Excerpt: Radical Relations, by Daniel Winunwe Rivers

rivers_radical_PBIn Radical Relations: Lesbian Mothers, Gay Fathers, and Their Children in the United States since World War II, Daniel Winunwe Rivers offers a previously untold story of the American family: the first history of lesbian and gay parents and their children in the United States. Beginning in the postwar era, a period marked by both intense repression and dynamic change for lesbians and gay men, Rivers argues that by forging new kinds of family and childrearing relations, gay and lesbian parents have successfully challenged legal and cultural definitions of family as heterosexual. These efforts have paved the way for the contemporary focus on family and domestic rights in lesbian and gay political movements.

In the following excerpt from Radical Relations (pp. 153-157), Rivers shares the stories of children who grew up in lesbian feminist families in the United States during the 1970s, exploring some of the particular challenges faced by those living in rural, conservative areas.


The Experiences of Children in Lesbian Feminist Households: A Generation of Bridge Workers

As the children of lesbian mothers and gay fathers had in previous eras, the children of lesbian feminist families often acted as mediators between their families and a larger society that saw their homes as deviant. Unlike in previous eras, however, the children of lesbian feminist families in the 1970s negotiated the distance between radically open lesbian families and a dominant heterosexual society. Whereas in earlier decades, children of lesbian mothers had moved between their families and mainstream heterosexual society tacitly, the children of lesbian households in the 1970s were much more visible because their families demanded the right to openly exist. These children were bicultural in that they belonged to a vocal oppositional minority culture but also had to operate within the dominant culture that questioned the viability of their families. These children grew up in lesbian households that were more assertive than those of earlier decades, but compared to children of the later lesbian and gay baby boom, they still found their home and family lives to be very separate from mainstream society.

Children who attended public schools in rural, often conservative areas were often on the frontlines of cultural change, negotiating the unmitigated homophobia they encountered at school or elsewhere and the radical lesbian feminist principles they learned at home. Many of them had been uprooted from a more anonymous urban environment into a rural one where all eyes were on their families. For some children, these conflicts proved stressful. Adrian Hood and her mother, Alix Dobkin, moved from New York City to Schoharie, New York, when Adrian was almost five. Alix and her partner, Liza, were out lesbians, and Adrian remembers that older children called her “lezzie” while other children teased her on the school bus, saying that her mother and Liza “looked like boys.” Eventually Adrian returned to Manhattan to live with her father.[1]

Similarly, an eleven-year-old child growing up in the rural area around the Northern California town of Willits in 1977 later described the tenuous acceptance and fear that characterized the school experience of many children living on lesbian land: “When I first moved to the land I was very scared. The next day Sage enrolled me in school. That year was fine. . . . The next year wasn’t as good as the first.” Her explanation of what happened that second year reflects the lack of safety these children often felt in their relationships with their peers: “I had made friends with Chris, who was in the 6th grade. . . . I told her about Sage and the other women I live with and that they were lesbians. She promised that she would not tell a soul. And she didn’t until one day we got into a fight. Then she told her friend and it got around school.” She went on to describe her mother’s efforts to mitigate the stigma the child was suffering at school: “It was very bad until Sage told my teacher, who is a man, that she wanted me to have a woman at school to talk to. Now I see Mrs. Norman, the school nurse. She is a big help to me. Now it is not so bad. Maybe they will get bored and stop.”[2]

What was true for women and children transplanted from urban areas to rural communes was also true for individual lesbian feminist families living in more rural, conservative areas. A self-identified radical feminist lesbian mother, speaking anonymously in 1983, described her daughter’s decisions to be open or not about their home life in the public schools of a “small Southern town” in the 1970s as “extremely tricky.”[3] Children of lesbian households also had to mediate between hostile, and often homophobic, local authorities and their families. Kate Alfaro, who lived with her mother in Searsburg, in rural upstate New York, remembers the police coming to her house after she wrecked her car in 1986. Alfaro told her mother and her mother’s lover to stay in bed because she was terrified of the reaction of the small-town police to her mother’s lesbianism. Alfaro, who felt isolated in the rural community, remembers finding solace in relationships with teenagers from heterosexual counterculture families who did not care that her mother was a lesbian and who also felt like misfits in the rural, conservative setting.[4]

Although children of urban lesbian households often enjoyed larger support networks that might include other children growing up in lesbian families, they nonetheless faced Continue reading ‘Excerpt: Radical Relations, by Daniel Winunwe Rivers’ »

  1. [1] Adrian Hood and Alix Dobkin, interview with author, New York, NY, April 12, 2005. See also Majoie Canton and Rogi Rubyfruit, “Alix Dobkin and Liza Cowan on Money, Motherhood, and Mutes,” Lesbian Tide, July/August 1977, 12.
  2. [2] Lesbian Connection, March 1977, 11.
  3. [3] “A Lesbian Tells Her Daughters to Forget Labels,” Poughkeepsie Journal, March 27, 1983, 28.
  4. [4] Kate Alfaro, interview with author, Ithaca, NY, July 29, 2005.

New Books for Fall 2015

We’ve got loads of great new books scheduled for publication this fall! To see what’s in store, scroll through the interactive catalog above or visit our website to see what’s new in subject areas that interest you. All fall books are now available for pre-order. Most books will be available as e-books, too, at the time of print publication. If you want to stay on top of what’s new each month in your favorite subject area, sign up for our monthly eNews announcements.

Here’s a sample of what’s in store. Browse the catalog for more great reads to look forward to.

St. Francis of America: How a Thirteenth-Century Friar Became America's Most Popular Saint, by Patricia AppelbaumLittle Rivers and Waterway Tales: A Carolinian's Eastern Streams, by Bland SimpsonFlorynce "Flo" Kennedy: The Life of a Black Feminist Radical, by Sherie M. RandolphCold Harbor to the Crater: The End of the Overland Campaign, edited by Gary W. Gallagher and Caroline E. JanneyAbortion after Roe, by Johanna SchoenHaitian Connections in the Atlantic World: Recognition after Revolution, by Julia GaffieldBeans and Field Peas: a SAVOR THE SOUTH® cookbook, by Sandra A. Gutierrez

Excerpt: Southern Water, Southern Power, by Christopher J. Manganiello

manganiello_southernWhy has the American South—a place with abundant rainfall—become embroiled in intrastate wars over water? Why did unpredictable flooding come to characterize southern waterways, and how did a region that seemed so rich in this all-important resource become derailed by drought and the regional squabbling that has tormented the arid American West? To answer these questions, policy expert and historian Christopher J. Manganiello moves beyond the well-known accounts of flooding in the Mississippi Valley and irrigation in the West to reveal the contested history of southern water.

