The History of Slavery: America’s Black Mark

Though slavery in America has long since been illegal in the United States, the ramifications of the African slave trade that almost broke the new nation are still felt throughout American society, politics, and culture today.

While the rest of the world had long engaged in the forced servitude of people throughout history, America was introduced to the first African slaves by Dutch merchants in 1619, which spiraled into more than two hundred years of an economic reliability on slaves.

However, the enslavement of Africans in the New World was just one faction of slavery in America, with the forced servitude of Native Americans throughout the American Southwest and California also being present, and resulting in the genocide of many Native Americans throughout the territories.

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The Louisiana Purchase: America’s Big Expansion

With the ink of the Revolutionary War Treaty of Paris documents barely dried, the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 took the fledgling American nation from being 13 colonies that stretched to the Mississippi, to a country that encompassed everything from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Not only did the land acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase doubled the small nation’s property, but it proved Thomas Jefferson’s hopes of a farming, agriculturally-led country with a thriving middle class and the dreams of a grand, progressive and democratic society would become a reality.

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The Wild, Wild West: America’s Final Frontier

The very word “West” in American history has all sorts of different connotations; from cowboys and Indians to dust bowls and Davy Crockett, the American West is as diverse as it is expansive. The drive that led the Founding Fathers, and particular Thomas Jefferson, to seek agreements that would allow American soil to stretch from sea to sea, is one that shaped, and shook the very foundations of the republic. American progress has been defined by the Manifest Destiny, a 19th century belief that the growth of the American nation to encompass the entirety of the Americas was inevitable—but it also presented many strifes.

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Boil, Bubble, Toil, and Trouble: The Salem Witch Trials

Salem Witch Trials

In a world popularly obsessed with the occult (the phenoms of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings come to mind), it seems hardly plausible that the past murders of American “witches” were not only accepted but encouraged in history. For those unfamiliar with the Salem Witch Trials—the killing of 14 women and six men between the years of 1692 and 1693 in Salem, Massachusetts—however, the events are no ghost story.

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Judging Evil in the Trial of Rudolph Kastner

Abraham Lincoln

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When Hannah Arendt came to Jerusalem in 1961 to attend the Eichmann trial she expected to find Evil incarnated in the person of Eichmann. How surprised she was to see the man in the glass booth. The word she used repeatedly to describe him was “mediocre,” referring to the very average qualities of his person.[1] To Arendt the dissonance between Eichmann’s horrifying actions and the bureaucratic character of the man demanded an explanation. Like so many of us, Arendt’s conception of evil had been informed by great works of art, but the reality of this villain did not fit her expectations.

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How the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party Lost Its Way

Australian Labour Party

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At the time I addressed the Annual General Meeting of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History last September and told how the Hawke Government’s Wages Accord had resulted in a reduction in the real wage of low and middle wage earners, while the real salaries of the more highly paid, had skyrocketed to record levels, the ACTU Secretary, Greg Combet, declared:

Average working hours have grown steadily since 1983, to the point where we now have the second longest average working hours for full time employees in the OECD and the largest proportion of people working more than 50 hours a week… There is widespread frustration in union ranks about politicians and political Parties. There is a justifiable feeling that much more could be done to assist working people and union organisation, particularly by Labor Governments. [1]

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