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The origins of executive privilege

Plus: The English language and Father’s Day |

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June 13, 2019

By Lily Rothman

With President Trump invoking executive privilege this week, telling Congress he won’t hand over documents related to the Census question about citizenship, we took a look back at the origins of that unusual presidential power. It’s not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, but its history reaches all the way back to George Washington’s time. Here’s what to know about how it evolved, from Washington to Nixon to today.

Here’s more of the history that made news this week:

HISTORY ON TIME.COM

The Long Fight Over the English Language

Americans and Brits have been arguing about their shared language for centuries. Here’s how it started

‘The Actions Taken By the NYPD Were Wrong’

New York City police commissioner apologizes for 1969 raid at Stonewall Inn

Paternity Testing Had a Long History Before Today’s DNA Kits

But the science hasn’t always matched the hype

What It Means to Be a ‘Good’ Father in America Has Changed

“I think the key change for the invention of the modern father is in the 1920s,” says historian Robert L. Griswold

House Hearing on Reparations for Slavery Set for Next Week

Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and actor Danny Glover are set to testify before a House panel

FROM THE TIME VAULT

June 13, 1977

Today in 1977: The New Rich

“Most people dream that they will some day, somehow, strike it rich. They share a pleasurable and innocuous fantasy, akin to pubertal pinings or the hankering of grown men—and women—to sail around the world, learn the Hustle or inhabit the White House. The reality of American life in 1977 might appear to make daydreams of wealth more chimerical than ever in the nation’s history. Indeed, in an age of brutal taxation, constricted opportunity and entangling laws, most dreamers of wealth concede that Mars or Margaux might be more attainable than megabucks. Nonetheless, this remains the Age of the Possible. The wealthy are not an endangered species.” (June 13, 1977)

Read the full story

June 13, 1955

Today in 1955: Gwen Verdon

“There’s the Devil to pay these nights just off Broadway on the stage of Manhattan’s 46th Street Theater, but a sentimental Washington baseball fan who has bartered his soul for a .524 batting average gives every sign of welshing on the deal. To secure his investment in this ‘wife-loving louse,’ Satan calls in one of his ablest assistants, a flame-haired siren named Lola. Her job: get him. As Lola, in Broadway’s smash new musical Damn Yankees, a relative newcomer named Gwen Verdon (rhymes with spurred on) warms to her work like a flash fire in a dry thicket.” (June 13, 1955)

Read the full story

June 13, 1932

Today in 1932: The Postmaster’s Power

“Six of the ten members of the President’s Cabinet were going as delegates to speed his renomination. Secretaries of State Stimson and of the Treasury Mills could be spotted under the New York placard. Secretary of War Hurley, aggressive and smiling, would be with his fellow Oklahomans. The Missouri contingent would contain Secretary of Agriculture Hyde, the Virginia delegation Secretary of Labor Doak. But of all the Senators, Congressmen and Cabinet members present none would compare in influence and importance to Postmaster General Walter Folger Brown of Ohio, President Hoover’s pre-convention manager and his personal representative at Chicago.” (June 13, 1932)

Read the full story

HIGHLIGHTS FROM AROUND THE WEB

Mallet Mania Croquet may seem like a pretty buttoned-up game, but Livia Gershon explains for JSTOR Daily why some 19th century observers considered it downright scandalous.

At the Movies The official Netflix Twitter account made lots of history-lovers happy this week with this fun thread celebrating the work of historians who have helped make movies better.

Songs and Slavery At Topic, Rebecca Onion takes a long look—with the help of documents and video—at the experience and legacy of the Jubilee Singers, whose fame did not protect them from exploitation.

Lost Legacy Iliana Magra reports for the New York Times on how the newly released papers of a pioneering British scientist have revealed that a nurse and embryologist named Jean Purdy was instrumental in developing the science behind IVF, but that her work has been overlooked for decades.

The Human Side On the anniversary of Anne Frank’s birth, Rachel Kadish writes movingly at Slate about what she learned from her surprising relationship with a woman who was a childhood friend of Frank’s.

 
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