To add to the enduring accomplishments of the CCC you cited in your letter, the program left future generations beautiful infrastructure elements in state and national parks, such as pavilions, bridges, and lodges.

These buildings and other structures including such as lookouts along the Blue Ridge Parkway were built from local stone and timber and designed to invite Americans to experience the relaxation and exhilaration of spending time outdoors. They still do, quite powerfully.

Thank you for reminding me of the program and its contribution to my quality of life.

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Another excellent history lesson for an A&S grad who rarely made it to his 9am classes. Today I’m up early reading and appreciating your letter to us all. It’s so important for us to understand how we got to where we are now in the story of America. Like a good and interesting trail guide your letters not only help us along the way but explain more about what we are seeing. Thanks so much, Dr. Richardson! During the pandemic I’ve been doing a great deal of reading...history, literature, current events. Lincoln who struggled hard to understand our founding principles, I believe... despite the crushing anxieties and endless frustrations he suffered and endured throughout the course of the Civil War, was increasingly nurtured by the founders ideas and his love and empathy for all Americans. Every time I get down about what people like McConnell are trying to do, I ask myself...how would Lincoln try to deal with him and his fellow party members? With humor? Kindness? Empathy? Yes, I think so...and then he’d do what President Biden and his party are now so steadily striving to accomplish—-because their initiatives are well aligned with our founding ideas and our best accomplishments. I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to live a pretty long life...every day is an opportunity to learn more about things that are important to us all. Thanks again for the excellent work you are doing.

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Turns out in Floriduh, we now want alot of those proposed federal funds to clean up the corporate cesspool (literally) at piney point. The corporations rape and pillage and get tax breaks, then we taxpayers clean up their mess!

Crazy making.

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Thanks for the history lesson.

Please stop calling Trumps tax changes a "tax cut". For me and many other middle income Americans, our effective tax rate increased.

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The old Republican Party has been usurped by the old Southern Democrats who fled the Democratic Party when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. There are no Lincoln Republicans. The real problem is 17% of GDP and 20% of the population now control nearly 50% of the Senate. It's legislation without representation of the majority.

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I enjoyed yesterday's "chat" and suspected that today's column would dive back into the historical comparisons with where we are today and where we were during 1850-1870. Two things that jumped out at me were the thoughts that government had a role to play in " leveling the playing field" and that McConnell wanted corporations "out of politics" and is immediately walking that back a bit, I watched TRMS last night and watched McConnell deliver a "warning" to corporations, and had to laugh at that fellow who brought forth McConnell v. FEC where he sued against campaign reforms https://www.oyez.org/cases/2003/02-1674 as being amazingly hypocritical.

A friend forwarded me this article on the motives of the 6 January Capitol insurrectionists which I think fits right in to today's letter and how it looks like the more time passes, the more it repeats itself. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/06/us/politics/capitol-riot-study.html

As a retired police use of force instructor, I have to say I was happy at the prosecution's witnesses yesterday in the George Floyd murder trial. (I call it the Floyd murder trial because he is who needs to be remembered, not the murderer.) I had a friend text me and say "they are all saying what you said last summer about use of force; I even heard 'when the threat stops resisting, force application needs to stop' just like you did that day." Intentional murder is hard to prove. Deliberate indifference to the value of human life (part of the statutory definition of how Oregon addresses manslaughter and I am ignorant of Minnesota's specific language) is on full display for 9 plus minutes. I hope it is an easy call for the jury.

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As a recent history graduate, I am quite disappointed in Professor Richardson's post today. Surely she is aware that the Homestead Act of 1862 along with the Morrill Act (which created the land grant universities) entailed illegally transferring large tracts of Indigenous lands to white settlers. The Pacific Railroad Act in particular provided companies with nearly 2 hundred million acres of Indigenous land. In order to transfer such massive amounts of land, the U.S. government broke multiple treaties with Indigenous nations. Indigenous people spent decades fighting this illegal transfer of their land, to no avail. Under the Homestead Act alone, three hundred million acres were taken from the Indigenous collective estates and privatized for the market. Many historians today view the whole move as a convenient "escape valve" to lessen class conflict in the industrial cities as cheap immigrant labor was brought in by companies looking to spend less and make more. Poor whites were told they could "move west" for opportunity, though it must be noted that this was more marketing than reality as very little of the land appropriated under these acts went to single-family homesteaders - speculators got the lion's share, which many surmise was another incentive behind the move (incidentally, many of our presidents - and the founders themselves - have been/were land speculators).

I appreciate the service that Professor Richardson is doing, and I also appreciate the fact that many Americans are upset about what has become of our country and want to know how we got here. But I don't think it helps to whitewash reality. What Professor Richardson calls "development" and expansion" was in fact, colonialism - you need simply talk to a Native American (or a Mexican) for verification of this. Only white people could call our violent trek across the continent and the consequent appropriation of other people's land "expansion".

