What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation

Journeys

How the Survivor of a 1609 Shipwreck Brought Democracy to America

Stephen Hopkins, Colonist at Both Jamestown and Plymouth, Proposed a Government Based on Consent of the Governed

by Joseph Kelly

We don’t like to talk much about Jamestown. Established in 1607, it was the first permanent English settlement in the New World. But it was a shameful start to America.

Even before they landed, the governing councilors were at each other’s throats. John Smith, a former mercenary, was nearly hanged—twice—and narrowly escaped an assassin. Another councilor, George Kendall, was executed by firing squad. John Ratcliffe deposed the colony’s first president, Edward Maria Wingfield, and installed himself as president. Later, …

Identities

How Sicilian Merchants in New Orleans Reinvented America’s Diet

In the 1830s, They Brought Lemons, Commercial Dynamism, and a Willingness to Fight Elites

by Justin Nystrom

When I started writing a book exploring the crucial contributions that Sicilians had made to New Orleans food culture, I sat down to talk with fabled restaurateur Salvatore “Joe” Segreto. “You’re not going to do one of those “who killa da chief?” histories, are you?,” was the first question he asked me.

Segreto referred to a familiar catcall heard by Italian kids growing up in New Orleans, forged in the bloody aftermath of the assassination of the city’s police Chief …