Law and Order and the Last Great Strike in America

by Ahmed White, author of The Last Great Strike: Little Steel, the CIO, and the Struggle for Labor Rights in New Deal America

Several weeks into Donald Trump’s presidency, millions of Americans have skipped work, walked off their jobs, or otherwise demonstrated in protest of his policies. Many others are planning to do so in the weeks ahead. For those of us who study strikes and protests, these developments are at once thrilling and portentous, particularly in light of the peculiar place that strikes occupy in our country’s history. For most of American history since the late Nineteenth Century, it was quite a normal thing for people to go out on strike. In 1937, for instance, over 7 percent of American workers went out on strike; in 1946, that number reached 10 percent. Even as recently as 1970, almost six million men and women spent some time out on strike. But recently strikes have been exceedingly uncommon with only a handful each year. Even most union members have never been on strike.

Why are strikes so uncommon? The reasons are complicated, but one important thing stands out. The strikes of the 1930s and 1940s, especially, were extremely effective. They built the modern labor movement, upheld the New Deal against reactionary attacks, and ensured the foundations of the postwar political system. But precisely because they were so effective, the strikes were the targets of relentless counterattack by powerful business interests and their allies in government. At first, the dominant response to strikes in this period was a rather simple and venerable one. Strikes were considered presumptively illegitimate and often met with naked force, only crudely justified by law. Put into practice, this approach left probably 200 workers dead in the 1930s alone. However, later in that decade, even as some of the most violent strikes were still unfolding, the approach to strikes was rebuilt around the notion that, while the right was guaranteed by federal law and the U.S. Constitution, it was far from absolute and had to yield if strikers were violent or coercive. Although superficially reasonable, the real import of this new approach was to make the kinds of strikes that promised to be effective also the most costly for strikers and most likely to be found unlawful. And not because only disorderly strikes could be effective, but because even the anticipation of coercion or violence on the part of strikers was enough to justify arresting them, firing them, enjoining their picket lines, and using lawful force against them. Nor was the fact that strikers might have been provoked to act in these ways much of an excuse. The most notable example of this new approach can be found in one of the most tragic episodes in the history of protest: the 1937 “Little Steel” Strike, in which steel companies and their allies killed at least sixteen strikers in order to break a strike which they had caused, and yet paid almost no penalty for doing so. So it was that the repression of strikes was brought in line with modern notions of law and order.

Of course this all happened a long time ago, in the unique context of the labor movement and the labor law. But the approach to the law and politics that underlie it are broadly established in American law and provide the basis of an important caution to anti-Trump protesters who may not be familiar with this story. That caution is this: These protests may never be particularly effective. So far, their effects seem pretty modest and the response to them relatively mild. But if they do succeed in challenging powerful interests in government and business, they are not unlikely to become the target of a campaign of repression which will paint them as irresponsible enemies of the social good, regardless of how protesters have actually comported themselves. The history of striking in America tell us that you can bet on that.


Ahmed White is a Professor of Law at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His scholarship centers on the intersection of labor and criminal law and on the concept of rule of law.


Upholding Lincoln’s Legacy: How Can Governments and Citizens Build a World Without Slavery?

In recognition of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, we observe his greatest, most lasting accomplishment: the abolition of slavery. Through this lens, we look at the historic and modern day slave trade to ask the question: how can governments and citizens build a world without slavery?

The U.S. State Department, in their 2016 Trafficking in Persons report, estimated that there are currently more than twenty million people worldwide trapped in human trafficking, a $150 billion industry. How does this happen? And what role does trafficking play in capitalism? We’ve compiled a selection of recommended titles that explore the ways in which slavery and human trafficking, historically and currently, are tightly interwoven into global economies.

