In June 1776, a little over a year after the start of the American Revolutionary War, the US Continental Congress huddled together in a hot room in Philadelphia to talk independence. Kenneth C. Davis dives into some of the lesser known facts about the process of writing the Declaration of Independence and questions one very controversial omission.
"The Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) was a US law that shut off all immigration from China to the US except for scholars, merchants, diplomats and professionals. It is where the American idea of “illegal aliens” comes from, the beginning of the country’s racist immigration policies.
At first immigration from China was limited, then Japan and Korea (1907), then the Asiatic Barred Zone (1917) and then southern and eastern Europe (1924). On top of that, Chinese and Mexicans were being driven out by violence and deportation.
That is why the US was so lily-white in the 1950s. Some think of that as the “natural” state of the country, but it was the creation of a set of racist policies that began with the Chinese Exclusion Act, policies that were not overturned till 1965."
Americans tend to think that only the South or only slave traders and slave owners benefited from slavery.
But it was not that simple. Slaves and land were the main forms of wealth in the US before 1860. Therefore slaves figured in insurance policies and bank loans. Therefore universities turned to slave owners and slave traders to raise money. Industry in the North and in Britain made money processing slave-grown tobacco, cotton and sugar from the South and the Caribbean. Railway companies used slave labour. The most profitable activity on Wall Street was – the slave trade.
"... nine months before [Rosa] Parks’ historic action, a 15-year-old teenager named Claudette Colvin did the very same thing. She was arrested, and her case led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s order for the desegregation of Alabama’s bus system.
Now 73, Claudette Colvin joins us for a rare interview along with Brooklyn College Professor Jeanne Theoharis, author of "The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks." Theoharis says Parks’ act of defiance may not have happened if not for Colvin’s nine months before.
Colvin says learning about African-American history in school inspired her act. "I could not move, because history had me glued to the seat," she recalls telling the bus driver and the police officer who came to arrest her. "It felt like Sojourner Truth’s hands were pushing me down on one shoulder and Harriet Tubman’s hands were pushing me down on another shoulder."
"Today, most citizens register to vote without regard to race or color by signing their name and address on something like a postcard. But it was not always so.
Prior to passage of the federal Voting Rights Act in 1965, Southern (and some Western) states maintained elaborate voter registration procedures whose primary purpose was to deny the vote to nonwhites. This process was often referred to as a "literacy test." But in fact, it was much more than just a reading test, it was an entire complex system devoted to denying African-Americans (and in some regions, Latinos and Native Americans) the right to vote.
The registration procedures, and the Registrars who enforced them, were but one part of an interlocking system of racial discrimination and oppression. The various state, county, and local police forces — all white of course — routinely intimidated and harassed Blacks who tried to register.
A federal judge in New York ruled Friday that the massive collection of domestic telephone data brought to light by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden is lawful, rejecting a challenge to the program by the American Civil...
Andrew Jackson was both beloved and loathed during his presidency. In this imaginary courtroom, you get to be the jury, considering and weighing Jackson’s part in the spoils system, economic depression, and the Indian Removal Act, as well as his patriotism and the pressures of the presidency. James Fester explores how time shapes our relationship to controversial historical figures.
The American flag at the Smithsonian has collected blue cotton fibers over the years, but not as many as popular legend says.
Arlis Groves's insight:
In the 1960s, the Smithsonian opted to put the flag in the only Smithsonian building that was air conditioned, thinking the cool temperature would help preserve the aging flag. But in the most extensive conservation project in the flag's history, conservationists like Thomassen-Krauss found that exhibits designed to protect the flag were in fact doing the opposite.
Between 1776 and 1887, the United States seized (stole) over 1.5 billion acres from America's indigenous people by treaty and executive order. The Invasion of America shows how by mapping every treaty and executive order during that period. It concludes with a map of present-day federal Indian reservations.
Westward Movement, or the growth of the United States, meant that the land was taken from Native Americans. This animated map helps us visualize the scope and sequence of the nation's growth and the decline of Native American lands between 1776 and 2010.
WHAT A FIND? A well-known underwater explorer believes he's found the HOLY GRAIL OF SHIPWRECKS. Sitting on the ocean floor for more than 500 years just off the coast of Haiti — possibly Christopher Columbus' Santa Maria.
Among the wreckage, Clifford says he found a cannon of 15th century design, making it difficult for the weapon to come from anything but Columbus' fleet. (WATCH)
Arlis Groves's insight:
Could it be? We'll all stay tuned to see what the experts decide.
Selected Online Works by Civil War Era African American Women Bibliography (Virtual Services and Programs, Digital Reference Section, Library of Congress) (RT @MAAHMuseum Check out @librarycongress's guide to online works by African American women...