Category Archives: Biography

ITPL Ep 036 featured image

Episode 036 Libertarianism in US History


This week we take on the topic of libertarianism, an ideology that in recent years has gained many adherents, including political conservatives and people in business, especially the high tech industry. But it’s worth asking, what is libertarianism and where does it fit in the history of American political culture? Is it a mainstream ideology with deep roots in American history? Or is it one on the fringe? And what accounts for its surging popularity in recent years?
Well, to answer these questions, I’ll first give my historian’s take on libertarianism. Spoiler alert: I’m not a big fan. I’ll point out how libertarianism occupies a place on the very outer fringe of American political ideology. And that it’s mainly an ideology of recent origin (ca 1945) and that it’s popularity has a lot to do with the efforts of millionaires and billionaires, as well as large corporations, that fund pro-libertarian initiatives. The US has always revered individualism, but not the radical individualism that defines libertarianism. It’s an individualism that has always been tempered by an equally important commitment to the common good.
ITPL Ep 036 Woodside book cover
Then I’ll speak with Christine Woodside, author of the book, Libertarians on the Prairie: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and the Making of the Little House Books. Wait, what? Little House on the Prairie has something to do with libertarianism? Yes. In fact, as you’re about to hear, it has quite a bit to do with it. Let’s just say that it’s a story that includes not only Laura Ingalls Wilder, but also Ayn Rand, the Koch brothers, and the Libertarian Party.

Among the many things discussed in this episode:
What is libertarianism and where does it fit in the history of American political culture?

How have billionaires and corporations since 1945 worked to promote libertarianism?

Why the Founding Fathers were NOT libertarians.

How Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter infused libertarian themes into the Little House books.

How the Little House on the Prairie franchise helped fund the rise of libertarianism and the Libertarian Party in the mid-20th century.

About Christine Woodside – website

Further Reading

Christine Woodside, Libertarians on the Prairie: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and the Making of the Little House Books (2015)

Nancy MacLean, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America (2017)

Colin Woodard, American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good (2015)

Daniel Cluchey, “The Founding Fathers Were Not Libertarians,” Huffington Post, May 25, 2011

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)

Doc Turtle, “Thought Soup” (Free Music Archive)

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

ITPL Ep 035 featured image

Episode 035 Albert Cashier, Transgender Soldier in the American Civil War


President Trump’s announcement via Twitter that transgender personnel would no longer be allowed to serve in the US armed forces provides an excellent opportunity to take a look at the history of female and trans soldiers who have fought in past US wars. Most people would be surprised to learn that there are over 100 documented cases of women who served in the Confederate and Union armies during the Civil War. In this episode, we look at the story of Albert Cashier, possibly the best known transgender soldier in US history who served in the Union Army during the Civil War. It’s a remarkable story that provides us with some important historical perspective on the current #TransBan debate.

Albert Cashier, in his Union Army uniform

Among the many things we discuss:

Who was Albert Cashier?

How did he manage to serve in the Union Army for 3 years without anyone suspecting that he was born in Ireland with the name Jenny Hodgers.

How Cashier maintained his male identity for more than 40 years, only to have his “secret” discovered near the end of his life.

How when word got out about Cashier’s birth identity, the U.S. Pension Bureau considered revoking his pension, but opted to maintain it when they determined that Hodgers and Cashier were one in the same.

Further Reading

De Anne Blanton and Lauren M. Cook, They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War (2003).

Lon Dawson, Also Known as Albert D. J. Cashier: The Jennie Hodgers Story, or How One Young Irish Girl Joined the Union Army During the Civil War (2005)

Bonnie Tsui, She Went to the Field: Women Soldiers of the Civil War (2003)

Music for This Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (JayGMusic.com)

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

Hyson, “Traces” (Free Music Archive)

Hefferman, “Discovery” (Free Music Archive)

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

 

ITPL Ep 034 featured image

Episode 034 The Zenger Trial and the Birth of the Free Press in America


With the mainstream news media under siege these days, and with some people – including one particularly powerful and influential person – denouncing it as so-called “fake news,” this seems like a good time to explore the history of a free press. Just consider how central the free press has been to American history. So many key moments in American history have derived from, or somehow involved, the freedom of the press.
* The abolitionist press and the eventual end of slavery.
* Muckrakers at the turn of the 20th century and the exposure of abuses by big business.
* The Pentagon Papers and the withdrawal of the US military from Vietnam.
* The Watergate investigation and the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

These are just a few examples of the vital role a free press has played in American history. And they raise the question: How did this idea of a free press get enshrined in the First Amendment? And how did it come to be seen as a fundamental principle of American democracy?