Margins of the Market: Trafficking and Capitalism across the Arabian Sea by Johan Mathew

What is the relationship between trafficking and free trade? Is trafficking the perfection or the perversion of free trade? Trafficking occurs thousands of times each day at borders throughout the world, yet we have come to perceive it as something quite extraordinary.  In Margins of the Market, Johan Mathew traces the hidden networks that operated across the Arabian Sea in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Following the entangled history of trafficking and capitalism, he explores how the Arabian Sea reveals the gaps that haunt political borders and undermine economic models. Ultimately, he shows how capitalism was forged at the margins of the free market, where governments intervened, and traffickers turned a profit.

 

Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, Updated with a New Preface by Kevin Bales

Kevin Bales’s disturbing story of slavery today reaches from brick kilns in Pakistan and brothels in Thailand to the offices of multinational corporations. His investigation of conditions in Mauritania, Brazil, Thailand, Pakistan, and India reveals the tragic emergence of a “new slavery,” one intricately linked to the global economy. The new slaves are not a long-term investment as was true with older forms of slavery, explains Bales. Instead, they are cheap, require little care, and are disposable. Through vivid case studies, Bales observes the complex economic relationships of modern slavery and offers suggestions for combating the practice, including “naming and shaming” corporations linked to slavery.

 

Pirates, Merchants, Settlers, and Slaves: Colonial America and the Indo-Atlantic World by Kevin P. McDonald 

In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, more than a thousand pirates poured from the Atlantic into the Indian Ocean. There, according to Kevin P. McDonald, they helped launch an informal trade network that spanned the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds, connecting the North American colonies with the rich markets of the East Indies. Rather than conducting their commerce through chartered companies based in London or Lisbon, colonial merchants in New York entered into an alliance with Euro-American pirates based in Madagascar. Pirates, Merchants, Settlers, and Slaves explores the resulting global trade network located on the peripheries of world empires and shows the illicit ways American colonists met the consumer demand for slaves and East India goods.

 

Many Middle Passages: Forced Migration and the Making of the Modern World edited by Emma Christopher, Cassandra Pybus, and Marcus Rediker 

This groundbreaking book presents a global perspective on the history of forced migration over three centuries and illuminates the centrality of these vast movements of people in the making of the modern world. Highly original essays from renowned international scholars trace the history of slaves, indentured servants, transported convicts, bonded soldiers, trafficked women, and coolie and Kanaka labor across the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. Together, the essays provide a truly global context for understanding the experience of men, women, and children forced into the violent and alienating experience of bonded labor in a strange new world.

 


The Black Panther Party’s Ten-Point Program

Last October marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California, when, in 1966, college students Bobby Seale and Huey Newton vowed to prevent police brutality against black communities. In the face of intense repression, the Party flourished, becoming the center of a revolutionary movement with offices in sixty-eight U.S. cities and powerful allies around the world.

Today, the Party’s fight against police brutality continues to inspire activists and organizers, who look to develop new ways of organizing as tools and methods change and current events shift. In the new preface to Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party, authors Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr. place the Black Panther Party in today’s political landscape, especially as it relates to Black Lives Matter. They write:

Like the Black Panther Party, #BlackLivesMatter and other contemporary activists have coupled confrontational tactics with community organizing and sought to challenge racism by mobilizing against police brutality. And again, today antiracist activists face repression including state surveillance, arrests, and coordinated public vilification. As in the 1960s, the forces of racial retrenchment are eager to move on without disturbing the basic arrangements of white privilege. . . . Indeed, each generation must make its own history, under new conditions, in new ways. Rather than emulating the specifics, we believe that developing effective antiracist practices today requires emulating the general political dynamic common to both the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panther Party.

Included in the book is The Black Panther Party’s Ten-Point Program. First publicized in the the second issue of the organization’s newspaper, Black Panther, on May 15, 1967, the platform and program, titled “What We Want Now! What We Believe,” was a set of guidelines written by Newton and Seale that emphasized the Party’s ideals and commitment to advancing a revolution that addressed the needs of the black community. It appeared in every succeeding issue of the newspaper.

