Category Archives: Congressional Briefings

The National History Center’s Congressional Briefings are designed to provide historical context and perspective on current issues for policy makers and members of their staff. The speakers reflect upon historical events and developments that have influenced the evolution of current policies and provide knowledge pertinent to the consideration of policy alternatives.

4/3: War Against War: The Rise, Defeat, and Legacy of the Peace Movement in America, 1914-1918 with Michael Kazin

Historian Michael Kazin narrates how a group of Americans tried to stop their nation from fighting in one of history’s most destructive wars, and then were hounded by the government when they refused to back down. It was the largest, most diverse, and most sophisticated peace coalition up to that point in US history. Members of the coalition came from a variety of backgrounds, and their political ideologies ranged from socialist and anarchist to populist and white supremacist. They mounted street demonstrations and popular exhibitions, attracted prominent leaders from the labor and suffrage movements, ran peace candidates for local and federal office, and founded new organizations, some of which, like the ACLU, endured beyond the cause. For almost three years, they helped prevent Congress from authorizing a massive increase in the size of the US army—a step advocated by ex-president Theodore Roosevelt. Soon after the end of the Great War, most Americans believed it had not been worth fighting. And when its bitter legacy led to the next world war, the warnings of these peace activists turned into a tragic prophecy—and the beginning of a surveillance state that still endures today.

Michael Kazin is a professor of history at Georgetown University and editor of Dissent magazine. He received his PhD from Stanford University. His most recent books are War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918 (2017); American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation (2011), and A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan (2006). He is a regular contributor to The New York Times Book Review, Foreign Affairs, The Nation, Politico, and other publications and websites.

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.

Congressional Briefing: Zika: Historic Parallels and Policy Responses

The National History Center of the American Historical Association will hold a Congressional briefing on the Zika virus: historic parallels, and policy responses.  J.R. McNeill of Georgetown University and Margaret Humphreys of Duke University will discuss  the history of Zika’s mosquito vectors and the complexity of planning public health programs to counter disease-bearing mosquitoes.  Alan Kraut of American University will moderate.

The briefing will be held on Monday, September 12, from 9:30 a.m to 10:30 a.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2103, Washington, DC.

For more information, visit the briefing website.

RSVPs are requested.  To RSVP, please email Amanda Perry at

5/9: Congressional briefing on the history of American drug policy & drug addiction epidemics

The  National History Center of the American Historical Association is pleased to announce our upcoming Congressional briefing on American drug policy and drug addiction epidemics in historical perspective.  David Courtwright of the University of North Florida and Keith Wailoo of Princeton University will discuss drug policy reform and the drug market since the Progressive era.  Alan Kraut of American University will moderate the discussion.

The briefing will be held on Monday, May 9th, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Cannon House Office Building, Room 121, Washington, DC.

For more information, please see the briefing webpage.

RSVPs are requested.  To RSVP, please email Amanda Perry at