What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation

Identities

How Anti-Spanish Bias Justified 19th-Century American Expansionism

Poet-Politician Joel Barlow Personified an Ideology Borne of Religious Antipathy and Economic Rivalry

By John C. Havard

No sooner had the U.S. Revolution ended than U.S. expansionists began looking south and southwest toward lands controlled by Spain.

The personification of this complicated project was the American poet-politician Joel Barlow. As a poet, he worked on creating public sentiment to annex Spanish lands, and, wearing his political hat, he pursued that agenda. Barlow is largely a forgotten figure today, but the myths he helped create remain with us.

Barlow was the likely author of the 1792 manuscript “Plan …

Event
Identities

The ’70s Pop Idol Who Was a ‘Safe’ Sex Symbol for Girls

The Partridge Family's David Cassidy Had an Androgynous Sweetness That Made Him Part Older Brother, Part Girlfriend

By Carol Dyhouse

When David Cassidy died, aged 67, in November 2017, reports in the press suggested that legions of middle-aged women were plunged into mourning. Cassidy, whose career was kick-started with the role of Keith Partridge in the 1970s musical-sitcom The Partridge Family, enjoyed explosive success during that decade as a singer, songwriter, and musician, but most sensationally, as the love interest of swathes of adoring teenage girls across North America, Europe, and many other parts of the world.

These days we are …