The original Ten Point Program read:

What We Want Now! What We Believe

To those poor souls who don’t know Black history, the beliefs and desires of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense may seem unreasonable. To Black people, the ten points covered are absolutely essential to survival. We have listened to the riot producing words “these things take time” for 400 years. The Black Panther Party knows what Black people want and need. Black unity and self defense will make these demands a reality.

What We Want

  1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black community.
  2. We want full employment for our people.
  3. We want an end to the robbery by the White man of our Black community.
  4. We want decent housing, fit for shelter [of] human beings.
  5. We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present day society.
  6. We want all Black men to be exempt from military service.
  7. We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of Black people.
  8. We want freedom for all Black men held in federal, state, county, and city prisons and jails.
  9. We want all Black people when brought to trial to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their Black communities. As defined by the constitution of the United States.
  10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace.

What We Believe

  1. We believe that Black people will not be free until we are able to determine our destiny.
  2. We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every man employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the White American business men will not give full employment, then the means of production should be taken from the business men and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.
  3. We believe that this racist government has robbed us and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules was promised 100 years ago as retribution for slave labor and mass murder of Black people. We will accept the payment in currency which will be distributed to our many communities: the Germans are now aiding the Jews in Israel for the genocide of the Jewish people. The Germans murdered 6,000,000 Jews. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of over 50,000,000 Black people; therefore, we feel that this is a modest demand that we make.
  4. We believe that if the White landlords will not give decent housing to our Black community, then the housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that our community, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for its people.
  5. We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of self. If a man does not have knowledge of himself and his position in society and the world, then he has little chance to relate to anything else.
  6. We believe that Black people should not be forced to fight in the military service to defend a racist government that does not protect us. We will not fight and kill other people of color in the world who, like Black people, are being victimized by the White racist government of America. We will protect ourselves from the force and violence of the racist police and the racist military, by whatever means necessary.
  7. We believe we can end police brutality in our Black community by organizing Black self defense groups that are dedicated to defending our Black community from racist police oppression and brutality. The Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States gives us a right to bear arms. We therefore believe that all Black people should arm themselves for self defense.
  8. We believe that all Black people should be released from the many jails and prisons because they have not received a fair and impartial trial.
  9. We believe that the courts should follow the United States Constitution so that Black people will receive fair trials. The 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives a man a right to be tried by his peer group. A peer is a person from a similar economic, social, religious, geographical, environmental, historical and racial background. To do this the court will be forced to select a jury from the Black community from which the Black defendant came. We have been, and are being tried by all White juries that have no understanding of the “average reasoning man” of the Black community.
  10. When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature’s god entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

Above the Ten Point Program, under the headline “Minister of Defense,” the Black Panther carried a photo of Huey that served to announce to the world that the vanguard of Black Power had arrived.

Learn more about the history and politics of the Black Panther Party and Black against Empire here.


PBS documentary signals anew the pivotal character of 1995

by W. Joseph Campbell, author of 1995: The Year the Future Began

PBS is set to air on Tuesday an “American Experience” documentary about the deadliest spasm of home-grown terrorism in U.S. history, the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995.

The program revisits a crime staggering in its cruelty. The bomber, a 27-year-old Army veteran of the Gulf War named Timothy McVeigh, parked a rental truck packed with explosives outside the Murrah federal building on the morning of April 19, 1995. He said he intended to punish the federal government for episodes like the fiery disaster two years before at the Branch Davidian compound in Texas, site of a prolonged standoff with the FBI.

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The “field of empty chairs” outdoor memorial that occupies the site of the bombing.

On the Murrah building’s second floor, commanding a view of the street where McVeigh parked the truck, was a day-care center. Among the 168 people killed in the attack were 19 children, the youngest of whom was three-months-old.

McVeigh was executed for his crimes and his principal co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, was sentenced to life in prison.

The forthcoming documentary offers more than reexamination of a wanton terrorist attack: Its airing reminds us of the enduring significance of a watershed year — the subject of 1995: The Year the Future Began, my 2015 book with University of California Press.

