Upset with the results of the 1856 presidential election, a group of particularly angry rabble rousers gathered at the old City Hall in Worcester in January 1857 and demanded the immediate dissolution of the United States of America.
(The Boston Globe)


Let’s Not Forget the Socialism in the Resurrection of Socialist Art

The reputation of William Gropper, a radical and prophetic artist, once hounded out of work by the forces of reaction, is being restored at just the moment when the political faith he subscribed to has come back into vogue. Here, and not only here, it is watered down in the process. Asked how she went about presenting Gropper’s radical politics in a way that would be accessible for a general audience, the exhibit’s curator told me it required “walking a fine line in terms of celebrating somebody who did cross all of the lines.”
(The Nation)


For the founders, only the rich were truly above corruption by “partial considerations.” The same argument has been somewhat less eloquently stated in our own time by noted political theorist Donald Trump. (The Boston Globe)


Given the state’s constant delegitimization of itself in ways blatant and deadly as well as obscure and small, how can anyone be surprised that demagogues are finding an American audience receptive to the notion of taking back the government? (The Baffler)

At a time when photography has become cheapened by its proliferation, the rebirth of the stereoscope may help to revitalize what made photography so precious and so powerful in its early days, when it introduced an entirely new way of seeing people, places, and things. But that potential also carries some risks.
(The Boston Globe)


“Reenacting the Civil War, to me, is a blow to the myth of white supremacy in this country,” James said. “It gives you a different image. The USCT were black men with rifles, and they changed the world.” (The Baffler)


Samuel Bowles’s passages on the Indians, in Across the Continent, make clear that one of the primary motives behind their near-extermination was a desire to make the passage west safer and more economical. Implicated in the very idea of the American road trip, then, are some deeply unsettling notions about what Bowles calls, in a standard formulation of his time, “the subjugation and civilization of the continent.” (The Boston Globe)


In Gateway to Freedom, Eric Foner. quotes an abolitionist editor describing fugitive slaves as “self-emancipated persons.” His books will continue to be read as long as Americans, perilously free, journey north. (The Nation)


The republication of the poet’s Civil War book serves as a timely reminder that Whitman was not so much reveling in the carnage of a country divided as hoping that, in his poetry, readers would find the resources for national reconstruction, in the most profound sense. (The Boston Globe)


Not once or twice but on six occasions does the magazine’s editor describe its brand of liberalism as “hardened” or “hardheaded.” That is not counting his declaration that liberalism’s “expectations for politics and human nature remain on the hard ground, not up in the utopian sky.” This in a volume containing George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” (crassly promoted online as “George Orwell’s Brilliant Guide to Writing Well”). (The Nation)