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Congressional History and American Political Development

In recent years, more and more political scientists have set their Wayback Machine[1] for travel to earlier eras in order to study various aspects of congressional history. This trend is remarkable in that, not long ago, most students of Congress focused almost exclusively on contemporaneous events and behaviors, to the point where (testing the boundaries … Continue reading Congressional History and American Political Development

History and Institutions: It’s Complicated

Institutions are a common theme at Broadstreet. Many of us study how institutions have shaped political, economic, and social outcomes in the past. We are interested in different aspects of this problem and we use different approaches. The friction between these produces some sparks, but we needn’t get too distracted by the more adversarial aspects … Continue reading History and Institutions: It’s Complicated

Colonial Institutions and Long-run Development in India

In my last post  I discussed how elites might weaken bureaucratic institutions in anticipation of losing electoral power, a phenomenon I call ``hollowing out the state.” In this post I want to tackle a more fundamental chicken or egg question: do historic institutions even matter? If we believe institutions matter, then they shape political and … Continue reading Colonial Institutions and Long-run Development in India

The Organization of Poltical Space in the American West

In my last post, I discussed what I referred to as the endogeneity of historical data. The basic idea here is that the very existence of the historical records that researchers use to generate quantitative data is often a byproduct of the process being studied. To illustrate this concept, I described how the efforts to … Continue reading The Organization of Poltical Space in the American West

Navigating the Frontier between History and Social Science

The hottest debate in academia the past week has concerned the appropriateness of a new article on “Frontier Culture” by Samuel Bazzi, Martin Fiszbein, and Mesay Gebresilasse. In his post on Monday, Jared unpacked the paper’s argument and summarized the diverse evidence the authors bring to bear on one part of Frederick Jackson Turner’s (in)famous … Continue reading Navigating the Frontier between History and Social Science

On the Frontier Thesis

Economics and history Twitter are all abuzz about a HPE paper! That’s good, right? Even if there is occasionally discord between economic historians and historians? Oh, wait ... the comments are something. Fortunately, one of the paper’s authors, Martin Fiszbein, has a response to many of the comments. There have also been a few threads on it. I … Continue reading On the Frontier Thesis

The Great Northward Migration and Social Transformation, Part I

Sometime during the mid-1910s, African Americans, until then almost exclusively concentrated in the Southern United States, began a mass exodus. Pushed out by poverty, oppressive Jim Crow laws, violence and disenfranchisement, Southern Blacks sought a better life in growing cities of the Northeast and Midwest. There, the booming war industry was in need of labor, … Continue reading The Great Northward Migration and Social Transformation, Part I

1918 Every Year: Racial Inequality in Death from Infectious Disease in U.S. Cities in the Early 20th Century

The Covid-19 pandemic is poised to kill people on a global scale not witnessed since the 1918 influenza pandemic. Because the influenza pandemic killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide and 675,000 in the United States, it stands out among scholars as a uniquely catastrophic event. But less well-known is that the typical rate of death from infectious disease among urban nonwhites in the early twentieth century was just as catastrophic -- even in non-pandemic years.

The Lost History of Southern Republicans, Part II

Leaders of the Arkansas Republican Party, 1916 Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville

As I wrote on Friday, by the 1890s, the Republican Party in the South was mostly viewed as a set of rotten boroughs. In each state – outside of a few areas in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia – a Republican organization existed not to compete in elections, but to control delegations at the Republican … Continue reading The Lost History of Southern Republicans, Part II

The Lost History of Southern Republicans, Part I

The electoral foundation of the modern Republican Party is the U.S. South. In 2016, for example, Donald Trump won 304 electoral votes, with 155 coming from the eleven states of the former Confederacy. Overall, Trump won 10 of 11 Southern states – losing only Virginia. And as the figure below illustrates, the Republican candidate for … Continue reading The Lost History of Southern Republicans, Part I