It is not difficult to encounter these days telling evidence of the pivotal character of 1995. The ugly 2016 presidential campaign was made uglier by Donald Trump’s periodic references to Bill Clinton’s dalliance with a former White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Clinton’s clandestine affair, which nearly cost him his presidency, began in November 1995 during a partial shutdown of the federal government which, itself, became a source of lasting, bipartisan enmity in national politics.

Popular fascination still percolates about the 1995 O. J. Simpson double-murder trial — as suggested by two critically acclaimed cable series that aired last year on FX and ESPN. The programs, respectively, reenacted the case and revisited Simpson’s celebrated football career and subsequent misdeeds.

The programs were much-watched, suggesting that something in the national consciousness remains unresolved about the Simpson case. Although Simpson was acquitted of viciously killing his former wife and her friend, most Americans now believe he was guilty of the crimes.

An potent measure of lasting importance of any year lies in whether or how long its major events resonate. Clearly, the watershed moments of 1995 reverberate still.

The bombing at Oklahoma City was staggering in its toll, perplexing in its heartland setting, and done without warning. Those elements contributed to a vague but enduring sense of insecurity in America, and the bombing marked the onset of unexpectedly dangerous times.

Indeed, the bombing projected consequences that have been felt long afterward, notably in the rise of preemptive security measures that became ever tighter, and ever more conspicuous, after 1995.9780520273993

Oklahoma City was a wake-up call in domestic security. As I wrote in 1995, the bombing’s lasting consequences lie “not in awakening Americans to the deadly threat of domestic terrorism, nor in exposing vulnerabilities of American life. The epiphany was not of that sort. Rather … the bombing at Oklahoma City signaled the rise of a more guarded, more suspicious, more security-inclined America, of what can be called ‘a national psychology of fear.’”

Striking evidence of a preemptive, security-first mindset emerged soon after the bombing. Before dawn on May 20, 1995, authorities set up concrete barriers to detour vehicular traffic from two blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue nearest the White House in Washington, D.C. The closure was ordered unilaterally, without notice or public debate. And it was permanent.

The capital grew bunker-like after 1995. An architecture of defensiveness became plainly visible and the numerous barriers and steel gates lent a shabby and wary look to the heart of Washington. The Washington Post observed years later that the Oklahoma City bombing “ended the capital’s life as an open city.”

Oklahoma City also re-exposed a deep flaw in American news coverage of sudden and dramatic major events: A tendency to indulge in latent stereotypes and to get it badly wrong.

In the hours after the bombing, suspicions fell squarely if vaguely on Middle East terrorism, and the news media rode that angle hard. Connie Chung, an anchor on CBS, declared, for example: “This is the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil ever. A U.S. government source has told CBS News that it has Middle East terrorism written all over it.”

Shock was thus palpable when, two days after the attack, McVeigh was arrested in the bombing and brought briefly before television cameras. The suspected terrorist was no foreigner. He was not from the Middle East. He was lanky, white, and American.


photo of W. Joseph CampbellW. Joseph Campbell is a professor at American University’s School of Communication in Washington, D.C. He is the author of six books, including 1995: The Year The Future Began.


Immigration Syllabus: UC Press Edition

With last Friday’s executive order on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, along with plans to continue construction of the barrier along the US-Mexico border moving forward, the current presidential administration has brought heightened attention to immigration and American society, and with it, spurred outcry worldwide, and drawn a number of federal lawsuits.

Immigration historians from across the USA have launched #ImmigrationSyllabus, a website and educational resource to help the public understand the historical roots of today’s immigration debates; they have inspired us to follow suit.

Below is a list of UC Press suggested readings, organized in descending order from most recently published, to provide further informed, deeply researched context to the ongoing conversations around immigration reform and citizenship.

Easily and quickly request exam and desk copies online by visiting any of the books’ pages above. If you need assistance in choosing the right texts for your course, we’d be glad to help; contact us here.

Browse more of our history and immigration titles.


