RealClearHistory Articles

Is Irish-American Experience Another Victim of Social-Justice Agenda?

Robert Cherry - January 16, 2022

In a controversial move, the NYC Tenement Museum has added a black family to its mix, one that neither lived in the tenement nor was an immigrant.  Moreover, the museum’s accompanying decision to replace its Irish tour with one that combines the experience of both Irish and black families has upset the Irish-American community.  The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) stated, "While the AOH respects and supports telling the stories of all heritages, it should not be a zero-sum game where telling the story of one heritage comes at the price of eliminating another. The history of...

Revisiting Revel's 'The Totalitarian Temptation'

Francis P. Sempa - January 11, 2022

Socialism has become popular again in certain U.S. political circles. Openly avowed socialists, such as New York Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Missouri Rep. Cori Bush, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, exercise an inordinate amount of influence in the Democratic Party. The leftist journal In These Times featured a headline in January 2021 that read “Congress Has More Socialists Than Ever Before in U.S. History.” In Gallup’s 2020 poll, 45% of respondents said they would vote for a qualified socialist candidate for president. In...

Forgotten Champion: Ezzard Charles

John P. Rossi - January 5, 2022

For the first half of the 20th century there were only two sports that held a national following: professional baseball, which reigned as America’s “national game” and strangely enough, professional boxing, especially the heavyweight division.  College football was largely an alumni phenomenon with the exception of Notre Dame and its largely Catholic subway alumni, and the military academies during World War II. Professional football, basketball and hockey were minor-league sports with limited followings. Golf and tennis were sports for the rich.  Heavyweight...

Mourning, Merriment, and Hazardous History of Holiday Lights

Chelsea Follett - December 22, 2021

Spectacular twinkling displays are a staple of the holiday season, from elaborately lit homes to drive-through light shows. But electric lights are more than a charming way to ward off the winter gloom; they have also made this time of year considerably safer than in the past.  The first Christmas lights were candles. The practice of placing lit candles on Christmas trees dates to at least 1660 in Germany. Placing candles in windows may have originated with early American colonists. Whatever their origin, candles placed in windows and on trees became a widespread...


Churchill’s Grim Warning About Science, Human Nature, and the Future

Francis P. Sempa - December 5, 2021

The BBC reports that citizens in Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, and Croatia are publicly protesting (sometimes violently) new restrictions imposed by their governments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The restrictions include lockdowns, vaccine passports, vaccine mandates, and broader masking requirements. Austria’s chancellor announced that nationwide compulsory vaccinations will begin Feb. 1, 2022. In the United States, meanwhile, the CDC has recommended vaccines for young children and teenagers -- ages 5 and older. And Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH -- who has served as our...

Happy 'Franksgiving?' FDR's Take on National Holiday

Howard Tanzman - November 22, 2021

Thanksgiving was not a national holiday when first celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621.  For one thing, there was no nation to have a national holiday in 1621. More than 150 years later, after the United States became independent, George Washington issued this proclamation: "Congress has…requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public Thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God… I … assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these...

Eisenhower's Farewell Address -- and Afterthoughts

Francis P. Sempa - November 21, 2021

Historians and journalists quite frequently invoke President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address to the nation, which he delivered on Jan. 17, 1961, but seldom do we hear anyone invoke Eisenhower’s later “Afterthoughts,” which he set forth at the end of the second volume of his memoirs, Waging Peace, published in 1965. There are gems of wisdom in both.  In his farewell address, Eisenhower famously warned about the growing influence in the United States of the “military-industrial complex.” Less known is that the former president also warned in that...

Analyzing C-SPAN's Best-Worst President's List

Howard Tanzman - November 16, 2021

C-SPAN recently released its fourth historian’s survey ranking presidents from best to worst. Their previous surveys were performed in 2000, 2009, and 2017. Historians rated the presidents on 10 characteristics: Public Persuasion Crises Leadership Economic Management Moral Authority International Relations Administrative Skills Relations with Congress Vision / Setting an Agenda Pursued Equal Justice for All Performance within the Context of times The top four presidents in the poll have remained unchanged – Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, and Teddy...


Lovable 'Second Bananas'

Steve Feinstein - November 8, 2021

Those lovable "Second Bananas." These are the people and things that aren’t the stars, the ones who don’t get the attention, the ones who don’t get to bask in the limelight. These are the people and equipment that hold things together — often under very trying circumstances — until the Big Cheese comes along and saves the day. But they provide an invaluable service, stemming the tide until the superior permanent solution finally arrives on the scene. Without the Second Bananas, the "Stars" would never even get the chance to perform their well-known magic. In...

James Burnham and 1956 Hungarian Uprising

Francis P. Sempa - October 31, 2021

On Oct. 23, 1956, students in Hungary conducted a large protest march in Budapest, demanding that the current communist regime of Matayas Rakosi be removed, that Soviet troops be withdrawn from the country, and that a new government led by communist reformer Imre Nagy institute economic reforms and guarantee political freedom. Similar protests had occurred earlier that year in Poland. And that same year, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had denounced Stalin in a “secret” speech at the Party Congress. In 1956, the foundations of the Soviet empire were shaking.  The protests in...

