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This is a show about early American history. Awarded Best History Podcast by the Academy of Podcasters in 2017, it’s for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world. Each episode features conversations with professional historians who help shed light on important people and events in early American history. It is produced by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.
 
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On Friday, September 18, 2020, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, died. Justice Ginsburg's death has caused a lot of debate about whether the President should appoint a new justice to fill her seat and, if he does appoint someone, whether the Senate should vote on the President’s nomination before the elec…
 
2020 commemorates the 300th anniversary of French presence on Prince Edward Island. Like much of North America, the Canadian Maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island, and Prince Edward Island were highly contested regions. In fact, the way France and Great Britain fought for presence and control of this region places …
 
Between 1760 and 1761, Great Britain witnessed one of the largest slave insurrections in the history of its empire. Although the revolt took place on the island of Jamaica, the reverberations of this revolt stretched across the Atlantic Ocean and into the British North American colonies. Vincent Brown, the Charles Warren Professor of American Histo…
 
We live in an age where big businesses track our shopping habits and in some cases our work habits. But is the age of data new? When did the “age of the spreadsheet” and quantification of habits develop? Caitlin Rosenthal, an Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley and the author of Accounting for Slavery: Masters a…
 
The American Revolution is embedded in the American character. It’s an event that can tell us who we are, how we came to be who we are, and how we can strive to be who we want to be as a nation and people. Rick Atkinson, a three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a journalist who has worked at The Washington Post, and the author of The British Are …
 
As the first President of the United States, George Washington set many precedents for the new nation. One of the biggest precedents Washington set came in the form of the Cabinet, a body of advisors from across the U.S. government who advise the president on how to handle matters of foreign and domestic policy. Today, we investigate Washington’s c…
 
Polygamy is not a practice that often comes to mind when many of us think about early America. But it turns out, polygamy was a ubiquitous practice among different groups of early Americans living in 17th and 18th-century North America. Sarah Pearsall, a University Teaching Officer, Fellow, and Historian at the University of Cambridge, joins us to …
 
On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass delivered a speech to an anti-slavery society and he famously asked “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” In this episode, we explore Douglass’ thoughtful question within the context of Early America: What did the Fourth of July mean for African Americans in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries…
 
This special bonus episode introduces the Ben Franklin's World Subscription program and a new monthly Listener Question & Answer feature for subscribers to that program. In this preview, award-winning historian Nick Bunker answers your questions about the life of young Benjamin Franklin. Show Notes: https://www.benfranklinsworld.com/207 Join Ben Fr…
 
Who gets to be a founding father? “Founding Father” status goes to men who helped found the United States. That means the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, those who led the Continental Army, and the 36 delegates who signed the Constitution. We’re talking about more than 100 men and yet, we don’t really talk about more than a handf…
 
What kinds of animals did early Americans keep as pets? How did early Americans acquire pets? What kinds of animals did early Americans keep as pets? Ingrid Tague, a Professor of History at the University of Denver and the author of Animal Companions: Pets and Social Change in Eighteenth-Century Britain, joins us to answer your questions about pets…
 
What do we know about how and why England came to establish its first permanent colony at Jamestown? And what do we know about the English colony that came before it, the Colony of Roanoke? Alan Gallay, Lyndon B. Johnson chair of United States History at Texas Christian University and author of Walter Ralegh: Architect of Empire, leads us on explor…
 
How did Americans learn to establish philanthropic institutions? Victoria Johnson, an Associate Professor of Urban Policy and Planning at Hunter College in New York City and author of American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic, leads us on an investigation of the life of Dr. David Hosack and the many organ…
 
What do you know about the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution? Caitlin Galante-DeAngelis Hopkins, a Lecturer in the History Department at Harvard University and a former research associate for the Harvard and Slavery Project, joins us to explore the origins of the Eleventh Amendment and why the United States added it to its Consti…
 
On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere rode to Lexington, Massachusetts to spread the alarm that the Regulars were marching. Revere made several important rides between 1774 and 1775, including one in September 1774 that brought the Suffolk Resolves to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia. So why is it that we remember Paul Revere’s ride to Lexin…
 
How do you uncover the life of an enslaved person who left no paper trail? What can the everyday life of an enslaved person tell us about slavery, how it was practiced, and how some enslaved people made the transition from slavery to freedom? We explore the life of Charity Folks, an enslaved woman from Maryland who gained her freedom in the late-18…
 
What was everyday life like for average men and women in early America? Listeners ask this question more than any other question and today we continue to try to answer it. Michelle Marchetti Coughlin, author of One Colonial Woman's World: The Life and Writings of Mehetabel Chandler Coit, joins us to explore the life of an average woman who lived in…
 
What in the first 40 years of his life made Benjamin Franklin the genius he became? Benjamin Franklin serves as a great window on to the early American past because as a man of “variety” he pursued many interests: literature, poetry, science, business, philosophy, philanthropy, and politics. But one aspect of Franklin’s life has gone largely unstud…
 
How did the people of early America experience and feel about winter? Thomas Wickman, an Associate Professor of History and American Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and author of Snowshoe Country: An Environmental and Cultural Winter in the Early American Northeast, joins us to investigate how Native Americans and early American…
 
How did early Americans educate their children? How and when did Americans create a formal system of public education? You sent me these questions for Episode 200: Everyday Life in Early America. You also said you wanted to know more about how early American boys and girls learned the trades they would practice later in life. Johann Neem, a Profess…
 
On July 1, 1790, Congress passed “An Act for Establishing the temporary and permanent Seat of the Government of the United States.” This act formalized a plan to move the capital of the United States from New York City to Philadelphia, for a period of 10 years, and then from Philadelphia to Washington D.C., where the United States government would …
 
The Treaty of Paris 1783 ended the American War for Independence, but it did not bring peace to North America. After 1783, warfare and violence continued between Americans and Native Americans. So how did the early United States attempt to create peace for itsnew nation? Michael Oberg, a Distinguished Professor of History at the State University of…
 
Did you know that imagination once played a key role in the way Americans understood and practiced medicine? Sari Altschuler, an Assistant Professor of English at Northeastern University and author of The Medical Imagination: Literature and Health in the Early United States, joins us to investigate the ways early American doctors used imagination i…
 
History is an important tool when it comes to understanding American law. History is what the justices of the United States Supreme Court use when they want to ascertain what the framers meant when they drafted the Constitution of 1787 and its first ten amendments in 1789. History is also the tool we use when we want to know how and why the Supreme…
 
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution doesn’t always make headlines, but it’s an amendment that undergirds foundational rights. It’s also an amendment that can show us a lot about the intertwined nature between history and American law. In this 3rd episode of our 4th Doing History series, we explore the early American origins of th…
 
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