It’s a long and fascinating story, but it began with the arrest and prosecution of a little known New York newspaper publisher named Peter Zenger in 1735. And that’s the story we’ll focus on in this episode of In The Past Lane, the podcast about history and why it matters.
zenger-tryal
Among the many things we’ll discuss:

How the British defied “seditious libel” in the 18th century – and how American colonists began to develop a very different understanding of it.

The biography of Peter Zenger, the unknown printer at the center of the famous 1735 trial that bears his name.

How the 1735 trial of Peter Zenger popularized the idea of freedom of the press.

How the legacy and memory of the Zenger Trial led to the inclusion of freedom of the press in the 1st Amendment.

How Americans came to see a free press as essential to maintaining a healthy democracy.

Further Reading

Paul Finkelman, ed., A Brief Narrative of the Case and Tryal of John Peter Zenger: with Related Documents (Bedford, 2010)

Gail Jarrow, The Printer’s Trial: The Case of John Peter Zenger and the Fight for a Free Press (2006)

Richard Kluger, Indelible Ink: The Trials of John Peter Zenger and the Birth of America’s Free Press (2016)

Lyrissa Lidsky and Robert G. Wright, Freedom of the Press: A Reference Guide to the United States Constitution (2004)

Website: Federal Hall National Monument, New York (NPS) – permanent exhibition on the Zenger Trial.

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)

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

 

ITPL Ep 032 featured image

Episode 032 How Baseball Became America’s National Pastime

This week we step up to the plate to take on the origins and history of baseball, and how the sport has both reflected and shaped American society.

Among the many things we’ll discuss:

Early bat and ball games that date back as 14th century Europe (and one involving nuns and monks!).

How British immigrants in the 18th century brought early forms of baseball to North America, including rounders and cricket.

Why baseball emerged as a popular sport in US cities, and not in the pastures of rural America.

Why Alexander Cartwright and NOT Abner Doubleday is the the true “father of baseball.”

How the American Civil War played a key role in popularizing not just baseball, but the so-called “New York” version that eventually became the standard.

Why the early promoters of baseball insisted it remain an amateur sport played by men of good character –and why they eventually lost the battle to the forces of commercialization.

How as many as 50 African Americans played major league baseball in the 1870s and 1880s before the surging racism of the day led owners to purge black players and segregate baseball. And why Moses Fleetwood Walker was the first African American to play major league baseball, 60 years before Jackie Robinson re-integrated baseball.

Why the individualism of baseball both sets it apart from other major team sports and reflects a core American value.

How there are dozens of words and phrases in the American lexicon that trace their origins to baseball, everything from “rain check” to “big league” to “screwball.”

Further Reading

Block, David. Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game (University of Nebraska Press, 2005).

Nemec, David. The Great Encyclopedia of Nineteenth Century Major League Baseball. 2nd ed. (University of Alabama Press, 2006).

Peterson, Robert. Only the Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams (Gramercy Books, 1999).

Rielly, Edward J. Baseball and American Culture: Across the Diamond (Haworth Press, 2003).

Riess, Steven A. Touching Base: Professional Baseball and American Culture in the Progressive Era (University of Illinois Press, 1983. Revised 1999).

Rossi, John. The National Game: Baseball and American Culture (Ivan R. Dee, 2002).

Thorn, John. Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game (Simon & Schuster, 2011).

Tygiel, Jules. Past Time: Baseball as History (Oxford, 2000).

Voigt, David Q. America Through Baseball (Nelson Hall, 1976).

White, G. Edward. Creating the National Pastime: Baseball Transforms Itself, 1903-1953 (Princeton University Press, 1996).

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)

David Szesztay, “Joyful Meeting” (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

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