Author Archives: InThePastLane

About InThePastLane

Dr. Edward T. O’Donnell is a professional historian, author, and speaker. He earned his Ph.D. in American History from Columbia University. He is an Associate Professor of History at Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA. Learn more at www.EdwardTODonnell.com He is the author of several books, including (as co-author) the new U.S. History college-level textbook, Visions of America: A History of the United States, 2nd edition (Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2012), Ship Ablaze: The Tragedy of the Steamboat General Slocum (Random House, 2003) and the forthcoming Talisman of a Lost Hope: Henry George, American Workers, and the Republican Crisis of the Gilded Age (Columbia University Press, 2013). His scholarly articles have appeared in the Public Historian, Journal of Urban History, and the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. O’Donnell is also active in the field of public history. He has curated several major museum exhibits on American history and appeared in several historical documentaries. He has provided historical insight and commentary for PBS, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and National Public Radio. Since 2002 O’Donnell has made hundreds of teacher professional development presentations, including content lectures, pedagogy workshops, and walking tours, for the Teaching American History program in 26 states, including New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Virginia, Florida, California, Wyoming, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. Learn more at www.EdwardTODonnell.com or follow him on Twitter at @InThePastLane

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Episode 031 America’s Forgotten Colony in Cuba


Subscribe to ITPL - ERIThis week, In the Past Lane explores the fascinating and little-known story of an American colony that developed on a small island off Cuba following the Spanish American War of 1898.  The Isle of Pines attracted some 2,000 American settlers in the early 20th century. Many of them viewed the island in the same way earlier generations of Americans saw the trans-Mississippi west — as a place brimming with opportunity for adventure, self-reinvention, and economic advancement.  At the heart of their ambitions was the hope that the United States would annex the island.  To tell us all about this colony and its rise, transformation, and fall in the 20th century, I speak with historian Michael Neagle about his new book, America’s Forgotten Colony: Cuba’s Isle of Pines (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

ITPL Ep 031 Neagle book coverAbout Michael Neaglewebsite

Further Reading
Michael Neagle, America’s Forgotten Colony: Cuba’s Isle of Pines (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Steven Kinzer, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire (Henry Holt, 2016)

Jane McManus, Cuba’s Island of Dreams: Voices from the Isle of Pines and Youth (2000)

Louis A. Perez, Jr. Cuba Under the Platt Amendment, 1902-1934 (Pittsburgh, 1986)

Louis A. Jr. Perez, The War of 1898: The United States and Cuba in History and Historiography (UNC, 1998)

Evan Thomas, The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898 (Little, Brown and Company, 2010)

Music for This Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (JayGMusic.com)

Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)

The Womb, “I Hope It Hurts” (Free Music Archive)

Jason Shaw, “Acoustic Meditation”

The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)

Production Credits

Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer

Technical Advisors: Holly Hunt and Jesse Anderson

Podcasting Consultant: Darrell Darnell of Pro Podcast Solutions

Photographer: John Buckingham

Graphic Designer: Maggie Cellucci

Website by: ERI Design

Legal services: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Social Media management: The Pony Express

Risk Assessment: Little Big Horn Associates

Growth strategies: 54 40 or Fight

© Snoring Beagle International, 2017

 

Jimmy Carter press conference

Episode 030 Presidents and the Media: The History of Political Spin


Subscribe to the In The Past Lane podcastThis week at In The Past Lane, we talk about the American presidency – specifically the history of how US presidents have endeavored to communicate their positions on key issues of the day. To use modern political parlance, it’s the history of “spin,” that important but sometimes tawdry business of crafting and communicating a political message in such as way that it enhances your political standing. American presidents have struggled to do this since the days of the Washington administration. To help us understand what spin is and how and why it’s played such a critical role in the evolution of the modern presidency and in the success or failure of individual presidents, I talk to historian David Greenberg. He’s the author of a fascinating new book, Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency.

David Greenberg, Republic of SpinAmong the many things we discuss:
How Theodore Roosevelt created the original permanent White House spin apparatus.

Why Woodrow Wilson’s Committee on Public Information during World War I is unfairly characterized as a nefarious propaganda machine.

Why FDR’s “fireside chats” proved so effective in promoting Roosevelt’s New Deal agenda.

How Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first president to embrace the new medium of television.

Why image making became so essential to presidential success in the age of JFK.

How Jimmy Carter — yes, Jimmy Carter – was hailed early on in his presidency as a master communicator and manipulator of the media.

Why spin is not inherently negative but rather an essential element of presidential leadership.

Why the mainstream media is held in such low regard these days.

