Robin Henry

History commentator

Dr. Robin C. Henry holds a Ph.D. in US history from Indiana University and is an associate professor in the history department at Wichita State University. Her research examines the intersections among sexuality, law, and regional identity in the 19th and early 20th century United States.

She is the author of the forthcoming book, Criminalizing Sex, Defining Sexuality: Sexual Regulation and Masculinity in the American West, 1850-1927, as well as numerous articles. Currently, she is working on her second book, The Progressives’ Lincoln’: Reform and the Intellectual Life of Benjamin Barr Lindsey.

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National Photo Company, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs

On July 28, 1868, Secretary of State William H. Seward issued a proclamation certifying the ratification of the 14th Amendment to the U.S, Constitution. This amendment extended citizenship to anyone born in the United States; guaranteed equal protection, due process, and privileges and immunities; and tasked the federal government to enforce these rights for all citizens.

The Impact of Title IX

Jun 16, 2015
Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

June 23rd marks the anniversary of the passage of the Education Amendments of 1972 that included the important gender non-discrimination section, Title IX.

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

On May 6, 1960, President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law the second of four civil rights acts that serve as the foundation of federal civil rights statutes in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Wikimedia Commons

By the end of the 20th century, the word "feminism" had acquired a definition and divisive reputation that, while historically inaccurate, spoke to the backlash against its simple, yet radical concept.

Rights Won, Rights Lost

Mar 10, 2015
National Museum of American History / flickr Creative Commons

March is often a time to think about women’s contributions, and how far women have come toward equality. However, it is also important to consider moments when women have lost rights.

The Fugitive Slave Law

Feb 10, 2015
Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

On February 12th, 1793, Congress passed the first Fugitive Slave Law. It was an addition to the U.S. Constitution’s Article 4 that required states to give “full faith and credit” to other states’ laws.

ensh / Flickr / Creative Commons

The meaning of the words justice served relies on the social, political and legal contexts in which it is applied.

Two 19th-century U.S. Supreme Court cases reflect how the Court’s decisions can be swayed by contemporary racial politics. In its 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, the Court declared that African Americans could not sue for freedom in federal court because they were not considered citizens. This decision reversed 28 years of precedent, reflecting more the heightened division over slavery than impartial justice.

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

  American readers know Dashiell Hammett as the author of hard-boiled detective classics, like The Maltese Falcon, and as the long-time romantic partner of playwright Lillian Helmann.

We’re often less familiar with his radical beliefs in equality and political freedom that formed the foundation of his characters’ moral compasses and provided the backdrop to the uncertainty, darkness and ethical conflicts that transform his detective stories into literary fiction.

Public Domain

This year, Americans are observing the 200th anniversaries of events from the War of 1812, such as the burning of Washington, D.C. and the attack on Fort McHenry.

This year also marks the 200th anniversary of the Hartford Convention. Comprised of clandestine meetings held by anti-war New Englanders between December 1814 and January 1815, the Convention called for radical actions, such as the nullification of federal laws and possible secession from the union.

New York Times (Public Domain) / Wikimedia Commons

While Europe teetered on the brink of war during the summer of 1914, the threat of escalating violence and warfare with Mexico consumed Americans’ attentions.

The relationship between the United States and Mexico began to sour in 1910 as Mexico fell into a decade-long civil war. Until 1914, the U.S. warned Mexico that it would only get involved if the fighting threatened the lives or property of Americans living in Mexico. Twice, President Taft sent troops to the border as a warning, but did not allow them to intervene in the conflict.

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