Peter A. Shulman 📚 Profile picture
Mar 1, 2018 16 tweets 6 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Today begins Women's History Month, and @eiwhalen threw down a challenge to #twitterstorians to tweet daily about a woman who made history.

So here begins my thread for the month -- others, please join in!
3/1: In class today I taught Charles Payne's extraordinary _I've Got the Light of Freedom_ so I'll start with ELLA BAKER, the grassroots community organizer with the NAACP, SCLC, & SNCC, who fought the freedom struggle by tirelessly teaching participatory democracy.
The Civil Rights Movement would have been very different & likely less effective, without her work. Ms. Baker didn't have much faith in charismatic leaders or centralized institutions, but faith in communities learning how to to collectively advocate their interests.
Here's Payne's book:…

And also Barbara Ransby's biography:…
3/2: As teachers keep striking in West Virginia, remember Mary Harris Jones-Mother Jones-who called it "Medieval West Virginia"--"With its tent colonies on the bleak hills! With its grim men and women! When I get to the other side, I will tell God almighty about West Virginia!"
An Irish immigrant, her husband & 4 children died of yellow fever. Afterwards, she took to the cause of labor, from exploited children to impoverished worker families. She most famously organized mine workers, but also works in railroads, breweries, steel, and textiles.
She lived up to her words of "Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living" -- becoming among the most influential labor organizers of the early 20th century-when that meant a real risk of getting killed. Check out Elliot Gorn's great biography:…
3/3: Labor's still on my mind so today's woman who made history is Frances Perkins, whose 12 years as Labor Secretary during the Depression & WWII made her the longest-serving in history & the first woman cabinet member. But those firsts are nothing compared with what she did.
Perkins began her career in teaching & social work, coming of age among Progressive Era attempts to alleviate poverty & exploitative working conditions. She witnessed the Triangle Shirtwaist fire & the scores of women who plunged to their deaths-an event that galvanized her work.
She worked her way up as a labor reformer in NY, eventually serving as head of the state's labor department under FDR's governorship. When he headed to Washington in 1933, she joined him-on the condition he support her pro-labor, pro-union, pro-worker security efforts. He did.
She managed the most popular New Deal program-the Civilian Conservation Corps-as well as the public works program begun under the National Industrial Recovery Act. She helped launch the Federal Emergency Relief Administration to provide for those most desperate for aid.
Perhaps most importantly, her Committee on Economic Security in 1934 drafted the legislation that became the Social Security Act a year later, introducing old age pensions, unemployment benefits, and workers compensation.
In 1938, she helped draft the Fair Labor Standards Act; for the first time permanently setting federal minimum wages, maximum hours, and a ban on child labor. She dealt with major strikes & labor conflict in the Depression & war, & later served on the US Civil Service Commission.
There are a lot of biographies of Perkins, and much more on labor in Depression & war more generally, but here's one of the most recent by biographer Kirstin Downey:…
3/4: It’s #Oscars night! I’m thinking about 1944’s Best Actress winner, Ingrid Bergman, for her role in “Gaslight.” It’s about a manipulative husband who hides his crimes by making his wife think she is going insane. The term “gaslighting” has taken on a new relevance since 2016.
3/5 [I know it's 3/7 but I'm trying to catch up] Ida B. Wells, born to enslaved parents in 1862 who became a crusading activist and journalist against lynching and for women's rights & suffrage…

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More from @pashulman

Sep 5, 2018

If you are a top official in the White House, you don't get plaudits for privately saving the republic from an unfit president. THIS IS NOT AN OPTION.

"The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making."

Dear lord.
"From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims."

Read 13 tweets
Aug 9, 2018
LI's overt racism and xenophobia has been well & rightly critiqued, and @KevinMKruse and @studentactivism (I'm sure among others) have noted the dark historical parallels here. But I was struck by another part of her comments, the "none of us ever voted for" part.
@KevinMKruse @studentactivism Well, LI is not a member of Congress. And Congress has indeed voted on immigration law, the modern foundation of which dates to 1965. The crowd that is always crowing about "WE'RE A CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC NOT A DEMOCRACY" should know they don't get a vote on everything.
@KevinMKruse @studentactivism LI didn't vote on the constitution either, or any other number of laws that go back to the 18th or 19th centuries but are still on the books. They are still part of our system of government.
Read 30 tweets
Jul 31, 2018
Obviously, no contemporary American history textbook fails to point out Jim Crow was a product of the Democratic south. More importantly, D’Souza (mis)uses the work of James Whitman to distort American-Nazi legal relations, as anyone who’s read the book would recognize.
As reported in the article D’Souza himself links to, he claims to draw from Whitman the influence of American racial law on Nazi Germany, the subject of Whitman’s much-praised Hitler’s American Model.
D’Souza focuses on Whitman’s evidence that there were elements of American racial laws viewed as too extreme even for the Nazis—to be understood as ‘the Democrat party was too extreme for Nazis! Can you believe it?’ Well, that’s not quite Whitman’s claim.
Read 10 tweets
Apr 12, 2018
This @nytimes story is going around and it's a chilling reminder how little Americans (and of course, not only Americans) learn about history, including history that is not at all that ancient.…

It's presented as if memories of the Holocaust are getting worse, but without actually citing any (any!) evidence that this might be the case.
There are, perhaps, good reasons to use the tactics of alarm -- Holocaust survivors -- a big part of my Holocaust education as a child -- are rarer every day. We've seen a return of hyper-nationalism and anti-semitism (as well as the range of other bigotries) in Europe and the US
Read 25 tweets
Feb 4, 2018
I will wade in here not to take a position on GG but as an historian. I’ve said this before, but saying mean things on Twitter and alleging Russia connections does not equal the new McCarthyism, and in fact, perpetuates a massive misperception of what the Red Scare was.
The fact that GG is employed and has a prominent public voice should be enough of a clue that something is different.
McCarthyism—the Red Scare, which we often identify w/the senator from Wisconsin but whose power came more from the House’s HUAC committee and (as GG suggested) the FBI—was a political movement within government to punish political activity & even political thought.
Read 9 tweets
Sep 24, 2017
This isn't from the 1924 DNC. This is literally a photo of Klan members marching in honor of a slain police officer…
Here @DineshDSouza is trying to tie the 1920s Klan to Democrats and the real photo literally ties them to racist police.
Also FWIW this is the Wisconsin Historical Society notice for this image
Read 17 tweets

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