About David Greenberg – website

Further Reading

David Greenberg, Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency (WW Norton, 2016)

Katz and M. Barris, The Social Media President: Barack Obama and the Politics of Digital Engagement (2013)

William E. Leuchtenburg, The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton (2015)

Stephen Ponder, Managing the Press: Origins of the Media Presidency, 1897-1933 (1999)

Music for This Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (JayGMusic.com)

Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)

Jon Luc Hefferman, “Winter Trek” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)

Production Credits

Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer

Technical Advisors: Holly Hunt and Jesse Anderson

Podcasting Consultant: Darrell Darnell of Pro Podcast Solutions

Photographer: John Buckingham

Graphic Designer: Maggie Cellucci

Website by: ERI Design

Legal services: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Social Media management: The Pony Express

Risk Assessment: Little Big Horn Associates

Growth strategies: 54 40 or Fight

© Snoring Beagle International, 2017

Haymarket Bombing

Episode 029 Spies, Traitors, & Saboteurs: Civil Liberties in Times of National Crisis


This week, In The Past Lane is in Chicago to check out a cool history exhibition and speak with John Russick of the Chicago History Museum. The exhibition, “Spies, Traitors, and Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America,” was originally created by the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC in the wake of September 11. The idea behind it was to exSubscribe to ITPL - ERIplore the way the United States has handled the challenges posed by internal threats — terrorists, spies, saboteurs, hate groups, etc — while at the same time protecting civil liberties. Some of the many incidents it explores includes: the Oklahoma City bombing, the Palmer Raids, the Weather Underground, the Haymarket bombing, Japanese Internment, the KKK, German sabotage efforts during World War I, Soviet spying and McCarthyism, and the militia movement. It’s an exhibition well worth seeing. Here’s a link with more info. I also took a lot of photographs, so if you’d like to see what the exhibition looks like, just scroll down a bit.

IMG_2083After I toured the exhibition, I sat down with John Russick, Vice President of Interpretation and Education at the Chicago History Museum, to talk about why the museum decided to host “Spies, Traitors, and Saboteurs” and why the issues it raises are so very important to our democracy. It’s a really interesting conversation about history and how it should inform the present. Among the many things we discuss:

Why Americans are really good at forgetting the past (and why it’s the job of public history institutions to help them remember).

How so many issues that we wrestle with in contemporary American society — immigration, terrorism, radical movements, violations of civil liberties, debates over security vs. liberty — are not new.

How the desire for security in America during tumultuous times has always been in tension with our civil liberties, especially free speech and free thought.

How America has always struggled to define itself and its citizens — What rights are essential? Which ones are the most important? Who should enjoy them? “The work of being a free and fair society,” says Russick, “is never done.”

Why “Spies, Traitors, and Saboteurs,” which was created 13 years ago, is still very relevant in 2017.

Photos of the exhibition: scroll down

Information on the exhibition: here

Further Reading:

“Exhibit on U.S. spies and traitors hopes to speak to present day,” Chicago Tribune, April 19, 2017.

Description of the exhibition from the International Spy Museum – link

Credits:

Music for This Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (JayGMusic.com)

Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)

Lee Rosevere, “Going Home” (Free Music Archive)

Ketsa, “Escape the Profane” (Free Music Archive)

Jon Luc Hefferman, “Discovery” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)

Production Credits

Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer

Associate Producer: Devyn McHugh

Technical Advisors: Holly Hunt and Jesse Anderson

Podcasting Consultant: Darrell Darnell of Pro Podcast Solutions

Photographer: John Buckingham

Graphic Designer: Maggie Cellucci

Website by: ERI Design

Legal services: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Social Media management: The Pony Express

Risk Assessment: Little Big Horn Associates

Growth strategies: 54 40 or Fight

© Snoring Beagle International, 2017

Photos of the exhibition:

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Episode 028 The Crises of the 1790s and the Making of US National Identity


In this episode, we dive into the tumultuous and critically important years of the 1790s, a time when the very fate of the new republic hung in the balance.

subscribe-buttonFirst, I’ll do a short set-up segment on the really perilous political scene in the United States in the 1790s. It’s a lively period when many of the key Founders like George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson clashed bitterly over foreign and domestic policy, so much so that many people feared civil war was imminent.

Second, I’ll sit down with historian Carol Berkin to talk about her new book, A Sovereign People: The Crises of the 1790s and the Birth of American Nationalism. She focuses on four major crises that threatened the young nation: the Whiskey Rebellion, the Genet Affair, the XYZ Affair, and the Alien and Sedition Acts. Historians have long discussed these controversies as crises that ultimately doomed the Federalist Party. But the real story of the crises of the 1790s, says Berkin, is the way that these four crises all contributed to the formation of American national identity. The US at this time was a new and fragile nation, made up of people who more often than not, identified with their states rather than their nation. So while these crises were divisive and controversial, they also led more and more Americans to see themselves as Americans, and to defend national institutions like the Presidency and the Constitution. My conversation with Carol is fun and deeply interesting and I think you’re going to love it.