For Allman Brothers, Tragedy Bore Success

Jon Caroulis - October 28, 2021

On the night of Dec. 29, 1973, at the Philadelphia Spectrum, a crowd of about 20,000 people heard the soaring, ethereal notes of Dickey Betts' new solo on his hit song, Ramblin' Man. It was full of energy, so much so that it fed into the audience, who began to rise and applaud Betts while he was still playing. He wrapped up the song, and the band began playing Jessica. I thought the building would shake.  It was the final step on his journey that started two years before, on Oct. 29, 1971. Fifty years ago, Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident. It was a terrible irony that...

Censorship Scared Horror Comics to Death

Caleb Franz - October 26, 2021

“...I think there ought to be a law against them. Tonight, I’m going to show you why.”  That’s how Los Angeles newscaster Paul Coates opened up a 25-minute broadcast special on Oct. 9, 1955. Without context, you might assume he’s talking about drugs, guns, or alcohol, but you’d be wrong. His broadcast, entitled "Confidential File: Horror Comic Books," made the case for banning horror comics. Throughout the program, Coates introduced many parents and households to the shocking nature of horror and crime comics prevalent in the 1950s. Admittedly, many of...


A Forgotten Tragedy: End of Irish War of Independence

John Rodden and John Rossi - October 15, 2021

July 4 is justly celebrated as a great and glorious event in American history, the public declaration of our independence.  Yet how many Irish-Americans — or for that matter, even many Irishmen — tend to remember that, just a week later, marks the formal date of Ireland’s own independence?   July 11 a century ago, the War of Independence — which historians call the Anglo-Irish War — officially ended. A truce signed on July 8 between the Irish and British negotiators, which took effect on July 11, 1921 finally ended a brutal, bitter conflict that...

Short Retrospective: Muhammad Ali

Steve Feinstein - October 11, 2021

PBS recently aired a four-part, eight-hour documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns on the life, times and career of Muhammad Ali, the famous boxer and social activist who had an outsized presence on the world’s sporting and cultural stages for 40 straight years. At the very height of his notoriety, it could be argued that Ali was the single most recognized individual anywhere in the world. Burns’ past documentaries on complex and diverse topics like the Civil War, baseball, the Roosevelts and jazz have received almost universally positive reviews for their historical accuracy and...

Lessons From Employer Vaccination Mandates

William J. Watkins - October 3, 2021

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave its blessing to a COVID-19 vaccine for use on a non-emergency basis. Now millions of Americans could face employer mandates: get your shots or lose your job. The $64 question is whether the courts will let employers make vaccination a condition of employment. In Alexander Hamilton’s America the answer is yes.  In the early days of the American Republic, Thomas Jefferson and Hamilton offered competing visions for the future. Jefferson advocated a country built on a human scale. He urged widespread land ownership so that Americans could...

Churchill Truly Understood Communism and Socialism

Francis P. Sempa - September 28, 2021

In the United States and the West, a new generation needs to be educated about the dangers of communism and socialism. A few years ago, a survey by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation revealed that that 70 percent of millennials support socialism and one-third of them have a favorable view of communism. A 2019 Harris Poll noted that Generation Z (those born in 1995 or later) “has a more positive view of the word ‘socialism’ than previous generations, and -- along with millennials -- is more likely to embrace socialistic policies and principles than past...


The Conundrum of Relating History

Michael DiMatteo - September 25, 2021

It’s a curious thing. As decades and centuries pass by, what was once considered grand, wonderful, stupendous, or any other superlative we wish to attach becomes terrible, horrible, suspect, or simply wrong. Much of the time that “wrongness” is reflected in morality, that most chameleon of human reason chock full of emotion. The case of Edward III of England is great example. Shortly after his life ended and historians wrote about him, his deeds were seen as the pantheon of kingly behavior, and his prowess in battle the stuff of legend. Historians forgave his treatment of...

Why Jihadists Picked Sept. 11 to Attack U.S.

Joseph Micallef - September 19, 2021

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the commandeering of four commercial airliners by a group of Islamic jihadists. The planes were subsequently used to attack the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The fourth plane, its intended target being either the Capitol Building or the White House, was brought down when its passengers attacked the jihadist hijackers. The details of those tragedies are well known, so I won’t repeat them here. What is less known is why the hijackers chose the date of Sept. 11 on which to stage their attacks. That answer requires a deep...

Harpers Ferry: Largest Union Surrender of Civil War

Francis P. Sempa - September 13, 2021

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, is most remembered as the site where the abolitionist zealot John Brown was captured by U.S. forces commanded by Col. Robert E. Lee after Brown and his armed men raided the arsenal there in what was supposed to be the first step in an armed struggle to free all of the slaves in the United States. But Harper’s Ferry was also the scene of the largest surrender of Union troops in the Civil War, after a three-day battle was fought there on Bolivar Heights in September 1862. The town of Harper’s Ferry is located at the confluence of the Potomac and...

The Other 9/11 ... at 225: Twin Towers? A Pair of “9/11s” That Shook the World

John Rodden - September 10, 2021

Twenty years ago tomorrow, the 21st century opened with a day of convulsive events whose consequences are still being felt in our thinking about global travel, national security, and international relations.  The unforgettable images of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers in New York City will doubtless remain haunting, iconic, and traumatic for tens of millions of Americans and for decades to come. And not just for Americans: “9/11” is so universally famous — or notorious — throughout the globe that those numerals can be stated without mentioning the year....