Author Archive for Matthew Pinsker

1910s

The first decades of the twentieth century witnessed many sometimes-wrenching changes, and perhaps no decade was more profoundly revolutionary for the United States and the world than the 1910s.  During this decade, American women finally gained the right to vote and…

1900s

Overview Near the beginning of his memoir Growing Up (1982), journalist Russell Baker describes the United States of his mother’s childhood, in the first decade of the twentieth century, as a “young country,” one that seemed to his grandfather at least, as the “greatest country…

1890s

Overview The nineteenth century had always been an age of certainties, but by the 1890s, some of the post-Civil War consensus about American civilization and progress was beginning to fragment as it had never quite done before.  Populists challenged the distribution…

1880s

Overview As a young teacher at the Hampton Institute in the late 1870s and early 1880s, Booker T. Washington was responsible for helping to instruct and assimilate Native American or Indian men.  The complexity of this assignment –a black teacher…

1860s

Overview When Booker T. Washington recalled the outbreak of the Civil War, he claimed that “every slave on our plantation felt and knew that, though other issues were discussed, the primal one was that of slavery.”  Washington’s memory of life as young slave…

1870s

Overview The term “Reconstruction” has more than one meaning in American history.  Usually it refers to the period from 1863 to 1877, as the federal government worked to “reconstruct” or “restore” former Confederate states back in the national system of…

IMAGE –Leutze’s Washington Crossing

This most famous American painting was created by a German painter named Emanuel Leutze, originally in 1849 and then again in 1851.  The story behind his motivation for painting this image provides a helpful connection between American and European revolutionary movements.  Teachers…

ESSAY –Lincoln Theme 2.0

In 2009, Matthew Pinsker published a state-of-the-field essay on Lincoln studies for the Journal of American History (“Lincoln Theme 2.0”), which argued that the digital revolution was fundamentally changing the way scholars research and write about Abraham Lincoln’s life and career.  The…

ESSAY –Emancipation Moments

The essay excerpted below originally appeared in Emancipation at 150: The Impact of Emancipation, a special e-book anthology produced in 2013 on the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Lincoln’s Cottage and the US Commission on Civil Rights.   Emancipation…