American History

RECENT POSTS

Map: How America’s Immigrant Population Changed Over the Last Century

Includes interactive maps

America’s immigrant population today looks a lot different than it did 100 years ago, during the nation’s last wave of immigration. And while this may come as little surprise (a century is a long time, after all), the degree of demographic contrast is striking.

The interactive maps below are based on tabulations by Jens Manuel Kroogstad at Pew Research, using data from the 2009-2011 American Community Surveys and the 1910 Census. Birthplace is self-reported by respondents, and countries of origin and U.S. states are defined by their modern-day boundaries. Click the tabs above the map to select year.

1910

2010

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Demystifying California’s Top-Two Primary System

acgov.org

How it works

The top-two system made its debut in 2012  after voters approved Proposition 14 two years earlier. But this is the first primary where the new rules take effect in statewide races.

The basic gist: you can vote for any candidate in a particular race regardless of political party affiliation. That’s because every candidate from every party is lumped together in one big political crock pot (yes, that’s crock, not crack). And for most state races, any voter can choose a candidate from any party. Continue reading

Old Enough to Drive, Too Young to Vote: Rethinking America’s Voting Age Limits

Includes videos

Flickr/Liz the Librarian

They all pay sales tax. They have to abide by the same laws as everyone else. And many are old enough to work and get behind the wheel. But for teenagers under 18, the right to vote remains elusive.

And that’s not fair say many student rights groups across the country who for years have pushed to lower America’s voting age to 16. In a nation with notoriously low levels of voter turnout, advocates argue, allowing more young people to vote would boost civic participation and give students a much needed voice.

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Why Thousands of California Felons May Soon Get Their Voting Rights Restored

State prison inmates in Chino by Kevork Djansezian/Getty

California inmates in a Chino prison (Kevork Djansezian/Getty)

You can’t vote in California if you’re serving time in state prison or released on parole.

But you can vote if you’re doing time in county jail for a misdemeanor or released on probation.

[RELATED: Interactive map of felon voting laws by state]

Simple enough, right?

Not really. Continue reading

A Brief History of May Day and the Battle for the 8-Hour Work Day

Includes videos

The Haymarket affair, as depicted in a Harper’s Magazine engraving (Wikimedia Commons)


For some, May Day is a time to prance like a wood nymph around a flower-wreathed pole. But that’s probably not what thousands of workers around the world have in mind when they take to the streets today. Continue reading

Income Inequality in America, An Illustrated Guide

Includes illustrated infographic

IncomeInequality_slice2A few years ago, Occupy Wall Street protests spread like wildfire in cities across the country, forcing a focus on America’s gaping income gaps. The issue took center stage for a time, making headlines, grabbing the attention of elected leaders and sparking some hope that real change was within reach. But when the protest camps were dismantled and the media crews packed up their equipment, the nation’s attention quickly shifted elsewhere. In the end not much had changed. Today the income divide remains as steep as it was the day the protests began. Cartoon journalist Andy Warner explains just how deep America’s economic divide really is. (Sources listed below graphic)

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What Do Your Taxes Actually Pay For?

Includes visualizations

2100_biz_taxforms_0713When Benjamin Franklin wrote that “in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” he left out a third inevitability: fierce disagreements over tax rates and spending.

As long as our government spends a lot more than it takes in, taxation will continue to be a cause of strife between conservatives and liberals, the former fighting for lower taxes and smaller government; the latter for higher taxes on the wealthy and increased revenue for public services. It’s like a boring version of the NeverEnding Story (without cool flying animals). Continue reading

Explaining the Latest Supreme Court Ruling on Campaign Spending Limits

SCOTUS DecisionThe Supreme Court on Wednesday removed a 40-year-old cap on the total amount of cash  individuals can contribute to political candidates and party committees. The latest in a string of rulings chipping away at longstanding campaign finance limits, the court’s 5-to-4 decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission is expected to let new flood of money pour into America’s already cash-saturated political process.

What the decision actually does

It removes the cap on the combined amount of cash that any one person can directly give to candidates running for federal office, or to political party committees. Continue reading

Eight Short Videos to Help Make Some Sense of the Conflict in Ukraine

Includes videos

So much for the “spirit of international brotherhood” that the Olympics was supposed to inspire.

The crisis in Ukraine has reached a boiling point, with tensions between the United States and Russia at a level not seen since the Cold War. But in spite of the sometimes alarmist deluge of round-the-clock media coverage, it’s surprisingly challenging to sift through the noise and get a good grip on what’s actually going on. These seven short videos do a good job getting to the point and explaining specific aspects of the confrontation.

The latest developments (as of March 16)


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