THE BANKING STORY

Banking as we’ve known it for centuries is dead, and we don’t really know the consequences of what is taking its place. A historical overview.

For the last several years congressional committees and presidential task forces have been nattering back and forth about what should be done to change the legal order that establishes and specifically empowers and regulates the nation’s banks. They have dealt with their subject as a collection of technical problems they could solve: a bit of oil here, a tightened bolt there, a replacement for a blown gasket—and the old machine will be as good as new. But, in fact, our banking problems are systemic: we need a new machine.Read more »

What Today’s Army Officers Can Learn From George Washington

A FEW YEARS AGO, writing in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the distinguished historian Henry Steele Commager charged that while civil-military relations had been healthy during most of the nation’s history, the relationship had suddenly taken a turn for the worse.Read more »

The Great Seal

… on its 200th anniversary. It took six years and seven tries—by such men as Franklin, Jefferson, and Adams—to come up with the official symbol of the United States. But what in the world does it mean?

By the eve of the Civil War the prolific American imagination had created a score of major symbols representing the United States. Most of these, like the rattlesnake, the liberty tree, Columbia, Yankee Doodle, and Uncle Sam, had, as symbols do, appeared unconsciously and anonymously. Only two, the flag and the Great Seal, were deliberately created by law.

Read more »

The Week The World Watched Selma

A century after passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, many Southern blacks still were denied the vote. In 1965 Martin Luther King, Jr, set out to change that—by marching through the heart of Alabama.

From the frozen steps of Brown Chapel they could see the car moving toward them down Sylvan Street, past the clapboard homes and bleak, red-brick apartments that dotted the Negro section of Selma, Alabama. In a moment it pulled up at the chapel, a brick building with twin steeples, and the people on the steps sent word inside, where a mass meeting of local blacks was under way. He was here. It was Dr. King. They had waited for him much of the afternoon, singing freedom songs and clapping and swaying to the music.Read more »

Opening China

Once again, Americans are learning the delicate art of trading with the biggest market on earth. Here’s how they did it the first time.

As American merchant ships call again at the China coast, they are following in the ghostly wake of a sailing ship of 360 tons burden which arrived at Whampoa Reach, the anchorage for Canton, on August 28, 1784—188 days out of New York. She proudly fired a “federal salute” of thirteen guns and was saluted in return by the other foreign vessels already anchored there.Read more »

A Look At The Record:

The Facts Behind the Current Controversy Over Immigration

Im-mi-grate—To enter and settle. … —The American Heritage Dictionary God sifted a whole Nation that He might send Choice Grain over into this Wilderness. —The Reverend Mr.Read more »

Presidents Emeritus

The ex-Presidency now carries perquisites and powers that would have amazed all but the last few who have held that office

What should be done with exPresidents? William Howard Taft once remarked that perhaps the best way to handle a former President was to chloroform and ceremonially cremate him when he left office, in order to “fix his place in history and enable the public to pass on to new men and new measures.” Taft did not insist on this ritual for himself, however, accepting instead a professorship at the Yale Law School when he finished his presidential term, and later serving as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

 
Read more »

The Birth Of Social Security

Had Franklin D. Roosevelt not been so conservative, we might have had national health insurance forty years ago

Judged by its direct and profound I influence upon individual and collective lives, no social legislation in all American history is more important than the Social Security Act of August, 1935. And of no other New Deal measure is the legislative history more instructive for one who would understand the essential nature and central purpose of the Roosevelt administration, and the ways in which the mind, character, and temperament of Franklin D. Roosevelt had major shaping impact upon today’s America. Read more »

Getting To Know The National Domain

One hundred years ago, Congress created two agencies—the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Ethnology. Both, according to the author, have since “given direction, form, and stimulation to the science of earth and the science of man, and in so doing have touched millions of lives.”

  Read more »

The Great Enumeration

“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, “said Abraham Lincoln, “we could better judge what to do, and haw to do it. “For nearly two hundred years, the United States Census has been trying to find out.

Americans are a counting nation. They like figureslarge figures such as the gross national product, industrial production, consumer spending, consumption of energy, even measures of economic activity in such arcane areas as the production of brooms, brushes, and pickles. Especially do our people like to count themselves. This has been going on for a long time, serially in every year ending in zero since 1790. There is more to this than a mere quirk of national character.Read more »