In the following excerpt from Southern Water, Southern Power: How the Politics of Cheap Energy and Water Scarcity Shaped a Region (pp. 47-50), Manganiello tells the story of a southern power company that did not wait for the demand for hydropower to emerge, but instead created their own market.


After 1900, New South energy companies invigorated the process of mill and town building that William Church Whitner contributed to in the 1890s in the upper reaches of the Savannah River valley. Numerous companies—including the independent Tennessee River Power, Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Duke Power, and other smaller companies—planned and developed multiple-dam and sometimes multiple-purpose projects across the region to redirect river energy to factory hands and machines. “Water power,” Rupert Vance declared in Human Geography, was “the one unifying force underlaying industrial development” in the southern Piedmont.[1] Vance observed this development through North Carolina’s James B. Duke (1856–1925), and Duke Power Company was among the first and most successful corporate enterprises to couple waterpower and industrial development. Dr. Walker Gill Wylie (1849–1923), a South Carolina native, New York City physician, president of the Catawba Power Company, and Whitner’s former business partner, presented the self-made American Tobacco Company king with the idea of developing a series of hydroelectric dams and reservoirs on the Catawba River.[2] Together, Wylie and Duke tapped William States Lee (1872–1934), a Citadel graduate and engineer who had previously worked alongside Whitner at Portman Shoals and who had completed Wylie’s Rock Hill (S.C.) Catawba Power Company hydroelectric project in 1904, to provide the technical know-how.[3] Not unlike other company founders who merged technical skill, river knowledge, and financial resources, the Duke trio started building a system in 1905 and within six years had linked four hydroelectric plants (three on the Catawba River) and two auxiliary coal-fired steam plants in the Carolina’s Piedmont.[4] By then, Duke Power Company’s Catawba (Lake Wylie) and Great Falls projects stored water behind dams before turning falling river water into energy for distribution over 700 miles of transmission lines to reach more than 100 cotton mills.[5]

James B. Duke did not wait for markets to emerge to justify massive capital investments in hydropower; he cultivated industrial consumers.  Continue reading ‘Excerpt: Southern Water, Southern Power, by Christopher J. Manganiello’ »

  1. [1] Rupert B. Vance, Human Geography of the South: A Study in Regional Resources and Human Adequacy (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1932), chap. 12 (“Piedmont Crescent of Industry”), esp. 281.
  2. [2] Robert F. Durden, The Dukes of Durham, 1865–1929 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1975), 177–83.
  3. [3] “A Hydro-electric Power Development on the Catawba River, near Rock Hill, S.C.,” Electrical World and Engineer 44, no. 4 (July 23, 1904): 129–32; Augustus Kohn, The Water Powers of South Carolina (Charleston, S.C.: Walker, Evans, and Cogswell, 1911), 82–83.
  4. [4] Robert F. Durden, Electrifying the Piedmont Carolinas: The Duke Power Company, 1904–1997 (Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 2001), ix–x, chap. 1. The companies I will call Alabama Power, Duke Power, and Georgia Power throughout this chapter changed names though consolidation, new ownership, incorporation, or holding company transfers throughout the twentieth century. These names will be used for simplicity and to illustrate the current corporations’ histories. Today, Georgia Power is one of four companies—including Alabama Power, Gulf Power, and Mississippi Power—under the umbrella of the Southern Company (established in 1945). Duke Power was initially known as the Southern Power Company (established in 1904 and having no affiliation with the current Southern Company), became Duke Power in 1924, merged with Progress Energy in 2012, and is currently known as Duke Energy. For corporate histories, see Wade H. Wright, History of the Georgia Power Company, 1855–1956 (Atlanta: Georgia Power Company, 1957); Jack Riley, Carolina Power and Light Company, 1908–1958: A Corporate Biography, Tracing the Origin and Development of Electric Service in Much of the Carolinas (Raleigh, N.C.: Edwards and Broughton, 1958); Durden, Electrifying the Piedmont Carolinas; Martha Elrod and Julie Groce, Energizing Georgia: The History of Georgia Power, 1883–2004 (Macon, Ga.: Indigo Custom Publishing, 2004); Leah Rawls Atkins, “Developed for the Service of Alabama”: The Centennial History of the Alabama Power Company, 1906–2006 (Birmingham: Alabama Power Co., 2006); and Dub Taft and Sam Heys, Big Bets: Decisions and Leaders That Shaped Southern Company (Atlanta: Southern Company, 2011). Duke did not invent the term “white coal,” which was already in global circulation. David Blackbourn charts a history of water, energy, and nationalism in Germany during the 1890s, where “‘white coal’ was cheap, clean, hygienic, and modern, not like smoky, sooty coal.” See chapter 4, “Dam-Building and Modern Times,” in Blackbourn, The Conquest of Nature: Water, Landscape, and the Making of Modern Germany (New York: Norton, 2006), esp. 201 and 219.
  5. [5] C. A. Mees, “Development of the Rocky Creek Station of the Southern Power Company,” Engineering Record, Building Record, and Sanitary Engineer 59, no. 14 (April 3, 1909): 462–69, esp. 462.

Daniel J. Tortora: The Grant-Middleton Duel and the Aftermath of the Anglo-Cherokee War

tortora_carolina_PBWe welcome a guest post today from Daniel J. Tortora, author of Carolina in Crisis: Cherokees, Colonists, and Slaves in the American Southeast, 1756-1763. In his engaging book, Tortora explores how the Anglo-Cherokee War reshaped the political and cultural landscape of the colonial South. He chronicles the series of clashes that erupted from 1758 to 1761 between Cherokees, settlers, and British troops. The conflict, no insignificant sideshow to the French and Indian War, eventually led to the regeneration of a British-Cherokee alliance. Tortora reveals how the war destabilized the South Carolina colony and threatened the white coastal elite, arguing that the political and military success of the Cherokees led colonists to a greater fear of slave resistance and revolt and ultimately nurtured South Carolinians’ rising interest in the movement for independence.

In today’s post, Tortora shares the important but unfamiliar account of the feud between a South Carolina provincial troop commander and a British colonel during the Anglo-Cherokee War.

No one knows for sure what happened on the morning of December 23, 1761, in a field on the outskirts of Charles Town (today Charleston), South Carolina.

