400 Years Later, the Pilgrims are Still Part of Us

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Exactly 400 years ago this month, North American shores welcomed their first tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. After a grueling 65-day passage, the Mayflower reached what is now Massachusetts in November of 1620. Its passengers began their new life under dreadfully inhospitable conditions. A late departure meant they arrived with almost no time to spare before winter set in. Although it briefly appeared their colony would not survive the winter, Plymouth Plantation ultimately lasted for another 70 years before being absorbed into Massachusetts Bay Colony. Its impact on history reverberated long past that. The founders of Plymouth called themselves Separatists, Protestants who believed the Church of England had abandoned true Christianity and looked to establish their own independent congregations. …

Americans Voted to Make Politics Boring Again

Joe Biden is the President-Elect. The Democratic Party lost. That’s the short version of what will surely go down as one of the wildest elections in American history. It took almost a week to declare a winner, and it will take weeks more of litigation before Donald Trump concedes defeat, if he ever does. The emotions of this election will linger, indeed, will likely still be high when 2024 rolls around. For a substantial number of Trump supporters no amount of evidence in the world will ever convince them that this election wasn’t stolen from them. For a substantial number of Democrats, making Trump a one-term president will never dampen the rage they’ve let build up over the last four years. This election will certainly be a major storyline in the next one. …

But history offers Trump little consolation

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Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis in New York, September 03, 2019 (Steven Ferdman/Getty)

James Mattis could be forgiven for feeling ignored. In June, the former defense secretary took the dramatic step of repudiating the president he served in a scathing statement to The Atlantic. Mattis blasted Trump for working to divide the American people and said the United States lacks “mature leadership.” A recent cabinet member attacking the president — five months before an election, no less — achieved bombshell status in the media, but only for a short time, drowned out by the coronavirus pandemic and protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd.

No such overshadowing has plagued former National Security Advisor John Bolton, however, as the release of his book sparked exhaustive coverage. He dominated the news cycle the week of its release, boosted by Trump’s efforts to suppress its publication. Bolton is more specific than Mattis, accusing Trump of condoning Chinese concentration camps, soliciting Chinese President Xi Jinping for help with reelection, and grumbling that he would enjoy executing journalists in America. In case even that was too subtle, Bolton stated in a later interview that he hopes Trump becomes “a one-term president.” …


Tommy Sheppard

Tommy Sheppard is a historian living in northern Virginia. He earned his PhD in military history at the University of North Carolina.

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