Economic History

Economic Inequality in the U.S.: Déjà Vu All Over Again

Established by the AHA in 2002, the National History Center brings historians into conversation with policy makers to stress the importance of historical context in understanding current affairs. Today’s author, Robyn Muncy, recently presented in the NHC’s Washington History Seminar program. Robyn Muncy is associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her most recent book is Relentless Reformer: Josephine Roche and Progressive Reform in Twentieth-Century America (Princeton University Press, 2015).

“What is increasingly and desperately needed today is economic statesmanship which will act courageously and constructively to eliminate our mounting economic inequalities.”

—Josephine Roche, 1940s

Having just completed a biography of progressive reformer Josephine Roche, I am struck with déjà vu nearly every time I open my morning newspaper.

In Memory of Alfred D. Chandler Jr.: 1918-2007

Alfred D. Chandler Jr., the man Fortune magazine once described as “America’s pre-eminent business historian,” died last week at the age of 88. He was best known for his 1978 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business, which shows how a new class of salaried, professional managers wrested control of the American economy from the phantom market forces described by Adam Smith. Chandler’s theories earned him international praise and forever altered the field of economic history.

The American Tax Tradition

Although T.S. Eliot wasn’t thinking about the federal tax deadline when he described April as “the cruelest month,” his words have a special resonance for those of us who will spend the next few nights chained to our desks with a calculator in one hand and a Form 1040 in the other. The first federal income tax in American history was enacted on August 5, 1861...