Category Archives: Antebellum America (1815-1861)

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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 025 Who Was Thomas Jefferson?


subscribe-buttonIn this episode, we take a close look at another Founding Father – Thomas Jefferson (Episode 23 focused on Alexander Hamilton). And why not? Jefferson was born in the month of April – April 13th to be precise – and he’s Thomas Jefferson, maybe the most multi-talented of the Founders. He was part businessman, philosopher, writer, naturalist, theologian, statesman, architect, and inventor — among other things. To help us understand Jefferson and why he still matters – despite all the Hamilton mania these days – this episode has two parts:

Gordon-Reed book cover1) First, I provide a brief overview of the life of Thomas Jefferson. In so doing, I’ll raise some of the many key questions about the 3rd President, most especially: how could the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence also own 600 slaves? And have children with one of them (Sally Hemings)?

2) Then, I’ll sit down with award-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed, co-author of the most recent major book on Jefferson, “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination. It’s just been released in paperback. It’s a deep and compelling examination of this most important and most enigmatic of Founders.

 About Annette Gordon-Reed website

Further Reading

Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf, “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination (WW Norton)

Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (W.W. Norton, 2009)

Annette Gordon-Reed, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy (University Press of Virginia, 1997)

Peter S. Onuf, The Mind of Thomas Jefferson (University of Virginia Press, 2007)
Music for This Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (JayGMusic.com)

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

Andy Cohen “Trophy Endorphins” (Free Music Archive)

Ason Shaw, “Acoustic Meditation” (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

Eastern State Penitentiary

Episode 021 The History of Mass Incarceration in the US, Part 1


subscribe-buttonHow did it come to pass that in the United States that we imprison more people than any nation in the world? That’s right – the US comprises 5% of the world’s population, but it holds 25% of the world’s prison population. That’s more people in US prisons than Russia, China, Iran — you name it. How did it come to pass that we’ve put 2.3 million of our fellow Americans in prisons?  Well, in this first of a two-part exploration of the origins of mass incarceration, I visit the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA. It’s a famous prison built in the 1820s that closed in the 1970s and then later was turned into a museum. I take a tour of this fascinating institution with staff guide Lauren Bennett. I took A LOT of photographs so you’ll want to check them out below. And keep in mind, this is part 1 of a deep dive into the history of prisons and criminal justice in American history. In part 2, I speak with historian Elizabeth Hinton about her book, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (Harvard University Press). You won’t want to miss it!

Eastern State - prisons-todayFurther Reading

Scott Christianson, With Liberty for Some: 500 Years of Imprisonment in America (1998)

John DuMond, Under the Wall: The True Story of the 1945 Tunnel Escape from Eastern State Penitentiary (2014)

Norman Bruce Johnston, Eastern State Penitentiary: Crucible of Good Intentions (1994)

Paul Kahan, Eastern State Penitentiary: A History (2008)

Mark E. Kann, Punishment, Prisons, and Patriarchy: Liberty and Power in the Early American Republic (2005)

Rebecca M. McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment: Protest, Politics, and the Making of the American Penal State, 1776-1941 (2008)

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The Big Graph showing the explosion of the US prison population since the 1970s, part of the exhibition, “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” at Eastern State Penitentiary, 2016

Eastern State Penitentiary

Website http://www.easternstate.org/

Prisons Today, an exhibition on mass incarceration at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA http://www.easternstate.org/prisons-today

The Big Graph http://www.easternstate.org/visit/regular-season/history-artist-installations/big-graph

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Panel from the exhibition, “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” at Eastern State Penitentiary, 2016

Music for this Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (courtesy, JayGMusic.com)

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

Lee Rosevere, Going Home (Free Music Archive)

Philipp Weigl, Even When We Fall (Free Music Archive)

Jason Shaw, “Acoustic Meditation” (Free Music Archive)

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

An aerial view of Eastern State Penitentiary, ca. 1954

An aerial view of Eastern State Penitentiary, ca. 1954

View down one of Eastern State Penitentiary's cell blocks, 2016

View down one of Eastern State Penitentiary’s cell blocks, 2016

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, Ltd

Typical solitary cell at Eastern State Penitentiary, 2016

Typical solitary cell at Eastern State Penitentiary, now a ruin. Note: the skylight was the only source of light for inmates (2016)

 

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The view from the center of the “wagon wheel” – from which all the cell blocks radiate – at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA

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View down a cell block at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016)

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As the numbers of prisoners grew at Eastern State Penitentiary, prison officials added a second level to several of the cell blocks.

