Thinking about history 80 years ago

US Navy Photo of Pearl Harbor

By Ande Jacobson

“December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy….” That happened 80 years ago today. I’m way too young to have heard that speech live the day after the attack, but my parents lived through it. I was pretty young when my father died, so I don’t know much about his personal experiences growing up, but my mother told me many stories from her childhood including her recollections of their lives during the war. Although she was pretty young, she remembers the terror it created around her. She talked about the measures that the country took to support the war effort and how everyone pulled together in a way that seemed impossible even half a century later, although even as a young child she was also painfully aware of the limits of who was considered American even then. My grandfather worked for the U.S. Postal Service and was considered a critical worker. He was also just a hair too old to join the military and worked two jobs during the war to support the many dependents of the multigenerational extended family living under their roof. It was a difficult time and success wasn’t guaranteed, but they survived. Sometime later when my mother and my aunt were a little bit older, my grandmother also started working for the post office. Continue reading

How the South Won the Civil War unmasks the American paradox

By Ande Jacobson

Professor Heather Cox Richardson, a prominent professor of American history at Boston College, has gained notoriety in the last several months as the author of a popular series entitled “Letters from an American” which appear on her website as well as on her professional Facebook page on a nightly basis. She began writing these letters in early November 2019 in response to numerous questions she received trying to make sense of the political events of the day. In these letters she provides a nightly roundup of the day’s political news, and along the way, she provides lessons delving the depths of American history to show where many of these ideas and tactics originated. On April 1, 2020 (after she was well into her nightly series), her latest book, How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America, was released. In this book, she describes what she refers to as the American paradox. This paradox is based on the principle that throughout American history, equality depended on inequality. She shows how this paradox started before the founding of the country and ripples throughout our nation’s history driving much of the division we see in American society today. Continue reading