An obscure letter, one of many manuscripts cited for the first time in Carolina in Crisis, offers a brief clue. In it, Henry Laurens writes that the friends of South Carolina’s provincial commander, Colonel Thomas Middleton, were soon “alledging & industriously insinuating” that “a G”—British Colonel James Grant—“at 12 ¼ Yards distance . . . fired over an M’s Calabash.”

The Grant-Middleton duel took place just five days after South Carolina and the Cherokee Indians had signed the Treaty of Charles Town. Chapter 10 details the making of both the duel and the treaty. Let’s take a closer look at the duel and its significance.

In June of 1761 Grant marched a British and South Carolina army to the Cherokee Country and defeated a massive Cherokee army. Then he burned and destroyed fifteen Indian towns in a matter of weeks. The provincial commander, Middleton, resigned in a huff and returned to his Charles Town residence. Months of accusations and emotion-laden correspondence ensued between Grant and his supporters, and Middleton and his supporters. In Middleton’s corner was the fiery assemblyman Christopher Gadsden, who emerged as a spokesperson for colonial rights and privileges.

The dispute was highly personal.

In a series of lengthy letters, Grant called Middleton a fair-weather soldier, and a poor one at that. Middleton and his supporters called Grant a condescending, petulant, and inept officer. Grant embodied what many colonists had come to resent about British authorities. A Scottish aristocrat, he had a penchant for fine wine, the latest fashions, and expensive haircuts. He shunned democracy and saw others’ advice as “not worth a shilling.” Middleton, on the other hand, symbolized to many colonial elites the heroic colonial public servant slighted by British authorities. Continue reading ‘Daniel J. Tortora: The Grant-Middleton Duel and the Aftermath of the Anglo-Cherokee War’ »

Cartoon: Jesse and Frank James Discover the Risks of Railroad Robbery, by M.W. Summers

summers_ordeal[This article is crossposted at UNCPressCivilWar150.com.]

This post is part of our series of political cartoons by historian and illustrator Mark Wahlgren Summers, author of The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of Reconstruction.

On Thursdays, we feature a new cartoon—hand drawn by Summers—that offers a creative, satirical spin on Reconstruction history. Each cartoon is accompanied by brief commentary from the author/illustrator to help put things into context. These cartoons stimulate your brain, tickle your funny bone, and bring history to life in a whole new way. 

Today’s cartoon features two businessmen of the Wild West who eclipsed even the notorious Jesse James in their exploitative conquests. (Click image for full size.)

jesse james

“Jesse and Frank James Discover One of the Biggest Risks in Railroad Robbery.” Most people think of the Wild West and Reconstruction as if they were separate eras. They weren’t. The Abilene Trail began just as Congressional Reconstruction got under way. Jesse James’s gang grew out of Civil War bushwhackers; the great failed bank robbery in Northfield, Minnesota, took place just as South Carolina and Louisiana freedpeople were fighting for their lives and right to share in the political process in 1876. Custer’s last stand happened barely a fortnight before a quite different massacre in cold blood of black militiamen in Hamburg, South Carolina; and that same summer James “Wild Bill” Hickok was felled from behind in Deadwood, South Dakota. He was holding aces and eights, a combination since known for that reason as the “dead man’s hand,” and perhaps the main reason why he would be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1979.

But the James Brothers were pikers when it came to railroad robbery. The biggest thieves sat in corporate boardrooms, notably Jay Gould and his partner Jim Fisk, who looted and ruined the Erie Railroad and swindled rival railroad chief Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt out of tens of thousands of dollars. Like Jesse James, Fisk was shot to death, though in his case his mistress’s other lover did the deed. Gould went on to become a railroad builder and consolidator and the most hated of all the so-called “Robber Barons” of the later 1800s.

Mark Wahlgren Summers is professor of history at the University of Kentucky. He is author of The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of Reconstruction, A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction, and many other books.

Excerpt: Hotel Life, by Caroline Field Levander and Matthew Pratt Guterl

levander_hotelWhat is a hotel? As Caroline Field Levander and Matthew Pratt Guterl show us in this thought-provoking book, even though hotels are everywhere around us, we rarely consider their essential role in our modern existence and how they help frame our sense of who and what we are. They are, in fact, as centrally important as other powerful places like prisons, hospitals, or universities. Guiding readers through the story of hotels as places of troublesome possibility, as mazelike physical buildings, as inspirational touchstones for art and literature, and as unsettling, even disturbing, backdrops for the drama of everyday life, Levander and Guterl ensure that we will never think about this seemingly ordinary place in the same way again.

In the following excerpt from Hotel Life: The Story of a Place Where Anything Can Happen (pp. 39-42), Levander and Guterl explore the world of Eloise, the six-year-old heroine from Kay Thompson’s book series for children, to show how a hotel can resemble a home.



The hotel’s ability to foster trust and nurture people who are otherwise temporarily homeless and dependent has been a long-standing feature of the modern landscape, and this functionality makes the hotel an irresistible magnet for those across the entire socioeconomic spectrum. Kay Thompson famously captured the hotel’s imaginative allure for the vulnerable wealthy in her 1955 fabulously popular Eloise stories, and the resulting marketing of these stories as a distinguishing feature of the hotel she—and her creator—called home attests to the hotel’s ability to incubate new kinds of identity and self-making even for those guests who seem to have it all. A ward of New York City’s Plaza Hotel, the six-year-old Eloise roams the hallways of one of the world’s finest hotels, her mother perennially absent. Without the protecting spaces provided by the hotel’s public and private venues, Eloise would be alone in a dangerous and unprotecting world, but in the generative habitus of the hotel she invents a world rich with play at self-making. If her room is depicted as messy and boring, filled with toys and books, each a discarded substitute for the missing affections of her mother, it is still filled with sunshine and with “Nanny,” her aged British minder. Leaving the suite, Eloise endlessly wanders the floors of the hotel, plays with guests and the staff, and explores, through the hotel, how to exist as a solitary self in a larger world. Long a favorite of young girls, Thompson’s Eloise demystifies the labyrinth of the hotel and suggests, instead, that the indomitable spirit of one particular six-year-old can triumphantly make a happy home even in the least sincerely domestic spaces of the world, and even in the absence of her mother.

