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Ben Franklin's World: A Podcast About Early American History

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Ben Franklin's World is a podcast about early American history. It is a show 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 a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history. Ben Franklin's World is a production of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.






148 Marla Miller, Betsy Ross

How did everyday men and women experience life in the colonial America? How did the American Revolution transform their work and personal lives? Marla Miller, a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the author of Betsy Ross and the Making of America, guides us through the life of Betsy Ross with an aim to help us answer these questions. Show Notes: https://www.benfranklinsworld.com/148 Sponsor Links Omohundro Institute of Early American History and...

Duration: 00:47:32

147 Don Hagist, British Soldiers, American War

What about the British Redcoats? When we discuss the military history of the American War for Independence, we tend to focus on specific battles or details about the men who served in George Washington’s Continental Army. Rarely do we take the opportunity to ask questions about the approximately 50,000 men who served in the British Army that opposed them. Don N. Hagist, independent scholar and author of British Soldiers, American War: Voices of the American Revolution, leads us on...

Duration: 00:46:29

146 Robert Middlekauff, George Washington's Revolution

What drove George Washington to become a Patriot during the American Revolution? How did he overcome the ill-trained and inexperienced troops, inadequate pay, and supply problems that plagued the Continental Army to win the War for American Independence? Robert Middlekauff, professor emeritus of colonial and early United States history at the University of California, Berkeley, reveals the answers to these questions as we explore details from his book Washington’s Revolution: The Making...

Duration: 00:51:30

145 Rosemarie Zagarri, Mercy Otis Warren and the American Revolution

Mercy Otis Warren wasn’t your typical early American woman. She was a woman with strong political viewpoints, which she wrote about and published for the world to see and consider. Did anyone take her views seriously? Did her writings sway public opinion in the direction of her political views? In this episode, Rosemarie Zagarri, a professor of history at George Mason University and author of A Woman’s Dilemma: Mercy Otis Warren and the American Revolution, helps us kick off a new,...

Duration: 01:00:39

144 Robert Parkinson, The Common Cause of the American Revolution

How do you get people living in thirteen different colonies to come together and fight for independence? What ideas and experiences would even unite them behind the fight? Patriot leaders asked themselves these very questions, especially as the American Revolution turned from a series of political protests against imperial policies to a bloody war for independence. What’s more, Patriot leaders also asked themselves once we find these ideas and experiences, how do we use them to unite the...

Duration: 00:54:49

143 Michael Klarman, The Making of the United States Constitution

How did the framers draft the Constitution of 1787? What powers does the Constitution provide the federal government? Why do we elect the President of the United States by an electoral system rather than by popular vote? These are some of the many questions you’ve asked since November 2016. And today we’re going to explore some answers. Michael Klarman, the Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and author of The Founders’ Coup: The Making of the United States...

Duration: 01:07:37

142 Manisha Sinha, A History of Abolition

Most histories of American abolitionism begin just before the Civil War, during the Antebellum period. But the movement to end chattel slavery in America began long before the United States was a nation. Manisha Sinha, a professor of history at the University of Connecticut and author of the award-winning book The Slaves Cause: A History of Abolition, takes us through the early American origins of the the abolition movement. Show Notes: https://www.benfranklinsworld.com/142 Sponsor...

Duration: 00:57:40

141 A Declaration in Draft (Doing History Rev)

The Declaration of Independence stands first in a series of documents that founded the United States. It also stands as an early step in the long process of establishing a free, independent, and self-governing nation. Since 1776, more than 100 nation-states and freedom organizations have used the Declaration of Independence as a model for their own declarations and proclamations of independence. Given the Declaration of Independence’s important place in the hearts and minds of peoples...

Duration: 01:17:16

140 Tamara Thornton, Nathaniel Bowditch: 19th-Century Man of Business, Science, and the Sea

Nathaniel Bowditch worked as a navigator, mathematician, astronomer, and business innovator. Over the course of his lifetime, his fellow Americans hailed him as the “American Sir Isaac Newton.” Tamara Thornton, a professor of history at the University of Buffalo and author of Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers: How a Nineteenth-Century Man of Business, Science, and the Sea Changed America, leads us on a detailed exploration of the life of Nathaniel Bowditch. Show Notes:...

Duration: 00:53:23

139 Andrés Reséndez, The Other Slavery: Indian Enslavement in the Americas

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. He also played a central role in the European adoption of Indian or Native American slavery. When we think of slavery in early America, we often think of the practice of African and African-American chattel slavery. However, that system of slavery wasn’t the only system of slavery that existed in North America. Systems of Indian slavery existed too. In fact, Indians remained enslaved long after the 13th Amendment abolished African-American slavery...