If Americans want to know how we got here, I would suggest that we take our blinders off and get honest about our past. I realize Americans' identities are wrapped up in American Exceptionalism, but it's important to come to terms with the fact that much of what has been sold to Americans as history is at best myth, and at worst, hagiography. There are very few heroes to be found here, and those that did exist are not likely to show up in our history books because they were usually the ones fighting the very policies that we like to uphold as proof of our "goodness".

It's quite easy to rant against the present Republican Party day after day (there is no doubt that they have moved off the rails). But it is much harder to step back from partisan bickering and look at the country as a whole. There is a reason the country looks the way it does today, and certainly history helps to explain how we got here. But if we really want to break the cycle we have to admit many uncomfortable truths about who we have been all along. I am heartened that many young historians of color seem to get this and are looking at history in a more complete way - one that doesn't simply glorify one party as "saints" and important (white) men as "complicated geniuses", but looks at the fact that the system created by those in power have always favored the rich at the expense of everyone else. This is not an accident. This was not a case of people in the past being less enlightened. This desire to keep the public far from power (and money) is baked into our foundations. We have never been a democracy (we are a republic), and many men on both sides of the aisle have worked hard to make sure that this remains the case.

Finally, I urge people to take the time to read more historians of color, as well as historians from outside the U.S., as they have often been freer to study our history without all of the emotional trappings that are still (sadly) standard in many academic history departments in the U.S., particularly if your focus area is early American.

My information about the Homestead and Morrill Acts was taken from Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's fine book "An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States," Beacon Press, chapter 8.


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< The government had a right to “demand” 99% of a man’s property for an urgent need >

Sen McTurtle's. for instance?

PS, gotta love those fierce New England Radical Republicans of the Civil War era. They're like progressive Dems, who are their worthy successors today.

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Thanks for another history lesson, tied to current events. Ironic that today's Republicans seem to be polar opposites of what they used to represent and support.

Have a good sleep, 💜 and as always, Dr. Heather, thank you for your Letters.

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I've never seen this group of readers get so sidelined by ONE comment (Steven Henry) that had absolutely nothing to do with what Dr. Richardson wrote. She was discussing in great detail the past and present policies and actions of the Republican party. For heaven's sakes, people, can we get back on track. We have just one TROLL - because he got on first and then the rest of you allowed him to highjack a very important topic - the proposed infrastructure bill, America's history in the success of building our infrastructure (far back into Abraham Lincoln's mind before he was elected President). Lincoln saw a disastrous response to aiding infrastructure in his small town in Illinois. He was able to stretch that much farther into the nation.

And now there is a Biden infrastructure bill on hold in Congress because the Republican party has gotten focused on only one tiny part of that - roads and bridges. The whole world saw the absolute disaster in Texas when they had freezing cold, a bad electrical grid that failed because it was not hooked up to the rest of the country, and even their water system throughout state completely fail. On topic, please! I read Dr. Richardson because of what SHE has to say - and for what her readers have to write in comments.

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It is the same as it was under Obama. If Pres. Biden proposed a holiday to commemorate God, Mother and Apple Pie, the Republicans would unanimously oppose it.

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In Heather's video chat today (4/06/2021), she also noted that Biden repeatedly says that he is working for all Americans, Democrats and Republicans, whereas the Republican leadership has become disconnected from the majority of Republican voters who support the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and the pending infrastructure bill.

How do we use this distinction between Republican leadership and Republican voters to make our messaging more effective?

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Love this digest of history with its application to what we see today! Thank you, Heather. This is essential reading.

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I’m so grateful for the quick turn out of vaccines! I’ve had J&J, and my two kids have had one dose so far of the others. I’m excited to plan to see my daughter I haven’t seen since Christmas 2019. But also under pressure from a small group of parents, our school board abruptly announced our students no longer have to wear masks or use desk shields while in a classroom. It was chaos! We spent the day watching every safety precaution we had worked so hard for just erode in front of our eyes! The two school board members that seemed to be holding the restrictions together sent a text to each other about aspects of our inclusion program and it was declared a meeting. Since it wasn’t open to the public, it was declared illegal and they were arrested! Leaving the way for the other members to undo our system if health restrictions. So grateful I’ve had the vaccine!

School board elections are this month. Hope the public turns out in force!

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Would that we could forward today's history lesson to the inbox of those who get their American history through FoxTV/Hannity et al, whose version of US history starts with, "Once upon a time..."

What part of "...promote the common welfare..." is at all ambiguous? Although the preamble to the US Constitution describes the general spirit and goals of the document, not the specific role of government per se, it seems clear that since the document establishes a government, it is the role of government to live up to the principles described therein.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America"

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I find the hijacking of threads in Dr. Richardson’s Letters posts most distressing. The consequences are to elevate those discussions in the thread and bury those more worthy of attention making them difficult to find and engage. Please do not allow this to happen. Continued back and forth discussion of unworthy topics is so counterproductive and exactly what trolls initiating those discussions hope for.

Please do not elevate or respond to such posts. You are only aiding the mission of trolls by doing so.

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