The Plaza, as Thompson describes it through Eloise, is a home, a family, and a neighborhood—a microcosm of the larger world that Eloise will ultimately inhabit when an adult and thus a testing ground for a modern subject in formation. But Eloise has help with her self-fashioning—the hotel offers a series of surrogates and stand-in communities that enable and enliven her progress. She and Nanny routinely enjoy room service, and never cook for themselves. During the day, when Nanny is apparently otherwise occupied, Eloise tours the entire hotel. She attends weddings. She plays with the busboys. She boasts that she has been to “56 affairs including Halloween.” She is the unofficial charge of legions of stewards, bellhops, concierges, and guests. Instead of the proverbial neighborhood block, she has an endless supply of hallways, each door a gateway to another temporary “home” at the hotel. When young Eloise playfully scoots down the hall, rapping a stick against the woodwork or stomping her roller skates, a row of doors opens, and the proto-neighborhood awakens to watch, to instruct, to “parent” collectively. We see a man with a mixed-drink and striped pants, a comely woman behind him, and another man, wearing a bathrobe, shaving cream still on his face, and a third man, fastidiously dressed for business, with a small dog. Behind closed doors, the Plaza is full of discrete domestic spheres. Once the doors open—in this case, to make it possible to attend to a playful young girl—an alternative public emerges, a neighborhood constructed not through sidewalks and the front stoop, but through Continue reading ‘Excerpt: Hotel Life, by Caroline Field Levander and Matthew Pratt Guterl’ »

Video: Country Soul Playlist by Charles L. Hughes

Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American SouthCharles Hughes, author of Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South crafted a YouTube playlist to accompany his book. The playlist features country and soul music discussed in his book, as well as modern songs made possible through the birth of country soul music. We’ve selected a sampling from Hughes’s list to feature here. Be sure to check out the full Country Soul playlist on YouTube.

Want to know more? Read our interview with Hughes, where he shares some of the history behind these songs.

Now, grab another cup of coffee, sit back, and explore the sounds of well-known and hidden gems that shaped the trajectory of American music.

“I Was Born Blue” by Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams

“Color Him Father” by Linda Martell

“Hold On” by the Alabama Shakes

“I’ll Take You There” by The Staple Singers

“Country Music, That’s My Thing” by O. B. McClinton

“I Ain’t Easy to Love” by Candi Staton, Jason Isbell, John Paul White, and the Swampers

Charles L. Hughes is director of the Memphis Center at Rhodes College. His book, Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South, is now available. Follow him on Twitter @CharlesLHughes2, and check out his Country Soul playlist on Spotify, too.


Cartoon: John B. Gordon Takes Umbrage and Crisp Twenties, by Mark Wahlgren Summers

summers_ordeal[This article is crossposted at UNCPressCivilWar150.com.]

Here’s the latest in a series of political cartoons from historian and illustrator Mark Wahlgren Summers, author of The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of Reconstruction.

On Thursdays, we feature a new cartoon—hand drawn by Summers—that offers a creative, satirical spin on Reconstruction history. Each cartoon is accompanied by brief commentary from the author/illustrator to help put things into context. These cartoons stimulate your brain, tickle your funny bone, and bring history to life in a whole new way. 

Today’s cartoon: duplicitous politicians fight (and feed) corruption. (Click image for full size.)

gambling gordon“Conservative John B. Gordon, in Rufus Bullock’s Railroad Aid Casino, Takes Umbrage and Crisp Twenties.” White conservatives raged against the stealing and financial waste in Republican programs to help build railroads across the South. They were right in some cases. In Georgia, Governor Rufus B. Bullock’s government was particularly lavish in promising subsidies to projected lines—though promises outran performance and some of the most controversial grants were scaled down or repudiated when Democrats came to power. What Democrats didn’t say was that the beneficiaries of that aid were nearly all businessmen in their own party. Some of their top politicians had cozy, even corrupt relationships with some of the foremost railroad corporations in the country. One of those was former Confederate general and future U. S. Senator John B. Gordon, whose services to California’s railroad barons were of the most intimate and dubious kind. But then, Georgia was no different than elsewhere. Former Confederate Nathan Bedford Forrest, head of the Ku Klux Klan, was deeply involved in railroad-building schemes dependent on bonds guaranteed by Republican authorities in Alabama, and among those protesting corruption loudest in South Carolina were conservatives of property and standing who shared in the take.

Mark Wahlgren Summers is professor of history at the University of Kentucky. He is author of The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of Reconstruction, A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction, and many other books.

Excerpt: Born to Be Wild: The Rise of the American Motorcyclist, by Randy D. McBee

mcbee_bornIn 1947, 4,000 motorcycle hobbyists converged on Hollister, California. As images of dissolute bikers graced the pages of newspapers and magazines, the three-day gathering sparked the growth of a new subculture while also touching off national alarm. In the years that followed, the stereotypical leather-clad biker emerged in the American consciousness as a menace to law-abiding motorists and small towns. Yet a few short decades later, the motorcyclist, once menacing, became mainstream. To understand this shift, Randy D. McBee narrates the evolution of motorcycle culture since World War II.

In the following excerpt from Born to Be Wild: The Rise of the American Motorcyclist (pp. 91-96), McBee talks about the birth of the Honda motorcycle, and how motorcycling transcended race, class, and gender.


“Vroom-vroom is now an established middle-class noise,” claimed a 1965 Esquire article about the Madison Avenue Motorcycle Club (MAMC). The author described the club as one “peopled by respectable professional men who prefer two wheels to four, and it is just one manifestation of a growing sophistication of the motorcycle.” The club was initially established in 1960, a year in which only 45,000 motorcycles were sold nationwide, by a group of “serious” bike-riding New York executives and professional men. Five years later, Americans were expected to purchase as many as 450,000 cycles by the year’s end. Most of these new owners were casual participants in the subculture, or what the author characterized as “fair-weather riders” and “not the hard-core devotees.” The picture accompanying the story showed a dozen men riding in a pack, some of them wearing sunglasses, a significant majority of them wearing helmets, and all of them in suit and tie. “Grey worsted suits in the saddle and an attaché case on the luggage carrier,” the author explained, “are not the rare sight today that they were a few years ago.”[1]

Stories such as this one about middle-class riders making motorcycling respectable were common in the early 1960s. Their arrival both coincided with and was the product of the introduction of the Japanese Honda into the American marketplace. Yet despite the enthusiasm that greeted the middle-class rider, ambivalence and frustration also surrounded him. These were serious riders, or so they claimed, yet their critics found it all too easy to dismiss them as “casual” motorcyclists. If anything, their struggle to overcome this claim made their impact on motorcycling more conspicuous than it might have been otherwise, and it brought the issue of class to the fore.

