Charles Sumner

A Brief Taxonomy of Political Brawls
June 08, 2012

The explosive exchange between Greek politicians earlier this week—peaking with Ilias Kasidiaris of the far-right Golden Dawn party throwing water on one of his female opponents before slugging another—was certainly jarring. But it’s hardly an isolated example of politicians forgoing verbal sparring for the satisfaction of the real thing. In fact, it’s not even exceptional. So what kinds of outbursts put this shameful, and completely inexcusable bout of violence to, well, shame?

Discovering Equality
January 13, 2011

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery By Eric Foner (W.W. Norton, 426 pp., $29.95) I. As we begin a raft of sesquicentennials that will carry us through at least the next half-decade—the secession of Southern states, the formation of the Confederacy, the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, Appomattox, and so on—I confess to feeling a mixture of excitement and trepidation. These are all signal events in our history, the roadblocks and thoroughfares in the making of modern America, and at a time of general crisis they are especially important to revisit.

Disputations: The Lost Lincoln
July 25, 2009

Click here to read letters by Fred Kaplan, Michael Kazin, John Stauffer, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The following is Sean Wilentz's response to their letters. I wrote a 25,000 word essay about Abraham Lincoln, not Barack Obama. My aim was to review some of the most prominent scholarly books interpreting Lincoln on the occasion of his bicentennial, and to offer a different view of Lincoln as, first and foremost, a democratic politician.

The Color-Blind Court
July 31, 1995

The conservative justices are privately exuberant about the remarkable Supreme Court term that ended last week. Surprised and slightly dazed by the magnitude of their victory, they think they have finally exorcized the ghost of the Warren Court, fulfilled the goals of the conservative judicial revolution and vindicated the ideal of a color-blind Constitution for the first time since Reconstruction.