Who’s got an opinion on the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th leader of the United States? Lately, it seems like everybody’s been talking about Wilson and his legacy, especially and most notably Fox News’ Glenn Beck. (See more about Beck, his animosity toward Wilson, and the Cold War writers whose work he draws from in this recent New Yorker piece by Princeton historian Sean Wilentz.) The New York Times’ website is hosting a discussion on Wilson’s newfound notoriety, with several historians, including Harvard’s Jill Lepore and UT’s own Mark Lawrence, weighing in. Anybody can comment; some comments so far are more civil than others.
Those looking for a preview of some of the themes we’ll talk about in Unit 2 might be interested in reading this excerpt of Douglas Brinkley’s recent book on Teddy Roosevelt, The Wilderness Warrior. (Here is a link to the NY Times excerpt.) Roosevelt’s administration (1901-1909) took dramatic action to preserve national parks, setting a precedent for the twentieth-century efforts to set aside public lands. But this chapter is about Teddy’s early years, in which he loved nature so much that, Brinkley reports, he once saw a picture of a fox in a book and called it “the face of God.” That’s way before he saved that Teddy bear. This excerpt shows how Teddy, born the year before Darwin published On the Origin of Species, grew up along with acceptance of the theory of evolution, developing the appreciation for nature that he carried into the Oval Office. As TR himself would have said, Bully!
Timothy Messer-Kruse became interested in US history textbook claims that no evidence linked the bombing and subsequent conviction and execution of seven defendants in the 1886 rally in support of working men. He did a lot of digging and found out otherwise. (He has now published two books on the Haymarket Riot.) He went to Wikipedia, which has been widely (but not uniformly) praised for the way in which it builds knowledge through crowdsourcing, to edit its entry for “Haymarket Affair.” Interestingly, he got a good scolding for his effort. It seems that his sources and proof didn’t match popular wisdom. You can read his account here, in The-Undue-Weight-of-Truth.