To be sure, there were plenty of middle-class and professional riders who did not wear a suit and tie. But just as many (if not more) did, and the image of the middle-class rider (and his Japanese-made bike) remained a conspicuous and influential issue in motorcycling in the decades to come. The trademark suit and tie was accompanied by Continue reading ‘Excerpt: Born to Be Wild: The Rise of the American Motorcyclist, by Randy D. McBee’ »

  1. [1] Michael Sumner, “Varoom at the Top: The Madison Avenue Motorcycle Club,” Esquire, November 1965, 141.

Helen Zoe Veit: The Great War and Modern Food

veit_modernWe welcome to the blog today a guest post by Helen Zoe Veit, author of Modern Food, Moral Food: Self-Control, Science, and the Rise of Modern American Eating in the Early Twentieth Century. American eating changed dramatically in the early twentieth century. As food production became more industrialized, nutritionists, home economists, and so-called racial scientists were all pointing Americans toward a newly scientific approach to diet. Food faddists were rewriting the most basic rules surrounding eating, while reformers were working to reshape the diets of immigrants and the poor. And by the time of World War I, the country’s first international aid program was bringing moral advice about food conservation into kitchens around the country. In Modern Food, Moral Food, Veit argues that the twentieth-century food revolution was fueled by a powerful conviction that Americans had a moral obligation to use self-discipline and reason, rather than taste and tradition, in choosing what to eat.

In today’s post, Veit takes a look at how World War I affected American diets in enduring political and philosophical ways.


A hundred years ago, European armies were fighting a “Great War” against each other, one that would later be called World War I.

World War I means many things to many people. The first industrial war. The beginning of modernity. A rehearsal for World War II.

One thing World War I doesn’t bring to mind is food. But it should, because during World War I the rise of industrial food processing, nutrition science, and America’s first food aid program revolutionized American food on almost every level. World War I made food modern, and understanding how that happened is key to understanding food today.

Food was already changing when the war started. Today we romanticize great-grandmother’s supposedly local, sustainable food habits. But when modern foodies take up home canning or chicken keeping, they’re taking on work their own ancestors were usually thrilled to outsource when they could. Industrial food was coming into its own a hundred years ago, and Americans leapt at the chance to buy canned vegetables, boxed cereal, industrial meat, and newly invented processed cheese.

At the same time, the new science of nutrition was turning obscure terms like calories and vitamins into household names. Before calories were applied to food in the late nineteenth century, few realized that different foods contained different levels of energy. After all, it’s not intuitive that a piece of cheddar has more calories than a piece of carrot. By the 1910s calories were changing how Americans ate, especially because many wanted to maximize the food energy they bought per dollar. Vitamins were even more revolutionary. Just discovered around 1910, vitamins made it official that the kinds of food people ate mattered. While scientists in the past had dismissed fruits and vegetables as frivolous extras, new knowledge was transforming them into central players in the modern diet.

Those dietary changes got a jolt of moral urgency when America entered the war in 1917. By then, trench warfare had devastated European agriculture and killed millions of farmers-turned-soldiers. In response to food shortages, the U.S. government created the Food Administration, a wartime agency headed by a young Herbert Hoover, tasked with funneling calorie-dense foods to allies and soldiers abroad. To export as much beef, pork, white flour, butter, and sugar as possible, administrators had to get Americans to eat less of them.

And this is where it gets interesting. Continue reading ‘Helen Zoe Veit: The Great War and Modern Food’ »

Cartoon: Wade Hampton’s Whiskers, by Mark Wahlgren Summers

summers_ordeal[This article is crossposted at UNCPressCivilWar150.com.]

We’re happy to share the latest in a series of political cartoons from historian and illustrator Mark Wahlgren Summers, author of The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of Reconstruction.

On Thursdays, we feature a new cartoon—hand drawn by Summers—that offers a creative, satirical spin on Reconstruction history. Each cartoon is accompanied by brief commentary from the author/illustrator to help put things into context. These cartoons stimulate your brain, tickle your funny bone, and bring history to life in a whole new way. 

Today’s feature: How the Lost Cause lost its way with Wade Hampton. (Click image for full size.)

wade hampton's whiskers“The Lost Cause Isn’t All That Lost. It Just Went into Redeemer Wade Hampton’s Whiskers and Couldn’t Find the Way Out.” A gray coat covered a multitude of causes. While Democrats and conservatives who “redeemed” the South from Republican rule in particular and democracy in general insisted that theirs would be a New South accepting the results of the Civil War, the kind of leaders they chose did not show it. South as well as North, voters chose figures with impeccable military records. In South Carolina, whites claimed to have elected onetime Confederate cavalryman Wade Hampton as governor in 1876 and with their paramilitaries, had him inaugurated. Hampton would graduate into the Senate a few years later. Hampton’s esteem outside the state did not rest on his war record, nor his reputation as a planter from a distinguished line of Wade Hamptons dating to Revolutionary War times. Rather, he was honored as a symbol of how far that Lost Cause had been tamed into something that northerners could find acceptable: love for the American flag and lip-service, at least, to fair treatment for African Americans. In Hampton’s case, it was more than lip-service: it was a liberalism that got him into serious political trouble with the rank and file. His willingness to appoint blacks to low-level government positions and preserve the basics of the school system, though, did not extend to protecting black voters’ political rights. Majority rule in South Carolina would have meant Republican control, and that outcome Hampton and his white-line critics alike were determined to prevent by whatever means of persuasion they could muster—homicidal ones included.

Mark Wahlgren Summers is professor of history at the University of Kentucky. He is author of The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of Reconstruction, A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction, and many other books.

Excerpt: Guaranteed Pure: The Moody Bible Institute, Business, and the Making of Modern Evangelicalism, by Timothy Gloege

gloege_guaranteedAmerican evangelicalism has long walked hand in hand with modern consumer capitalism. Timothy Gloege shows us why, through an engaging story about God and big business at the Moody Bible Institute. Founded in Chicago by shoe-salesman-turned-revivalist Dwight Lyman Moody in 1889, the institute became a center of fundamentalism under the guidance of the innovative promoter and president of Quaker Oats, Henry Crowell. Gloege explores the framework for understanding humanity shared by these business and evangelical leaders, whose perspectives clearly differed from those underlying modern scientific theories. At the core of their “corporate evangelical” framework was a modern individualism understood primarily in terms of economic relations.

In the following excerpt from Guaranteed Pure: The Moody Bible Institute, Business, and the Making of Modern Evangelicalism (pp. 117-122), Gloege shares how Henry Parsons Crowell, a shrewd Christian businessman, built the Quaker Oats company to achieve his two-fold purpose: economic success and God’s glory.


