An Indigenous Peoples History of the United States

Meaningfully Discomforting: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne. An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Audiobook. Tantor Media, 2014. Last summer, Supreme Court-watchers, indigenous rights activists, and other interested parties were shocked to learn that the United States Supreme Court re-ordered an oral hearing session in the pending landmark Carpenter v. Murphy (now Sharp v. Murphy) case. The implications of […]... Read More
Astoria

Riveting and Insightful: Peter Stark’s Astoria

Stark, Peter. Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire. New York: HarperCollins, 2014.   As someone who is mostly interested in “Civil War to Civil Rights” history, my interest (and by extension knowledge) usually stops east of the Mississippi and almost always east of the Rockies. Since moving to Oregon last year, […]... Read More
The Arrival of African slaves in 1619

Away with 1619: Reinterpreting the Origins of American Slavery

Last October, the state of Virginia kicked off its commemoration of the 400th anniversary of several key events in its early history. The festivities began with the anniversary of the founding of the House of Burgess–the first known legislative body in what would become the United States–and will continue into this year with the anniversary […]... Read More
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Uncovering “The Big One”: The Discovery and Irony of the Cascadia Subduction Zone

When the Corps of Discovery and British fur traders first pioneered the Pacific Northwest, they remarked upon the settler-friendly Willamette Valley. The story that followed is familiar to most. Settlers from the East motivated by cheap, fertile, temperate land and notions of manifest destiny spilled across the continent along the various Oregon trails to stake […]... Read More
the-terror [www.imagesplitter.net]

Into the Frozen Weirdness: AMC’s The Terror

Almost a year ago now, Concerning History launched a series entitled “Episodic History,” in which each of us expanded upon some ideas that we felt would make for riveting historically-based television. It should come as no surprise that all of us had to seriously whittle down our lists, and that further installments of this series are in the works. Imagine our surprise and enthusiasm, then, when one of Bryan’s own, cut, ideas received just the treatment we were arguing for. From its first trailer, then, we couldn’t wait to watch AMC’s drama recounting the story of the doomed Franklin arctic expedition. As we eagerly consumed each episode, however, the story The Terror chose to tell got stranger and stranger.... Read More
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Two Island Narratives, Part II: Sapelo

As a part of a troupe of teachers studying Reconstruction, perhaps the most misremembered time in America’s past, I headed to Sapelo Island off the Georgia coast. There a secluded community still lives today, descendants of the former enslaved peoples of the lowcountry south where sea-island cotton was grown for export to textile mills in places like New York, Manchester, and Liverpool. Our group had the chance to get to know the place ourselves. We enjoyed eating the Low Country Boil, a meal consisting of shrimp, potatoes, sausage, and corn in a broth, which locals had enjoyed for centuries. We swam in the warm waters and looked up at the starry night sky while thunder rolled in the distance. I quickly appreciated the natural beauty of the place, and why those who had toiled and bled in the fields would want their children and their children’s children to construct a new life there. Like the “mixed race people” of Malaga in the north, the Gullah-Geechee culture that lives on Sapelo today were likely maligned over the past century and a half as somehow inferior, incapable of caring for the land properly.... Read More
school family

Two Island Narratives, Part I: Malaga

Some of my earliest memories are of the sea breaking on the rocky cliffs of Small Point, Maine. Every summer, usually in August before the start of school, my parents would drive us up I-95 through Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, stopping only for lunch in one of a handful of locations on the way to Bath, and then out on the point past Phippsburg. The most anticipated part of the whole trip was of course  the drive up the long dirt road to the Small Point Club house which sat on a bluff overlooking a roughly three mile long beach complete with a tidal river and white cliffs off in the distance.... Read More
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A Furry Whirlwind: Netflix’s Frontier

Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century trade on the American frontier has seen a slight increase in its media depictions in recent years, and I couldn’t be happier. With such offerings as The Revenant and Taboo, the brutal misery and cutthroat business of imperial exploitation in the (by then not-so) New World have been brought compellingly to life. I was excited to learn of another addition to this genre with Netflix’s Frontier. Focusing on the struggle for dominance in the fur trade around Hudson’s Bay in the late eighteenth century, Frontier offered an intriguing possibility for exploring the changing face of empire in America after the cataclysmic shifts of the Seven Years War and American Revolution.... Read More
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Astounding Leniency: The American Civil War and Comparative Rebellions

Months ago, Kevin wrote a speculative piece reflecting on the implications of nineteenth-century concepts of ‘just war’ and their relevance today. Much of this discussion was centered around the American Civil War and the quandary of pursuing a war sharply so as to conclude it swiftly and limit suffering in the long run. Ideas of just war in the American Civil War were further complicated by the fact that the enemies of the United States government were fellow Americans. Or were they? The conflict was at its core a rebellion, and so perhaps it would be useful to consider the Union’s actions (and inactions) in that context. What were contemporary attitudes towards rebellions? What actions were considered justified in their suppression? And, most importantly, why did the United States pursue or not pursue those actions against its own rebellious citizens?... Read More