J. Edgar Hoover, Martin Luther King, and Some Timely Lessons for the FBI in the Age of Trump

by Steven Weitzman and Sylvester Johnson, editors of The FBI and Religion: Faith and National Security Before and After 9/11

James B. Comey wants you to know FBI and Religionthat the FBI he directs learns from its mistakes.

In 2014, director Comey instituted an effort to do just that, a program meant to help FBI agents and analysts learn from one of the more shameful episodes in FBI history—the effort by former director J. Edgar Hoover to destroy Martin Luther King, Jr. Fueled by Hoover’s suspicion that MLK was a communist, the FBI undertook a scandalous campaign of surveillance and harassment, going so far as to send the civil rights leader an anonymous letter that seems to call on him to kill himself.

Comey’s efforts were born of a resolve not to let this kind of mistake happen again. He has spoken of how he keeps a copy of the memo authorizing the King surveillance on his desk as a reminder of “why it is vital that power. . . be constrained.” The program he initiated is meant to give FBI trainees a chance to reflect on the dangers of corruption and racism. The experience includes watching documentaries, reading about the prejudice MLK faced, and a visit to the MLK memorial in Washington D.C.

As scholars of religion, we’d like to believe that this isn’t mere public relations. As an undergraduate at William and Mary College, Comey majored in Religious Studies, writing a thesis about a theologian committed to social justice, Reinhold Niebuhr. As Arthur Schlesinger once observed, Niebuhr was a critic of national innocence, which he regarded as a self-righteous delusion that Americans used to conceal their crimes from themselves. Comey appeared to take this teaching to heart, distinguishing himself from Hoover by being willing to face up to mistakes and moral blind-spots.

But is Comey himself learning all the lessons there are to learn from Hoover’s treatment of MLK?

In our own research on the FBI and its interaction with different religious communities, we came to realize that it wasn’t only racism that shaped Hoover’s treatment of MLK; religious bias played a role as well. Hoover cast the struggle against communism as a religious struggle, identifying America with Judeo-Christian values and the Soviet Union with a godless secularism bent on the destruction of religion. This Manichean world-view, dividing the world into forces of good and evil, skewed his understanding of people on the religious left. He could not accept that it was sincere belief that may have led leaders on the religious left, leaders like MLK, to oppose war and injustice. In his eyes, such leaders were imposters or dupes, a part of a Communist effort to infiltrate American society under the cover of religion.

Acknowledging the role of religious bias in the FBI’s treatment of MLK is important because of the role that religious bias is now playing in the Federal government’s treatment of a religious minority. Within a week of his inauguration, the Trump administration has prevented Muslim non-citizens from entering the country. Although he refocused his immigration ban on Muslim-majority countries rather than Muslims in general, Trump told Christian Broadcast news that preferential treatment would be given to Christians, making religion a test for how the US would treat refugees from war-torn regions like Syria. The executive order calls to mind the government’s refusal to accept Jewish refugees during World War II on the pretext that some were Nazi spies.

Continue reading “J. Edgar Hoover, Martin Luther King, and Some Timely Lessons for the FBI in the Age of Trump”


“Why Do People March on Washington?” A History of Democracy in Action

Marching on Washington has returned to the center stage of national politics with The Women’s March on Washington in protest of the inauguration of Donald Trump and his administration’s policies. In their official policy platform, the march organizers invoke Martin Luther King Jr, quoting: “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”

In the spirit of the protests and Dr. King’s inspiring words and revolutionary actions, we look back at the history of marching on the capital with Lucy G. Barber’s Marching on Washington: The Forging of an American Political Tradition

In her preface, Barber writes:

Why do people march on W2604050ashington? At times, as when this question was asked with sneering sincerity, I was tempted to respond that people gather because it is their right, which is too simple an answer for a question at the heart of this book. As you will learn while reading, people have not always had the right to march on Washington. It was won for us through the efforts of others. At some level the answer to this question is the same today as it was in 1894, when the first group marched on Washington. People who march on Washington believe that their opinion belongs in their capital, and they want to present it there themselves. They want to be with other people who share their opinion so that they can see each other and so that the rest of us can see them united. That they do so and can do so is something that I hope you will learn to value as an essential part of democracy.