When Henry Parsons Crowell first entered the oatmeal business in 1882, few took him seriously. He knew nothing about the milling process, and his newly purchased mill in north-central Ohio was in laughable condition. Other millers considered Crowell a fool, and by the business logic of an antebellum economy, he was. But he could have cared less. Crowell was part of a phalanx of forward-looking businessmen that considered physical equipment secondary to a business’s intangible assets. It was a calculus that transformed the face of business over the next thirty years.

The oatmeal market suffered under the weight of too many competitors, with prices often falling below production costs. Crowell saw the solution in the mill’s overlooked Quaker trademark. And so, at a time when most consumers shoveled their oatmeal from open barrels, Crowell’s product appeared on shelves in sealed, two-pound boxes. Richly illustrated advertisements saturated local, then national, print media. Both package and ad featured the iconic Quaker, always smiling jovially and holding a scroll on which was written the single word “Pure.”

By 1891 Crowell had absorbed most of his competitors, but even his unparalleled success did not convince some of his more reluctant partners. By their older, more-traditional producer orientation, his promotional techniques were a half step away from outright chicanery. But as long as he sat atop the company’s rigid corporate structure, these opinions could not stop the sprawling nationwide operation from marching in tandem with his designs. In 1901 the permanency of his plan was marked by a newly organized corporation, the Quaker Oats Company. Crowell not only had dragged his own industry into the modern era, but he also was among the early pioneers that demonstrated these techniques could be applied to practically any consumer good. Through the trifecta of trademark, package, and promotion, a consumer society was born.

Crowell’s second major life project began before the ink was dry on Quaker Oats’s incorporation papers. And like his initial business investment, Crowell saw potential where others did not. Continue reading ‘Excerpt: Guaranteed Pure: The Moody Bible Institute, Business, and the Making of Modern Evangelicalism, by Timothy Gloege’ »

Video: The Legacy and Lessons of Working-Class Feminism: Brooklyn’s NCNW

Mobilizing New York: AIDS, Antipoverty, and Feminist Activism, by Tamar W. CarrollTamar W. Carroll, author of Mobilizing New York: AIDS, Antipoverty, and Feminist Activism, helped produce a video featuring women from the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, chapter of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women in the 1970s. The NCNW is the subject of two chapters of Mobilizing New York.

Carroll writes about the video:

The National Congress of Neighborhood Women was founded by Jan Peterson in 1974–75 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to provide a voice for working class white women within the feminist and neighborhood movements. This video features black-and-white footage filmed by Christine Noschese in the mid to late 1970s of NCNW speak-outs and programs related to the group’s college program, which provided an opportunity for women to earn an associate’s degree in their neighborhood. Many of the multiracial group’s members were displaced homemakers and had not previously graduated high school.

For more information about the conversations in this video, see The Legacy and Lessons of Working Class Feminism: Brooklyn’s NCNW” on YouTube. (running time 16:35)

Tamar W. Carroll is assistant professor of history at Rochester Institute of Technology. Her book Mobilizing New York: AIDS, Antipoverty, and Feminist Activism is now available.

Excerpt: The Archaeology of Sanitation in Roman Italy, by Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow

koloski-ostrow_archaeologogyThe Romans developed sophisticated methods for managing hygiene, including aqueducts for moving water from one place to another, sewers for removing used water from baths and runoff from walkways and roads, and public and private latrines. Through the archeological record, graffiti, sanitation-related paintings, and literature, Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow explores this little-known world of bathrooms and sewers, offering unique insights into Roman sanitation, engineering, urban planning and development, hygiene, and public health.

In the following excerpt from The Archaeology of Sanitation in Roman Italy: Toilets, Sewers, and Water Systems (pp. 38-39), Koloski-Ostrow explains how the study and excavation of ancient latrines can be key to understanding ancient cultures.


Theoretical Frameworks for the Study of Toilets and Sewers

Roman toilets, sewers, and drains are important archaeological features that embody ideas relevant to Roman society about cleanliness, physical health, concepts of beauty, and even notions of privacy. If toilets are excavated properly, they can provide valuable data even about the diet and socioeconomic status of users, divisions between households where they are found, construction methods, and maintenance. While the understanding that outhouse archaeology is significant has made major strides in nineteenth-century American historical circles,[1] this perception has been slow to affect the archaeology of the Roman world. Part of the problem, of course, is that many Roman toilets and latrines were excavated more than a hundred years ago, as the science of archaeology was developing. As a result, no one was taking much care to stratify dung piles, to sort garbage from house toilets, or to remove privy deposits. Those early excavations sought the greatest art treasures, which were unlikely to be found in toilets.

Two theoretical frameworks have influenced my work on toilets and sewers. The first, termed “formation processes,”[2] argues that every archaeological feature, including a Roman toilet, correlates to human behaviors and activities that determine its construction, use, and ultimate abandonment. Construction, use, and abandonment are the three main processes captured by stratification within privy chambers. In other words, we can consider these processes as actual constructs of human behavior. While I am not here reporting on excavations that I myself have completed on particular toilets, I am able to refer to these human behaviors (construction, use, and abandonment) as they pertain to my effort to contextualize various toilets within one structure or within a city environment.

Closely connected to the theory of “formation processes” is the “social theory of architectural design,” which aims to uncover the human decisions and actions leading to the creation of an archaeological feature.[3] Toilets can thus be characterized as a necessary component of organizing and planning a habitation or a public area, just as sewers are necessary components of urban design. One of the first things to consider about toilets Continue reading ‘Excerpt: The Archaeology of Sanitation in Roman Italy, by Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow’ »

  1. [1] See Wheeler, K. “View from the Outhouse: What We Can Learn from the Excavation of Privies.” Historical Archaeology 34, no. 1 (2000): 1–2; Heirbaut, E., and K. Wheeler. “Multi-Disciplinary Research Questions and Methods, Taphonomy.” In Jansen, Koloski-Ostrow, and Moormann, Roman Toilets, 7–14.
  2. [2] Schiffer, M.B. Formation Processes of the Archaeological Record. Albuquerque, 1987; cf. Wheeler, “View from the Outhouse,” 5–7.
  3. [3] McGuire, R., and M.B. Schiffer. “A Theory of Architectural Design.” Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 2 (1983): 227–303.

