What was Plato’s academy and why did it influence Western thought?

.600px-Plato_Silanion_Musei_Capitolini_MC1377The Academy, founded by the philosopher Plato in the early 4th century BCE, was perhaps one of the earliest institutions of higher learning. While it was not like a university where people would enroll and obtain advanced degrees, it functioned as one of the first places dedicated to research into scientific and philosophical questions in Europe. Its main function was to teach Plato’s philosophical understanding, but it also challenged its scholars to develop a new understanding of our universe. This makes it one of the first known institutions that dedicated itself to fundamental discovery about our universe.

Read more at DailyHistory.org.


Alexander the Great Top Ten Booklist

Alexander the Great

Creating a top ten list for books on Alexander the Great is not easy, since few ancient historical figures have been written about as much. Everything from his complex personality and his sexual life to his military and logistical tactics have been analyzed by historians. Alexander, simply put, stands out as unique among ancient historical figures for having so much detailed assessment made on his life and times. Although few primary sources exist from the time of Alexander, we know a lot about him from late Antiquity sources.

Read the list at DailyHistory.org.

Voodoo, Kidnapping and Race in New Orleans during Reconstruction: Interview with Michael A. Ross

The Great New Orleans Kid

The Oxford University Press published The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law, and Justice in the Reconstruction Era by Michael A. Ross, an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland. Ross’s first book, Justice of Shattered Dreams: Samuel Freeman Miller and the Supreme Court During the Civil War Era, examined Justice Miller’s career on the Supreme Court. Ross has changed pace and his next book follows the 1870 kidnapping of a white seventeen month old girl, Mollie Digby, by two African American women in New Orleans. While virtually unknown today, the case was a national sensation at the time. Everyday, newspapers around the country were publishing reports of the kidnapping and subsequent trial. Unsurprisingly, the story became intertwined with the racial politics of Reconstruction.

Here is DailyHistory.org’s interview with Michael Ross about his new book.

American Legal History Top Ten Booklist

America’s Constitution: A Biography by Akhil Reed Amar

These are our Top Ten legal history books. Why do we like these books? Besides being awesome, we believe that these are some of the most exciting legal history books we have read. These books helped us think about legal history in new ways. Excitement and legal history are terms that are rarely used together, but after you read these books we hope you feel the same way as we do. As with any of our booklists, we have included some caveats and explanations for our selections.

Check out our American Legal History booklist at DailyHistory.org.

The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798: Interview with Terri Halperin


The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 were four laws that were passed by the predominantly Federalist Congress and signed by John Adams to strengthen the national security of the United States. These acts not only restricted the ability of an immigrant to become a citizen, but made it easier to deport non-citizens who were either deemed dangerous or were citizens of hostile countries. Perhaps the most contentious aspect of the new laws criminalized the printing or speaking allegedly false statements about the federal government. Not surprisingly, these laws were incredibly controversial and strongly opposed by Thomas Jefferson’s opposition Democratic-Republican party.

Terri Halperin’s new book The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 published by Johns Hopkins University Press lays bear the deep divisions in the United States that potentially threatened the survival of the young nation. She examines the passage and strident debate that around these laws along with their problematic an uneven enforcement. Her book is excellent introduction to both the immigration laws of the new country and its interpretation of freedom of speech.

Terri Halperin is a member of the University of Richmond History Department and an adjunct professor of the James Madison Memorial Foundation Summer Institute. She is an United States historian and her focus is on the Early Republic.

Read the interview at Dailyhistory.org.

What was the dominant medical sect in the United States during the 19th Century?


Nineteenth-century medicine was characterized by constant competition among three major medical sects: Regulars, Eclectics, and Homeopaths.[1] Each of these medical sects not only meaningfully disagreed on how to treat illnesses and diseases, but sought to portray their type of practice as the most effective and scientific. Arguably none of the three sects was superior to the others, but their adherents concluded that their sectarian beliefs were better than their competitors.

Regulars were the inheritors of Galenic tradition and were the largest and most established of the three sects. Homeopaths represented a new approach to medicine with a new unified medical system developed in the eighteenth century. Homeopaths were quite successful in the United States and represented the biggest threat to the Regulars’ dominance of medicine. The Eclectics were true to their name. They were a diverse sect composed of dissident Regulars, herbalists, and medical reformers. While the Regulars were the largest sect, their members constantly worried that they may lose their place at the head of the table of American medicine. In the later portion of the 20th century, Regular physicians would constantly lobbying state legislatures to create medical licensing to solidify their place as the preeminent medical sect. Read more at DailyHistory.org. 

Why was the worship of Mithra so popular?

Mithra sacrifices a bull

Today the god Mithra or Mithras is not recognized by many in the West. Mithra is often seen as just one of the many gods that was once worshiped in Europe, the Near East, and South Asia. However, in the early centuries of Christianity, one can argue the worship of Mithras rivaled influence and importance of Christianity. If Christianity had failed to plant itself in Europe, it may have been possible for Mithraism to become a lasting and significant religion in Asia and Europe. The Mithra faith may have also influenced both Christianity and other later religions. Read more at DailyHistory.org.