Throughout Marching on Washington, Barber shows just how this tactic achieved its transformation from unacceptable to legitimate, beginning as early as 1894 when Jacob Coxey’s army marched into Washington, D.C., in the first concerted effort by citizens to use the capital for national public protest. Barber demonstrates how such highly visible events—including the women’s suffrage procession in 1913, the veterans’ bonus march in 1932, and the march on Washington for jobs and freedom in 1963, among others—contributed to the development of a broader and more inclusive view of citizenship and transformed the capital from the exclusive domain of politicians and officials into a national stage for Americans to participate directly in national politics.

Since 1894, millions of people have marched on Washington. When I began exploring the history of marches on Washington, I thought that the story would be relatively easy to tell. By exploring how ambitious, skillful, and daring organizers challenged the government for the right to protest in Washington during the twentieth century, I would counter prevailing assumptions at the end of the twentieth century that ordinary people no longer influence national politics. The story turned out to be more complex but also more interesting. Two intertwined and interrelated themes became the focus of my narrative: the changing spatial politics of the capital and the strategic uses of American citizenship. With these lenses, the history of marching on Washington is a story of spaces lost and spaces won. It is a story about the power of American citizens but also about the shifting terrain of citizenship. It is a story about the possibilities and the limits of the tradition of marching on Washington for changing national politics.

To save 40% on Marching on Washington, use code 16W6968 at checkout on our site.


Mapping the Metropolis: Riot!

As we make our way through Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, we’re dipping into some of the maps and essays featured within the atlas—each offering a vividly imagined version of New York that reveals a richly layered, social history. For more peeks inside, head here.


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Detail from the map “Riot! Periodic Eruptions in Volcanic New York,” featured in the book “Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas”

This week, we take a look at New York City’s history of resistance. “However you classify riots,” write the book’s editors, “New York City has been good at them, or at least good at having them. . . . Riots happen when those in charge can contain that energy no more—or fail to give it proper release.”

Walking through New York means passing through sites of popular uprisings and violent clashes, where people took to the streets to protest and make their strife known. In his essay, “The Violence of Inequality,” contributor Luc Sante writes that nearly half of New York’s riots have been about race, beginning as early as 1712.

The Negro Riot of 1712 was New York’s very first social upheaval. Its facts are scant—between twenty and seventy African slaves allegedly set fire to a building on Maiden Lane, then the city’s northern boundary, and attacked whites attempting to douse the flames, killing nine. Of the forty-three slaves arraigned, eighteen were acquitted, twenty hanged, and three burned at the stake. In 1741 the facts are even murkier—a ship was seized, possibly for piracy, and its African crew were sold as slaves, but they managed to break free and burn down a number of houses, including the governor’s mansion. The Doctors Riot of 1788 was sparked by medical students digging up cadavers for dissection from the Negroes Burial Ground. A petition from African American citizens was ignored by the authorities, but when a newspaper article alleged that the body of a white woman had been dug up, citizens attacked the hospital and the violence resulted in some twenty deaths.

In the 19th century, these riots were sometimes sparked by opponents of slavery—the Eagle Street Riot of 1801 began with an attempt to free slaves—and sometimes by supporters, as when anti-abolitionists ransacked the home of an abolitionist and attacked the abolitionist-owned Bowery Theater in 1834.

The white abolitionists of the period tended to be well-educated members of the upper classes; their activities were resented by many in the white working class—mostly Irish Catholic immigrants—who saw free blacks as competing for their jobs and accepting lower wages. Tempers rose to the point of violence in the Anti- Abolitionist Riots of 1834, when a mob ransacked the Rose Street home of the abolitionist Lewis Tappan and attacked the Bowery eater, whose stage manager was a British-born abolitionist—he appeased them by sending out an actor in blackface to sing “Zip Coon.” The Brooklyn Cigar Factory Riot of 1862 was the work of local Irish and German unskilled laborers who resented the fact that African Americans, who commuted from other parts of the city, were employed as skilled cigar rollers and made more money.