J. Matthew Gallman on Heroes and Hypocrites: War Talk 150 Years Ago and Today

Over on our CivilWar150 site, J. Matthew Gallman, author of Defining Duty in the Civil War: Personal Choice, Popular Culture, and the Union Home Front, discusses how the public scrutiny of those who profit from war versus those who fight in it has a longstanding history in America. He writes:

Today stories periodically surface of public figures who have been claiming—and even wearing—military decorations that they had not earned. Nearly ten years ago George W. Bush signed the “Stolen Valor Act of 2005” to punish such fraud. When that legislation was ruled unconstitutional, Congress passed a recrafted “Stolen Valor Act of 2013,” signed by Barack Obama. Clearly, profiting from falsified bravery was not something to be taken lightly.

During the election of 2004, one candidate’s military service in Vietnam came under such harsh scrutiny (I am no expert, but it seemed unfair and inaccurate to me), that the term “swiftboating” was born. He lost. The other candidate’s military service in the Texas National Guard received some scrutiny as well, although much of that seemed to concern whether he served properly as opposed to where he served. Meanwhile, pundits and antiwar critics coined the term “chickenhawk” to describe folks whose new enthusiasm for wars appeared unseemly in contrast to how they behaved when they were of military age.

The public conversation that emerged in the Union states during the Civil War meshes well with these contemporary discussions. The greatest scorn was reserved for the dishonest charlatans who sought to profit from a war where they had not shared in the risks. A few months after the disastrous First Battle of Bull Run, New York’s Vanity Fair published a public letter directed to a certain “young gentleman in Broadway” who had taken to walking up and down the city’s streets in a fake uniform, accepting admiring glances from men and women alike. “Don’t you think it is about time you took off that uniform?” the letter demanded. Although serving honorably in the Texas National Guard might generally have been seen as appropriate service during an unpopular war, Civil War cartoonists loved mocking men who served in the “Home Guard” while dining at fancy restaurants and staying clear of harm’s way.

Cartoonists for New York-based Vanity Fair enjoyed ridiculing the local elites who paraded around in uniforms but spent much for their time dining at the city's fashionable Delmonico's restaurant. This series of six drawings plays on the idea that these faux soldiers are engaged in defending "Fort Delmonico," down to the "Grand Charge" at the end of the evening. Vanity Fair, November 23, 1861, 232. Courtesy of HarpWeek.

Cartoonists for New York-based Vanity Fair enjoyed ridiculing the local elites who paraded around in uniforms but spent much for their time dining at the city’s fashionable Delmonico’s restaurant. This series of six drawings plays on the idea that these faux soldiers are engaged in defending “Fort Delmonico,” down to the “Grand Charge” at the end of the evening. Vanity Fair, November 23, 1861, 232. Courtesy of HarpWeek.

Read the full post, “On Heroes and Hypocrites: War Talk 150 Years Ago and Today,” at uncpresscivilwar150.com.

Excerpt: The Lives of Chang and Eng, by Joseph Andrew Orser

orser_livesConnected at the chest by a band of flesh, Chang and Eng Bunker toured the United States and the world from the 1820s to the 1870s, placing themselves and their extraordinary bodies on exhibit as “freaks of nature” and “Oriental curiosities.” More famously known as the Siamese twins, they eventually settled in rural North Carolina, married two white sisters, became slave owners, and fathered twenty-one children between them. Though the brothers constantly professed their normality, they occupied a strange space in nineteenth-century America. They spoke English, attended church, became American citizens, and backed the Confederacy during the Civil War. Yet in life and death, the brothers were seen by most Americans as “monstrosities,” an affront they were unable to escape.

Joseph Andrew Orser chronicles the twins’ history, their sometimes raucous journey through antebellum America, their domestic lives in North Carolina, and what their fame revealed about the changing racial and cultural landscape of the United States. More than a biography of the twins, the result is a study of nineteenth-century American culture and society through the prism of Chang and Eng that reveals how Americans projected onto the twins their own hopes and fears.

In the following excerpt from The Lives of Chang and Eng: Siam’s Twins in Nineteenth-Century America (pp. 147-151), Orser shares some of the stories and images in which Americans viewed Chang and Eng as analogous to the union or division of the United States.


The Siamese twins had long been used ironically as symbols of American nationalism. The earliest pamphlet about the twins published in the United States in the early 1830s featured a title page image of a flying eagle carrying a banner that read “E Pluribus Unum,” and beneath that was the phrase, “United We Stand.” This appeared opposite a frontispiece that pictured the twins as dark-skinned boys wearing queues and loose Oriental garments. The 1836 pamphlet published under the twins’ direction similarly featured a bald eagle clutching the national shield, beneath which were the words “Union and Liberty, one and inseparable, now and forever.” Analyzing the Siamese twins and American identity, scholar Allison Pingree argued that these exhibition booklets, which juxtaposed the parlance of the day describing conjoinedness—“united brothers” or “united twins”—with the symbolism of the American eagle holding an “E Pluribus Unum” banner in its beak, were playing to political concerns of the period. Even as nationalists appropriated the bond to symbolize union, proponents of states’ rights could claim that “connecting the states too closely was ‘monstrous’ and excessive.”[1]

This symbolism of the 1830s carried even more resonance in 1860. By this time, with the twins famously slaveholders and family men, representations of the twins and union were framed around the theme of a house divided, brother against brother, and the absurdity and tragedy of the moment. The political imagery began in July when the Louisville Journal took aim at discord in the Democratic Party. “It is said that Chang and Eng, the Siamese twins, differ in politics,” the widely reprinted “news” item reported. “Both are veteran democrats, but Chang is now for Breckinridge, and Eng for Douglas.”[2] The idea that the twins, longtime Whigs, supported either Democratic candidate—Illinois senator Stephen A. Douglas, who many southerners believed would not protect slavery, or Vice President John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, who was staunchly proslavery—apparently proved too much for a Surry County neighbor. The twins “are not now and never have been Democrats [and] they say they never expect to be Democrats,” the neighbor wrote to the Fayetteville Observer, which had published the report from Louisville. Instead, the anonymous neighbor wrote, they both supported John Bell of Tennessee, a pro-Union slaveholder who was running under the Constitutional Union Party, a coalition of former Southern Whigs and Know-Nothings that performed well in northwestern North Carolina but did not carry Surry County.[3] True or not, the significance of these assertions is the symbolism each carries: In the first report, the brothers were at odds, spelling doom for party and country, whereas in the second, Chang and Eng saw eye to eye and backed a candidate who similarly promised union.

