Robert E. Weems Jr.

History commentator

Robert E. Weems, Jr. is the Willard W. Garvey Distinguished Professor of Business History at Wichita State University.

His research specialty is African American business and economic history.

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Growing tensions between the United States and Iran have dominated news in recent weeks. The historical backdrop further validates the notion that certain actions can produce unintended consequences.

Individual income tax returns, including those of public figures, are private information protected by law from unauthorized disclosure. But since the early 1970s, most presidential and vice presidential candidates, as well as sitting presidents and vice presidents, have released their tax returns for public scrutiny.

One of the hallmarks of historic American foreign policy is the Monroe Doctrine.

In his annual message to Congress on December 2, 1823, President James Monroe declared that any attempt by a European power to control any nation in the Western Hemisphere would be viewed as a hostile act against the United States.

Income inequality has been a long-standing feature of American life. Consequently, U.S. history has featured numerous proposals to decrease the disparity between the economic “haves” and “have-nots.”

The annals of American business history are filled with numerous instances of companies that experienced both dramatic success and dramatic failure during their life cycles.

Recent American history features numerous instances where U.S. Attorneys General recused themselves from cases where a conflict of interest existed.

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Wichita has a proud history of entrepreneurship. Companies founded here — such as Pizza Hut, Rent-A-Center, Beechcraft, Learjet, Cessna, and Koch Industries — have created thousands of jobs over the years. Yet, notwithstanding past accomplishments, analysts such as James Chung contend that contemporary business growth in Wichita is anemic.

Wichita, during the mid-20th century, was a city where African Americans were blatantly discriminated against in downtown commercial spaces. For instance, black moviegoers were forced in sit in the balcony of downtown theaters.

Another form of racial bias experienced by black Wichitans during this period occurred in downtown department stores. While local African Americans were allowed to purchase products from these businesses, they were not allowed to sit and eat at their lunch counters.

 

For much of American history, gold and silver were directly linked with the country’s currency. Memories of the hyper-inflation associated with the circulation of fiat “Continental Dollars” during the Revolutionary War prompted a long-standing belief that “sound money” consisted of paper dollars linked with gold and coinage created from silver.

Horace Cort / AP

Most Americans are probably aware of the famous August 28, 1963, March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his immortal “I Have A Dream” speech. Far fewer citizens are aware of his advocacy of a second march on Washington planned for April 1968.

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