The map and Sante’s essay focus on mass eruptions sparked by race as well as those rooted in wealth and class—inequality being a chief theme among these uprisings. 2011’s Occupy Wall Street makes its mark on the map as does the deadliest riot in American history, The Draft Riots of 1863 where thousands of pro-South and pro-slavery New Yorkers lashed out in a deadly mix of racial hatred, economic insecurity, and class warfare as they rampaged through Manhattan, beating and murdering black men, soldiers, and police. But the map also contains some of the weirder and more inexplicable riots in the city, such as the fashion faux-pas that launched a citywide crime spree: The Straw Hat Riot of 1922. 

Take a peek at a few highlights and plots on the map below:

Nonstop Metropolis is available in paperback and hardcover.


Dance RecitalJJ SchapiroNonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas is the final volume in our trilogy of atlases by Rebecca Solnit, Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, Rebecca Snedeker, and a host of notable contributors. Following the publication of the critically lauded Infinite City (San Francisco) and Unfathomable City (New Orleans), we bring you this homage—and challenge—to the way we know and see New York City, in an exquisitely designed and gorgeously illustrated atlas that excavates the many buried layers of all five boroughs of New York City and parts of New Jersey.

Chasing Che and the New Global Latin America

This post is published in conjunction with the American Historical Association conference in Denver, taking place January 5-8.When sharing this post on social media, please be sure to use the hashtag #AHA17!


The opening of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States and continued changes to current Cuban sanctions is just an example of how Latin American countries can impact our global culture, economy, and politics. Yet the impact is usually not so apparent.

Matthew C. Guttmann and Jeffrey Lesser–editors of Global Latin America, part of the new Global Square Series–introduce how Latin American countries have, for quite some time, been global players.

The puzzle that inspired Global Latin America was, Why did we find Che Guevara’s image everywhere we went in the world? Why was a Latin American revolutionary of the 1950s and 1960s so popular among so many people around the globe in 2016? Why was Che easily the most famous Latin American outside the region? Sure, images of the bearded face and beret were often devoid of deep meaning, but there was his image, and we wanted to make sense of it. Trying to understand global Che led us to the larger meanings of global Latin America. …

Che Guevara image on man's cap, Shanghai, 2013. Photo: Matthew Gutmann.
Che Guevara image on man’s cap, Shanghai, 2013. Photo: Matthew Gutmann.

We are often more familiar with the impact of the world on Latin America than with the impact of Latin America on the world. The three C’s Conquest, Colonialism, and Christianity provide a tortured, if better-known story, about how some parts of the world have exercised control over other parts. … Although the significance of Latin America for the rest of the world is not new or sudden, it is ever more apparent. The impact that Latin America has had in the other direction, even though unmistakable, has never been as familiar a narrative. This volume, like the others in the Global Square series, seeks to remind us that regions are not just victims but also global players.

Latin America in 2016 is home to emerging global powers. In 2016, even despite massive downturns economically, Brazil had the seventh largest economy in the world and Mexico was poised to break into the top ten. Latin America is tightly bound to regions from Asia to Africa, from the Middle East to Europe, through commerce and trade, migration, and the arts. In political and economic terms, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico are world leaders, part of the Group of 20 (G20) countries that have greatly expanded membership beyond the old geopolitical leadership of Europe, Japan, and the United States.

