Tammany Patronage

Why Did U.S. Postmasters Once Have So Much Political Cachet?

American bureaucracy used to work through patronage, an informal system of job-distribution by the party in power. Why did it change?
Windowsill

When Americans Became Obsessed with Fresh Air

Once it became clear that mosquitoes, not the air itself, carried malaria, early 20th-century Americans went to extreme lengths to enjoy fresh air at night.
Mr. Smith filibuster

“Filibuster” Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does

The term "filibuster" used to refer to Americans who went to foreign countries to fight in their wars without the government’s permission.
Avocado

The Illustrious History of the Avocado

Avocados had an important place in Mesoamerican peoples’ diet, mythology, and culture. It’s possible that they were eaten in Mexico 10,000 years ago.
Christine Jorgensen

Was Christine Jorgensen the Caitlyn Jenner of the 1950s?

“What is femininity anyway?” Jenner writes in her new book, The Secrets of My Life. Perhaps the famous trans woman Christine Jorgensen knew.
Wrigley's gum painting

How Wrigley Chewed Its Way to Gum Greatness

William Wrigley, Jr. started off as a soap salesman and became a prodigy of consumerism. He sold Americans chewing gum with claims of health benefits.
US Army Philippines War poster

The Ugly Origins of America’s Involvement in the Philippines

The American use of torture, then called the "water cure," in the Philippines during the war of 1899-1902 shocked some Americans of the day.
Draft riots

Race and Labor in the 1863 New York City Draft Riots

In July 1863, over a thousand Irish dockworkers rioted against the Civil War draft in New York City in a four-day upheaval, targeting black workers and citizens.
Illustration of Karl Polanyi

Gareth Dale on the Past and Future of Capitalism

An interview with Gareth Dale on his work on Karl Polanyi, and the past and future of capitalism.
Aristocratic family

Noblesse Oblige in American Politics

What responsibility does the very wealthy have to the rest of the population? United States governor Winthrop Rockefeller provides a historical case study.