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Author: Heather Cox Richardson

Labor Day 1882: Very first parade emphasized value of workers for the economy as a warning to politicians

One hundred and forty years ago, on September 5, 1882, workers in New York City celebrated the first Labor Day holiday with a parade. The parade almost did not happen: there was no band, and no one wanted to start marching without music. Once the Jewelers Union of Newark Two showed up with musicians, the rest of the marchers, eventually numbering between 10,000 and 20,000 men and women, fell in behind them to parade through lower Manhattan. At noon, when they reached the end of the route, the march broke up and the participants listened to speeches, drank beer,...

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A manufactured crisis: Beijing resents when a democracy like Taiwan gets too close to America

In early August, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a Democratic delegation commanded headlines when they traveled to Taiwan, an independently governed East Asian country made up of 168 islands on which about 24 million people live, and which China claims. Since 1979 the U.S. has helped to maintain the defensive capabilities of the democratically governed area, although it has been vague about whether it would intervene if China attacks Taiwan. Pelosi’s visit made her the highest-ranking U.S. politician to visit Taiwan since 1997, when Republican speaker Newt Gingrich visited the self-ruled island. Pelosi and a delegation of House Democrats...

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At long last: President Joe Biden calls out MAGA Republicans for their threat of being “semi-fascists”

In a speech on August 25, President Joe Biden called out today’s MAGA Republicans for threatening “our personal rights and economic security … They’re a threat to our very democracy.” When he referred to them as “semi-fascists,” he drew headlines, some of them disapproving. A spokesperson for the Republican National Committee called the comment “despicable,” although Republicans have called Democrats “socialists” now for so long it passes as normal discourse. Just this week, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) called Democrats “radical left-wing lunatics, laptop liberals, and Marxist misfits.” Biden’s calling out of today’s radical Republicans mirrors the moment on June...

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Obstruction of Justice: Behind Trump’s concealment of classified documents stolen from the government

President Joe Biden’s record is unexpectedly strong going into the midterms, and he is directly challenging Republicans on the issues they formerly considered their own. On August 30, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, he challenged the Republicans on their claim to be the party of law and order, calling out their recent demands to “defund” the FBI and saying he wants to increase funding for law enforcement to enable it to have more social workers, mental health care specialists, and so on. He noted that law enforcement officers want a ban on assault weapons and that he would work to pass...

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Dreams of Civil Rights: Why Americans are still fighting the same fights a hundred years later

On August 19, 1920, the Tennessee legislature ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by the narrow vote of 50 to 49. A mirror of the Fifteenth Amendment protecting the right of Black men to vote, the new amendment read: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” Like the momentum for the Fifteenth Amendment, the push for rights for women had taken root during the Civil...

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I am not a crook: When Nixon preferred to step down as America’s president rather than admit his own guilt

Early in the morning on June 17, 1972, Frank Wills, a 24-year-old security guard at the Watergate Office Building in Washington DC, noticed that a door lock had been taped open. He ripped off the tape and closed the door, but when he went on the next round, he found the door taped open again. He called the police, who found five burglars in the Democratic National Committee headquarters located in the building. And so it began. The U.S. president, Richard M. Nixon, was obsessed with the idea that opponents were trying to sink his campaign for reelection. The...

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