In Realpolitik, Latin American leaders from Argentina’s Carlos Menem to Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez have proposed that they are uniquely able to help to resolve global problems, from conflicts in the Middle East to energy to climate change to participatory democracy. Heavy manufacturing in Latin America is reshaping global auto, weapons, and airplane industries. Environmental measures in the enormous Amazon region, positive and negative, are central to global discussions of climate change. Truth commissions formed to document the abuses of past dictatorships in Latin America have become vital reference points for similar efforts from South Africa to Rwanda to Cambodia. …

GutmannLesser.GlobalLatinAmericaGlobal Latin America is for students, business leaders, policy makers, and global travelers interested in better understanding Latin America’s deep entanglements with and influence on our interdependent world. Chapters by academics, politicians, activists, journalists, scientists, and artists shine light on Latin American history, society, and culture. For those who want to appreciate the diversity and global relevance of Latin America in the twenty-first century, this volume collects some of the top scholarship and social analysis about global Latin America today and historically.

 


Julius Caesar, Pericles, and the Rise of Hitler

This post is published in conjunction with the Society for Classical Studies conference in Toronto as well as the American Historical Association conference in Denver, both taking place January 5-8.When sharing this post on social media, please be sure to use the hashtags #AIASCS or #AHA17!


Much has been written about the conditions that made possible Hitler’s rise and the Nazi takeover of Germany, but when we tell the story of the National Socialist Party, should we not also speak of Julius Caesar and Pericles? Greeks, Romans, Germans argues that to fully understand the racist, violent end of the Nazi regime, we must examine its appropriation of the heroes and lessons of the ancient world. Below is an excerpt from author Johann Chapoutot’s introduction.

What strange mania could have pushed the leaders of the Nazi regime, in the midst of the twentieth century, to talk—and to talk so much—about the Greeks and Romans? Or to commission neoclassical works of art and publish articles on the Rome of the Fabii? Or to subject research and education on antiquity to such ideologically driven revisionism?

We think of National Socialism as the apotheosis of racism in both words and deeds. But racism is an exclusionary practice: it is the distinction between friend and enemy based on a strict biological determinism that, taken to extremes, separates those who get to survive from those who must perish—among both the living and the dead. The biological transmission of racial traits precludes any casual dalliance outside the kinship group, any genealogical digression, and demands extreme vigilance and severe patrilineal discipline. There may be several branches of the racial tree, but the integrity and purity of its rootstock must be verified historically. The Germans thus traced their line far back into the distant past of paleontology and the primeval forest (Urwald), through the Teutonic Knights and the Brothers of the Sword (Fratres Militiae Christi), Frederick the Great and Bismarck, to Hindenburg and, finally, Hitler—the chosen one of the prophets and acme of the race. . . . When Rosenberg and Hitler spoke of the Greeks as a “Nordic people,” they did not simply claim their heritage, but rather asserted a form of paternity that turned the concept of lineage on its head: what if they had all come from Germany? This appropriation of the Aryan myth, which had not previously circulated beyond a few nineteenth century German linguists and historians—who had wistfully imagined that the Dorians of Sparta came from the North—was legitimized and racialized by the Nazis in their desire to give credibility to the idea that Germany possessed such greatness that it had given birth to Western civilization. In this way, Rosenberg argued, imitating antiquity was neither “shameful nor incompatible with national dignity,” since it was actually a legitimate reassertion of Indo-Germanic cultural patrimony. . . .

National Socialism offered a myth. Its narration, by the state and its institutions—and especially its artistic and academic organizations—was presented as reality. Its lies were passed off as truth: Nazi discourse did not adapt to describe an external, objective reality; rather, discourse was shaped, internally and self-referentially, to fit the preconceived notions underlying the discourse itself. . . . It was not just the past, and the legitimate pride that one could take from it, that was at stake here, but the future as well. Germans’ new identity, built upon the Nazis’ version of antiquity, was at once a story of origins and an indication of future horizons.

In Greeks, Romans, GermansChapoutot analyzes a wide range of sources to show the Third Reich’s systematic appropriation of antiquity, including the canonical texts of National Socialist ideology, the speeches and theoretical writings, journals, memoirs, and “table talks” by Hitler, Rosenberg, Goebbels, Goering, and Himmler—the men who created and framed Nazi dogma.


Johann Chapoutot is Professor at the Sorbonne, where he teaches contemporary history.