What We Are Doing Today: Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves by Kirk Savage

Updated 30 July 2018
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What We Are Doing Today: Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves by Kirk Savage

Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves explores how the history of slavery and its violent end was told in public spaces — specifically in the sculptural monuments that came to dominate streets, parks, and town squares in 19th-century America. 

Looking at monuments built and unbuilt, author Kirk Savage shows how the greatest era of monument building in American history took place amid struggles over race, gender, and collective memory. 

Savage is the William S. Dietrich II Professor of History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. 

He is the author of Monument Wars: Washington D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape (Princeton) and the editor of The Civil War in Art and Memory. Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves probes a host of fascinating questions and remains the only sustained investigation of post-Civil War monument building as a process of national and racial definition, according to a review published in the Princeton University Press website. 

Featuring a new preface by the author that reflects on recent events surrounding the meaning of these monuments, and new photography and illustrations throughout, this new and expanded edition reveals how monuments have only become more controversial with the passage of time.


What We Are Reading Today: American Bonds by Sarah L. Quinn

Updated 26 June 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: American Bonds by Sarah L. Quinn

  • American Bonds examines the evolution of securitization and federal credit programs

Federal housing finance policy and mortgage-backed securities have gained widespread attention in recent years because of the 2008 financial crisis, but issues of government credit have been part of American life since the nation’s founding. 

From the 1780s, when a watershed national land credit policy was established, to the postwar foundations of our current housing finance system, American Bonds examines the evolution of securitization and federal credit programs. Sarah Quinn shows that since the Westward expansion, the US government has used financial markets to manage America’s complex social divides, and politicians and officials across the political spectrum have turned to land sales, home ownership, and credit to provide economic opportunity without the appearance of market intervention or direct wealth redistribution.

Highly technical systems, securitization, and credit programs have been fundamental to how Americans determined what they could and should owe one another. 

Over time, government officials embraced credit as a political tool that allowed them to navigate an increasingly complex and fractured political system, affirming the government’s role as a consequential and creative market participant. Neither intermittent nor marginal, credit programs supported the growth of powerful industries, from railroads and farms to housing and finance; have been used for disaster relief, foreign policy, and military efforts; and were promoters of amortized mortgages, lending abroad, venture capital investment, and mortgage securitization. Illuminating America’s market-heavy social policies, American Bonds illustrates how political institutions became involved in the nation’s lending practices.