Duration: 00:47:48

138 Patrick Spero, Frontier Politics in Early America

Did you know that Connecticut and Virginia once invaded Pennsylvania? During the 1760s, Connecticut invaded and captured the northeastern corner of Pennsylvania just as Virginia invaded and captured parts of western Pennsylvania. And Pennsylvania stood powerless to stop them. In this episode, Patrick Spero, the Librarian of the American Philosophical Society and author of Frontier Country: The Politics of War in Early Pennsylvania, takes us through these invasions and reveals why...

Duration: 00:47:50

137 Erica Dunbar: The Washingtons' Runaway Slave, Ona Judge

George Washington was an accomplished man. He served as a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, first President of the United States, and on top of all that he was also a savvy businessman who ran a successful plantation. George Washington was also a slaveholder. In 1789, he and his wife Martha took 7 slaves to New York City to serve them in their new role as First Family. A 16 year-old girl named Ona Judge was one of the...

Duration: 00:51:51

136 Jennifer Van Horn, Material Culture and the Making of America

What do the objects we purchase and use say about us? If we take the time to think about the material objects and clothing in our lives, we’ll find that we can actually learn a lot about ourselves and other people. The same holds true when we take the time to study the objects and clothing left behind by people from the past. Jennifer Van Horn, an Assistant Professor of History and Art History at the University of Delaware and author of The Power of Objects in Eighteenth-Century British...

Duration: 00:54:13

135 Julie Holcomb, Moral Commerce: The Transatlantic Boycott of the Slave Labor Economy

If early Americans desired slaves mostly to produce sugarcane, cotton, rice, indigo, and tobacco, what would happen if Europeans and early Americans stopped purchasing those products? Would boycotting slave-produced goods and starving slavery of its economic sustenance be enough to end the practice of slavery in North America? Julie Holcomb, an Associate Professor of Museum Studies at Baylor University and author of Moral Commerce: The Transatlantic Boycott of the Slave Labor Economy,...

Duration: 00:41:37

134 Spencer McBride, Pulpit and Nation: Clergymen and the Politics of Revolutionary America

In Colonial America, clergymen stood as thought leaders in their local communities. They stood at the head of their congregations and many community members looked to them for knowledge and insight about the world around them. So what happened to these trusted, educated men during the American Revolution? How did they choose their political allegiances? And what work did they undertake to aid or hinder the revolutionary cause? Spencer McBride, an editor at the Joseph Smith Papers...

Duration: 00:51:09

133 Patrick Breen, The Nat Turner Revolt

The institution of African slavery in North America began in late August 1619 and persisted until the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in December 1865. Over those 246 years, many slaves plotted and conspired to start rebellions, but most of the plotted rebellions never took place. Slaveholders and whites discovered them before they could begin. Therefore, North America witnessed only a handful of slave revolts between 1614 and 1865. Nat Turner’s...

Duration: 00:59:00

132 Coll Thrush, Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of the Empire

When we explore the history of early America, we often look at people who lived and the events that took place in North America. But what about the people who lived and worked in European metropoles? What about Native Americans? Today, we explore early American history through a slightly different lens, a lens that allows us to see interactions that occurred between Native American peoples and English men and women who lived in London. Our guide for this exploration is Coll Thrush, an...

Duration: 00:36:59

131 Frank Cogliano, Thomas Jefferson's Empire of Liberty

The United States has a complicated history when it comes to ideas of empire and imperialism. Since it’s earliest days, the United States has wanted the power that came with being an empire even while declaring its distaste for them. Therefore, it should not be surprising that the man who drafted the Declaration of Independence, which severed the 13 American colonies’ ties to the most powerful empire in the mid-to-late 18century world, also had strong views about empire: Thomas Jefferson...

Duration: 00:50:43

130 Paul Revere's Ride Through History (Doing History Rev)

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 Lexington and not any of his other rides? Why is it that we remember Paul Revere on the night of April 18, 1775 and nothing about his life either...

Duration: 01:31:40

129 John Bell, The Road to Concord, 1775

How did the colonists of Massachusetts go from public protests meant to shame government officials and destroy offending property, to armed conflict with British Regulars in Lexington and Concord? John Bell, the prolific blogger behind Boston1775.net and the author of The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War, leads us on an investigation of what brought colonists and redcoats to the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Show Notes:...

Duration: 00:54:37

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