Collecting History: Coins, Banknotes, and Postage Stamps in Special Collections
Exhibition Dates: June – August 2017
Collected by people of all ages and status, coins, banknotes and postage stamps serve a practical function, yet can be considered miniature works of art that reflect the history and culture of their time. Featuring national symbols, notable individuals and events, and often putting forth ideas and propaganda, they show us how nations wanted the public to perceive their governments and cultures.
This summer exhibition features just a sampling of these materials from our collections, from ancient coins to foreign currency, and stamps from around the world.
Secrets and Leaks: The Dilemma of State Secrecy examines the complex relationships among executive power, national security, and secrecy. State secrecy is vital for national security, but it can also be used to conceal wrongdoing. How then can we ensure that this power is used responsibly? Typically, the onus is put on lawmakers and judges, who are expected to oversee the executive. Yet because these actors lack access to the relevant information and the ability to determine the harm likely to be caused by its disclosure, they often defer to the executive’s claims about the need for secrecy. As a result, potential abuses are more often exposed by unauthorized disclosures published in the press.
But should such disclosures, which violate the law, be condoned? Drawing on several cases, Rahul Sagar argues that though whistleblowing can be morally justified, the fear of retaliation usually prompts officials to act anonymously–that is, to “leak” information. As a result, it becomes difficult for the public to discern when an unauthorized disclosure is intended to further partisan interests. Because such disclosures are the only credible means of checking the executive, Sagar writes, they must be tolerated. However, the public should treat such disclosures skeptically and subject irresponsible journalism to concerted criticism. – summary provided by the publisher (Princeton University Press, 2013)
Investigating the President: Congressional Checks on Presidential Power Although congressional investigations have provided some of the most dramatic moments in American political history, they have often been dismissed as mere political theater. But these investigations are far more than grandstanding. Investigating the President shows that congressional investigations are a powerful tool for members of Congress to counter presidential aggrandizement. By shining a light on alleged executive wrongdoing, investigations can exert significant pressure on the president and materially affect policy outcomes.
Douglas Kriner and Eric Schickler construct the most comprehensive overview of congressional investigative oversight to date, analyzing nearly thirteen thousand days of hearings, spanning more than a century, from 1898 through 2014. The authors examine the forces driving investigative power over time and across chambers, identify how hearings might influence the president’s strategic calculations through the erosion of the president’s public approval rating, and uncover the pathways through which investigations have shaped public policy. Put simply, by bringing significant political pressure to bear on the president, investigations often afford Congress a blunt, but effective check on presidential power–without the need to worry about veto threats or other hurdles such as Senate filibusters. In an era of intense partisan polarization and institutional dysfunction, Investigating the President delves into the dynamics of congressional investigations and how Congress leverages this tool to counterbalance presidential power. – summary provided by the publisher (Princeton University Press, 2016)
Impeachable Offenses: A Documentary History from 1787 to the Present Using primary documents from all federal impeachments, including those for members of Congress, the judiciary, and the cabinet as well as the President, the authors evaluate what has and what has not constituted an impeachable offense, from the proceedings against Senator William Blount in 1797 to that of President Clinton in 1998. They also touch on Congress’ occasional attempts to use censure to tut-tut an official. – summary provided by the publisher (Congressional Quarterly, 1999)
Trust Betrayed: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Selling Out of America’s National Security Ex-Navy SEAL sniper Scott Taylor served his country for eight years. Taylor finally came home after he was injured during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Years later, he became outraged when he discovered that the Obama administration was leaking sensitive intelligence information for political gain. Now Scott Taylor is speaking out. Having served as a sniper in the same region of Iraq as American Sniper author Chris Kyle, Taylor knows first-hand how high the stakes are. From the bungling of Benghazi to the rise of ISIS, the White House has betrayed the trust of American forces. It’s time President Obama and his administration were finally held accountable. – summary provided by the publisher (Regnery Publishing, 2015)
Power, Politics, and Paranoia: Why People Are Suspicious of their Leaders Powerful societal leaders – such as politicians and Chief Executives – are frequently met with substantial distrust by the public. But why are people so suspicious of their leaders? One possibility is that ‘power corrupts’, and therefore people are right in their reservations. Indeed, there are numerous examples of unethical leadership, even at the highest level, as the Watergate and Enron scandals clearly illustrate. Another possibility is that people are unjustifiably paranoid, as underscored by some of the rather far-fetched conspiracy theories that are endorsed by a surprisingly large portion of citizens. Are societal power holders more likely than the average citizen to display unethical behaviour? How do people generally think and feel about politicians? How do paranoia and conspiracy beliefs about societal power holders originate? In this book, prominent scholars address these intriguing questions and illuminate the many facets of the relations between power, politics and paranoia. – summary provided by the publisher (Cambridge University Press, 2014)
The Taming of the Press: Cohen v. Cowles Media Company “Cohen v. Cowles Media Company” changed the course of First Amendment media law. After a quarter century of decisions interpreting the First Amendment to give media organizations preferential treatment, the Supreme Court ruled in 1991 that the Constitution did not give the press immunity from the laws ordinary citizens must obey. The American Bar Association quarterly “Communications Lawyer” (Spring 1998) calls “Cohen” a media law hall of fame case. The author, who was the plaintiff’s sole attorney in all phases of the case, provides detailed analysis of the complexities of constitutional litigation and the strategic and tactical considerations involved in formulating constitutional arguments in the Supreme Court and other courts.
This is a classic David v. Goliath story of a lone lawyer who worked out of his basement taking on media and legal giants and winning. Scores of attorneys from major law firms around the country represented the Minneapolis and St. Paul newspaper defendants and their allies in court in a case where experts were confident that the press could never lose. The “Cohen” decision has revolutionized the law regarding accountability for wrongdoing by media organizations, and many federal and state courts have relied upon the “Cohen” case in holding media organizations liable for their actions. This lively account will interest not only legal and media scholars, but all readers interested in correcting injustice. – summary provided by the publisher (Praeger, 1999)
The Transparency Fix: Secrets, Leaks, and Uncontrollable Government Information (available through InterLibrary Loan) Is the government too secret or not secret enough? Why is there simultaneously too much government secrecy and a seemingly endless procession of government leaks? The Transparency Fix asserts that we incorrectly assume that government information can be controlled. The same impulse that drives transparency movements also drives secrecy advocates. They all hold the mistaken belief that government information can either be released or kept secure on command.
The Transparency Fix argues for a reformation in our assumptions about secrecy and transparency. The world did not end because Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Edward Snowden released classified information. But nor was there a significant political change. “Transparency” has become a buzzword, while secrecy is anathema. Using a variety of real-life examples to examine how government information actually flows, Mark Fenster describes how the legal regime’s tenuous control over state information belies both the promise and peril of transparency. He challenges us to confront the implausibility of controlling government information and shows us how the contemporary obsession surrounding transparency and secrecy cannot radically change a state that is defined by so much more than information. – summary provided by the publisher (Stanford University Press, 2017)