Among the things Carol Berkin discusses:ITPL Ep 028 Berkin book cover
* How the crises of the 1790s helped forge U.S. national identity.
* How Americans in the fractious 1790s came to respect not just Washington, but the office of the president.
* How the Whiskey Rebellion threatened the legitimacy of the federal government and how George Washington used a combination of firmness and leniency to defuse it.
* How the Genet Affair threatened US sovereignty in the 1790s.
* How John Adams bungled the XYZ Affair but ultimately benefitted from the nationalist outrage it produced.
* Why the Alien and Sedition Acts were not very repressive in practice.
* How the Federalists deserve credit for guiding the fragile American republic through the tumultuous 1790s.
* How the brutal partisan media and fake news shaped the politics of the 1790s.
* What we in 2017 can learn from the fractious politics of the 1790s.

About Carol Berkin website

Further Reading

Carol Berkin, A Sovereign People: The Crises of the 1790s and the Birth of American Nationalism (Basic Books, 2017)

Ronald Chernow, Alexander Hamilton (2004)

Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation (2000)

Joseph J. Ellis, The Quartet: Orchestrating The Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 (2015)

William Hogeland, The Whiskey Rebellion: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Frontier Rebels Who Challenged America’s Newfound Sovereignty (Simon & Schuster, 2006)

Music for This Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (JayGMusic.com)

Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)

The Womb, “I Hope It Hurts” (Free Music Archive)

Scott Holmes, “The Light Between Us” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)

Production Credits

Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer

Associate Producer: Devyn McHugh

Technical Advisors: Holly Hunt and Jesse Anderson

Podcasting Consultant: Darrell Darnell of Pro Podcast Solutions

Photographer: John Buckingham

Graphic Designer: Maggie Cellucci

Website by: ERI Design

Legal services: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Social Media management: The Pony Express

Risk Assessment: Little Big Horn Associates

Growth strategies: 54 40 or Fight

© Snoring Beagle International, 2017

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Episode 027 JFK at 100 – The Legacy and Memory of a President


In this episode, in recognition of John F. Kennedy’s 100 birthday – I know, 100?, Really? – we dive into the life and legacy of the nation’s 35th President. Every couple of years, we read about a poll that ranks the presidents of the United States from best to worst. These surveys generally attract a lot of public attention, and they do so for two reasons.subscribe-button
First, lots of people want to know where recent presidents rank (where’s Obama? Bush?).And second, many people want to know who’s in the top 10. They want to see if Lincoln ranks number one versus Washington, but they also seem keenly interested in the ranking of presidents like John F. Kennedy. JFK often lands in the top 10. In fact, a recent CNN Poll of historians put Kennedy at #8. But this result often leaves historians and political scientists scratching their heads. Kennedy, after all, served less than one full term. And he had his share of personal flaws and political failures. Well, there’s no simple answer to this question. But part of this answer is certainly tied to the way JFK created a magnetic political persona on his way to becoming President and then, following his assassination, the way Kennedy loyalists carefully crafted and preserved a certain kind of historical image of JFK.

That’s our focus in this episode. Here’s the lineup:
1. First, I sit down with historian Michael J. Hogan to talk about his latest book, The Afterlife of John Fitzgerald Kennedy: A Biography. Hogan is a distinguished professor of history at the University of Illinois, Springfield and an emeritus professor of history at Ohio State University.Michael J. Hogan, The Afterlife of John Fitzgerald Kennedy: A Biography

2. Second, I visit the museum dedicated to the JFK assassination, the 6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza to talk to some of the people who visit the site.

About Michal J. Hogan website

Further Reading

Michael J. Hogan, The Afterlife of John Fitzgerald Kennedy: A Biography.

Robert Dallek, JFK: An Unfinished Life, 1917-1963

Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House

Music for This Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (JayGMusic.com)

Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)

Ketsa, “I Will Be There” (Free Music Archive)

PC III, “Cavalcades” (Free Music Archive)

Jon Luc Hefferman, “Epoch” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)

Production Credits

Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer

Associate Producer: Devyn McHugh

Technical Advisors: Holly Hunt and Jesse Anderson

Podcasting Consultant: Darrell Darnell of Pro Podcast Solutions

Photographer: John Buckingham

Graphic Designer: Maggie Cellucci

Website by: ERI Design

Legal services: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Social Media management: The Pony Express

Risk Assessment: Little Big Horn Associates

Growth strategies: 54 40 or Fight

© Snoring Beagle International, 2017