

New York City  

Matthew Vaz

The contemporary city of New York, comprising the five boroughs of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island, covers three hundred square miles and contains almost nine million people. Often described as the center of the world, the city is home to the headquarters of the United Nations and is a hub of global media and finance. Yet New York is also a city of neighborhoods, animated by remarkably local concerns. The dense population, the complex government, the vast wealth, the archetypal urban poverty, and the intricate and impressive built environment have all taken form through a layered series of encounters among groups over the course of four centuries. The Lenape Indians, the original settlers of the area, encountered Dutch colonizers in 1624. The English seized control from the Dutch in 1664. Both the Dutch and the English imported enslaved Africans in large numbers. The natural advantages of the harbor propelled the area’s growth, attracting settlers from elsewhere in North America in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Human-created infrastructures like the Erie Canal spurred economic growth after 1825 that attracted European immigrants from western and northern Europe in the mid-19th century and Europeans from southern and eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1898, five counties were consolidated and created the five boroughs of New York City with a population surpassing three million. African Americans from the US South and Latinos from the Caribbean migrated to New York throughout the 20th century; by 1950, the city’s population was 7.8 million. After 1980, the population began to climb again with new waves of immigration from Latin America, Africa, and Asia. For more than four hundred years, the processes of conflict and cooperation have been animated by schisms and tensions of religion, ethnicity, race, and class. As groups and individuals competed for resources and power in the city, politics and governance confronted conceptual issues such as calibrating the extent of public services, the role of religion in public life, the rights of workers, and the value of living in a multiethnic and multiracial society.

Article

Milwaukee  

Amanda I. Seligman

Milwaukee means “the good land” in Anishinaabemowin, the language group of the Indigenous people who have lived in the region since the 17th century. Milwaukee is nestled between a subcontinental divide and the western shoreline of Lake Michigan. Some 10,000 years ago, the retreating Wisconsin glacier shaped the region’s topography: at sea level and relatively flat near Lake Michigan and rolling hills in the Kettle Moraine area north and west of the city’s site. The Milwaukee, Kinnickinnic, and Menomonee rivers converge in the city. The water made the land fertile and defined its promise as a transportation hub. Milwaukee grew from this rich potential into the largest and most diverse city in Wisconsin. During the 19th century, it transformed from a collection of Indigenous villages with a Metis trading post into an industrial powerhouse specialized in heavy manufacturing and brewing. European immigrants (especially from Germany and Poland) and migrants from the eastern United States staffed Milwaukee’s businesses and settled the region with farming hamlets and suburban municipalities. By the early 20th century, Milwaukee consistently ranked among the top twenty US cities by population. But because the city’s area was so compact, it was also one of the most densely populated. For half of the 20th century, Socialists governed Milwaukee. Unusually among Midwestern cities, Milwaukee’s Socialists waged a campaign to annex surrounding areas, leading to a wave of defensive suburban incorporations after World War II. In the second half of the 20th century, the third wave of the Great Migration brought large numbers of African Americans to Milwaukee’s North Side, and Mexican Americans settled permanently on the South Side. At the same time, the city and its industrial suburbs began to shed manufacturing jobs and decreased the white population. Although the suburbs maintained separate governance, Milwaukee and its surrounding counties (Ozaukee, Washington, and Waukesha) grew into an interconnected metropolitan whole. In the 21st century, the city’s population stabilized at a bit under 600,000 residents, and local government spearheaded downtown revitalization efforts. Approximately one million people lived in the surrounding counties.

Article

Antisemitism in US History  

Britt P. Tevis

Antisemitism in the United States—whether acts of violence, social exclusion, cultural vilification, or political and legal discrimination—has resulted from antidemocratic currents refracted through bigoted beliefs about Jews. Prejudiced conceptualizations of Jews positioned them as outsiders to the nation, emphasizing Jews’ refusal to accept the supremacy of Christ; depicting Jews to be racially distinct (i.e., inferior or dangerous); and imagining Jews as greedy, dirty, untrustworthy, scheming, manipulative, powerful, and dangerous. Antisemitism has consistently been (and continues to be) connected with anti-Black racism, xenophobia, and misogyny. Throughout US history, non-Jews deployed bigoted ideas about Jews for personal, professional, social, and/or political gain. As a result, with degrees of variation, Jews in the United States endured personal hardships, faced collective discrimination, and confronted political intolerance.

Article

Community-Based Organizations  

Amanda I. Seligman

Community-based organizations (CBOs) have been and remain a common vehicle for delivering services and promoting local improvement in the United States. CBOs were a subset of voluntary organizations, which the 19th-century French observer Alexis de Tocqueville saw as central to American democracy. They complemented the work of government. Since at least the 19th century, in US history, people have formed, joined, and volunteered for CBOs. However, historians have often taken for granted the existence of specific organizations and have not done much to explain them as a general phenomenon. CBOs are often treated as relevant actors in historical scholarship, but their larger institutional and collective history awaits a new synthesis. Historians should begin by explaining the development of different kinds of CBOs. The main types of CBOs are social service organizations, autonomous organizations, networked organizations, and Alinsky-style organizations CBOs. Settlement houses were the most visible form of social service organizations in the 19th century. Among membership organizations, two types predominated: CBOs whose individual histories were primarily autonomous and those that were formally allied with other similar groups. Some connected groups were created within a network, and others developed relationships as they grew. The work of Saul Alinsky (1909–1972), often considered the “father of community organizing” in the United States, was particularly important. Alinsky practiced and promulgated a form of professional organizing that centered on identifying local leaders and helping them create sustainable, power-oriented CBOs.