Stories that used the twins to illustrate the sectional divide continued to pit brother against brother. A New York Tribune report claimed Continue reading ‘Excerpt: The Lives of Chang and Eng, by Joseph Andrew Orser’ »

  1. [1] Pingree, “America’s ‘United Siamese Brothers,'” 94–95; Hale, An Historical Account of the Siamese Twin Brothers; [Hale], A Few Particulars concerning Chang-Eng.
  2. [2] The item was reprinted in such diverse locations as Lowell (MA) Daily Citizen and News, July 30, 1860; Daily Cleveland Herald, August 4, 1860; Fayetteville (NC) Observer, August 6, 1860; Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, August 8, 1860; and Charleston (SC) Courier, August 11, 1860.
  3. [3] “The Siamese Twins,” Fayetteville (NC) Observer, August 16, 1860.

Cartoon: 1874 Arkansas Politics, by Mark Wahlgren Summers

summers_ordeal[This article is crossposted from UNCPressCivilWar150.com.]

Here’s the latest in a series of political cartoons from historian and illustrator Mark Wahlgren Summers, author of The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of Reconstruction.

On Thursdays, we feature a new cartoon—hand drawn by Summers—that offers a creative, satirical spin on Reconstruction history. Each cartoon is accompanied by brief commentary from the author/illustrator to help put things into context. These cartoons stimulate your brain, tickle your funny bone, and bring history to life in a whole new way. 

Today’s feature: the messy politics of Reconstruction-era Arkansas. (Click image for full size.)

1980 MWS, Arkansas politics is to politics like

“1874 Arkansas Politics Is to Politics What Jackson Pollock Is to Portrait Painting.” Arkansas politics had always had the rest of the country bafflingly confused. By 1874, it made no sense to anyone outside the state. The regular Republican faction, known as the Minstrels, had run a wartime Unionist, Elisha Baxter for governor; Democrats had adopted a dissident radical Republican, Joseph Brooks, as their candidate. In November, the voters did not make the result; the vote-counters did. Backed by the legislature and the courts, Minstrels declared Baxter elected. Little did they realize that he would sell them out (but then, little did Baxter realize that eventually the Democrats would sell him out, too!). When Baxter’s apostasy became clear, Minstrel leaders had the state supreme court declare Brooks the winner after all. With a militia at his back, Brooks—now backed by most Republicans—overthrew Baxter—now backed by most Democrats. The brief civil war that followed, the Brooks-Baxter War, ended in the president throwing his weight on Baxter’s side, dooming Reconstruction in Arkansas. By the time the president had unscrambled who was on whose side and decided that Brooks may have been elected after all, it was too late to do anything about it.

Mark Wahlgren Summers is professor of history at the University of Kentucky. He is author of The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of Reconstruction, A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction, and many other books.

Southern Cultures Journal App Now Available

Introducing the Southern Cultures App! More content. More ways to read, watch, listen, subscribe!

Southern Cultures is now multimedia! Download the app for your tablet, and in addition to all the great content available in the print journal, you can also enjoy embedded audio, video, and links to additional resources. For a limited time, when you download the app you’ll get the Summer 2015 issue FREE! Available from the AppStore and Google Play.

The trusty print edition is still available, too. You can learn more about subscribing to Southern Cultures at the UNC Press website.

Ellen Griffith Spears: End Toxic Discrimination

spears_baptizedWe welcome a guest post from Ellen Griffith Spears, author of Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town. In the mid-1990s, residents of Anniston, Alabama, began a legal fight against the agrochemical company Monsanto over the dumping of PCBs in the city’s historically African American and white working-class west side. Simultaneously, Anniston environmentalists sought to safely eliminate chemical weaponry that had been secretly stockpiled near the city during the Cold War. In this probing work, Spears offers a compelling narrative of Anniston’s battles for environmental justice, exposing how systemic racial and class inequalities reinforced during the Jim Crow era played out in these intense contemporary social movements.

In today’s post, Spears comments on the recent Supreme Court decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project.


One Supreme Court decision announced this June received limited notice, in part because it came out the same week as momentous decisions on marriage equality and the Affordable Care Act, and following the horrific tragedy at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. But the Court’s decision in a fair housing dispute, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs et al. v. Inclusive Communities Project, merits serious attention as LGBTQ activists and their allies move on to tackle employment and housing discrimination and as the momentum from the campaign to remove the Confederate flag from public places turns toward a broader agenda. The ruling could be especially significant for activists working to end the disproportionate placement of polluting factories and hazardous waste facilities in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

The Inclusive Communities case concerned whether housing for low-income persons in Dallas should be built in the city or in the suburbs. A 5-4 majority of the Court acknowledged that segregated housing persists and reaffirmed the use of disparate-impact analyses—statistical findings that institutional policies have the effect of discriminating whether or not the agency or party in question intended to do so—as a way to tackle bias in housing.

By contrast, proving discriminatory intent or motive can be difficult. Continue reading ‘Ellen Griffith Spears: End Toxic Discrimination’ »

Cartoon: The Grannies, by Mark Wahlgren Summers


[This article is crossposted from UNCPressCivilWar150.com.]

We present the latest in a series of political cartoons from historian and illustrator Mark Wahlgren Summers, author of The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of Reconstruction.

On Thursdays, we feature a new cartoon—hand drawn by Summers—that offers a creative, satirical spin on Reconstruction history. Each cartoon is accompanied by brief commentary from the author/illustrator to help put things into context.  

In today’s cartoon: the controversy over the spoils system during the Reconstruction period. (Click image for full size.)

1980 MWS, The Grannies

“The Grannies.” By the 1870s, the spoils system had become a national scandal. Among those crying out the loudest were the so-called Liberals, most of them Republicans with growing doubts about Reconstruction and a hardening certainty that a government of greed and grab was not only inefficient and immoral, but a threat to the Republic. Horace White of the Chicago Tribune, Edwin Godkin of the Nation, George William Curtis of Harper’s Weekly and Missouri senator Carl Schurz were among the leading critics of politics as usual, personified by such figures as Senators John “Black Jack” Logan of Illinois and Roscoe Conkling of New York, as well as Congressman Benjamin F. “Spoons” Butler of Massachusetts. That all of them were hearty supporters of Reconstruction only made them more offensive to Liberals. If civil service reformers saw them as the epitome of self-interest in government, the bosses saw their antagonists as dilletantes, the “unco’ guid,” as Conkling would sneer, and, in their daintiness about political methods, un-American and unmanly. “When Doctor Johnson defined patriotism as the last refuge of a scoundrel,” Conkling snarled, “he was unconscious of the then undeveloped capabilities and uses of the word ‘Reform.’…They forget, that parties are not built up by deportment or by ladies’ magazines or gush!”

Mark Wahlgren Summers is professor of history at the University of Kentucky. He is author of The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of Reconstruction, A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction, and many other books.