View down one of Eastern State Penitentiary's cell blocks, 2016

View down one of Eastern State Penitentiary’s cell blocks, 2016

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Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016)

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Single cell (now a ruin), Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016)

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Remains of a medical facility, now a ruin, Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016)

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Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016)

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Prison yard, Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016)

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Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016)

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Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016)

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Contemporary exhibition at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016) – “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration”

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The Big Graph, showing the explosion of incarceration since 1970. NOTE: The small orange bar is 1970; the tall one is 2010. Contemporary exhibition at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016) – “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration”

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The graph shows how exceptional the US is when it comes to incarceration. Today the US imprisons 730 people per 100,000 of its population. In the European Union the average is about 150/100,000. Contemporary exhibition at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016) – “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration”

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Contemporary exhibition at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016) – “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration”

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Contemporary exhibition at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016) – “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration”

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One of the MANY thought-provoking questions posed at the exhibition at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016) – “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration”

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Episode 20 African American Soldiers in the Civil War


In this episode of ITPL, we focus on the experiences of African Americans who joined the Union Army during the Civil War and the profound impact they had on the war’s final outcome — and on American society in the decades that followed. There’s a lot more to this story than what you may have seen in the award-winning film, “Glory” (1989). So here’s the lineup:
1. First, I provide a brief backgrounder on the basic details regarding African Americans and their service in the Union Army and Navy.
2. Second, I sit down with historian Douglas Egerton to talk about his new book, Thunder at the Gates: The Black Civil War Regiments That Redeemed America (Basic Books, 2016).
3. Finally, I present a feature on the Ft. Pillow Massacre, perhaps the grimmest incident in the whole Civil War.
In The Past Lane is a production of Snoring Beagle International, Ltd.

Show notes for this episode

More About Douglas Egertonitpl-020-egerton-book-cover

His faculty page at LeMoyne College

Further Reading and Links

Douglas Egerton, Thunder at the Gates: The Black Civil War Regiments That Redeemed America (Basic Books, 2016)

Martin H. Blatt, ed., et al, Hope & Glory: Essays on the Legacy of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment (2000)

James Henry Gooding, On the Altar of Freedom: A Black Soldier’s Civil War Letters from the Front

James M. McPherson, The Negro’s Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During the War for the Union

Episode Credits

Music

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (courtesy, JayGMusic.com)

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

Kevin McLeod, Impact Moderato (Free Music Archive)

Andy Cohen, “Bathed in Fine Dust” (Free Music Archive)

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

Jason Shaw, “Acoustic Meditation” (Free Music Archive)

Cuicuitte, “Vivan” and “Sultan Cintre” (Free Music Archive)

Dana Boule, “We All Need to Calm Down” (Free Music Archive)

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

Hyson, “Signals” (Free Music Archive)

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

Production

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, Ltd

 

 

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Episode 019 The Hidden History of Indian Slavery in America


This week at ITPL, I speak with historian Andres Resendez about his new book, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered History of Indian Slavery in America. The enslaving of native peoples in the Americas began the moment Christopher Columbus arrived. And it was no smasubscribe-buttonll venture. Some 2.5 – 5 million Indians were enslaved (compared to approximately 12 million Africans). In my interview with Professor Resendez, he explains how and why this system of exploitation started and why it somehow remained hidden, both at the time and later in the historical record. This recovery of the story of Indian slavery has major implications for the understanding of not just the history of American slavery, but for all of American history.

More about Andres Resendez:
http://history.ucdavis.edu/people/resendezep-019-resendez-other-slavery-cover-image-copy

This and That
The PBS documentary about Pearl Harbor I’m featured in:  Pearl Harbor: The USS Oklahoma: The Final Story

Further Reading:

Andres Resendez, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered History of Indian Slavery in America

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

Brendan C. Lindsay, Murder State: California’s Native American Genocide, 1846-1873

Benjamin Madley, An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873

David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World

Music

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (courtesy, JayGMusic.com)

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

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

The Bell, “On The Street” (Free Music Archive)

Jason Shaw, “River Meditation” (Free Music Archive)

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