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Conversations at the Washington Library

History Podcasts

Conversations at the Washington Library is the premier podcast about George Washington and his Early American world. Join host Jim Ambuske as he talks with scholars, digital humanists, librarians, and other guests about Washington's era and the way we tell stories about the past.

Conversations at the Washington Library is the premier podcast about George Washington and his Early American world. Join host Jim Ambuske as he talks with scholars, digital humanists, librarians, and other guests about Washington's era and the way we tell stories about the past.

Location:

United States

Description:

Conversations at the Washington Library is the premier podcast about George Washington and his Early American world. Join host Jim Ambuske as he talks with scholars, digital humanists, librarians, and other guests about Washington's era and the way we tell stories about the past.

Twitter:

@MountVernon

Language:

English

Contact:

703-780-2000


Episodes

224. Unpacking the Slave Empire with Dr. Padraic Scanlan

6/24/2022
In the early decades of the nineteenth century, the British Empire began dismantling the slave system that had helped to build it. Parliament banned the transatlantic slave trade in 1807, and in 1833 the government outlawed slavery itself, accomplishing through legislative action what the United States would later achieve in part by the horrors of civil war. Abolition has long been a cause célèbre in the British imagination, with men like William Wilberforce receiving credit for moving the...

Duration:00:40:19

223. Attending a Lecture on Female Genius with Dr. Mary Sarah Bilder

5/19/2022
In May 1787, George Washington arrived in Philadelphia to attend the Constitutional Convention. One afternoon, as he waited for the other delegates to show up so the convention could begin, Washington accompanied some ladies to a public lecture at the University of Pennsylvania by a woman named Eliza Harriot Barons O’Conner. Eliza Harriot, as she signed her name, had led a transatlantic life steeped in revolutionary ideas. On that May afternoon she argued in favor of the radical notion of...

Duration:00:42:17

Introducing Intertwined Stories: Finding Hercules Posey

4/6/2022
We're delighted to bring you one of the bonus episodes from our other podcast, Intertwined: The Enslaved Community at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. In Intertwined Stories, we're featuring extended interviews with some of the expert contributors to the main Intertwined show. Today, you'll hear part of the conversation that Jim Ambuske and Jeanette Patrick had with Ramin Ganeshram about Hercules Posey. Posey was the Washington’s enslaved chef, and for more than 200 years old we didn’t...

Duration:00:19:33

222. Winning a "Compleat Victory" at Saratoga with Dr. Kevin Weddle

3/25/2022
The Battle of Saratoga in September and October of 1777 was a decisive turning point in the American War for Independence. The American victory over the British in northern New York put a stopper to London’s dreams of a swift end to the war, and convinced the French to openly declare their support for the colonial rebels. It was, in the words of one American participant, a "Compleat Victory." Yet, if we focus on the battles alone, we lose site of the entire campaign, the colorful...

Duration:00:48:13

221. Reading the Political Poetry of Hannah Lawrence Schieffelin with Dr. Kait Tonti

3/9/2022
Hannah Lawrence Schieffelin was an American poet who rhymed about some of the most important issues facing the early United States in the eighteenth century, including the British occupation of New York City during the American Revolution, the debate over the gradual abolition of slavery in the early days of the republic, and the legacy of George Washington. Schieffelin sat at the heart of the New York literary scene in these years, but until recently, most of her manuscript poetry remained...

Duration:00:55:47

220. Educating Early Americans with Drs. Mark Boonshoft and Andrew O'Shaughnessy

2/18/2022
In eighteenth-century America, you would’ve had little opportunity for formal schooling or an advanced education. Unless you were among the elite or at least of some means, your chances of attending a local academy or Harvard College weren’t great. But the American Revolution ushered in a new era of education in the United States that paved the way for the educational opportunities we take for granted today. Education became seen as central to the survival of the republic, with local...

Duration:01:04:15

219. Negotiating Federal-State Relations with Dr. Grace Mallon

2/2/2022
For years after the ratification of the Constitution, Americans debated how the Federal Government and the several states should relate to each other, and work together, to form a more perfect union. The success, if not the survival, of the new republic depended on these governments cooperating on any number of issues, from customs enforcement to Native American policy. But where there was collaboration there was also friction among them over matters like state sovereignty, slavery, and...

Duration:00:44:38

218. Finding Washington at the Plow with Dr. Bruce Ragsdale

1/20/2022
In the 1760s, tobacco was one of Virginia’s chief exports. But George Washington turned away from the noxious plant and began dreaming of wheat and a more profitable future. Washington became enamored with new ideas powering the agricultural revolution in Great Britain and set out to implement this new form of husbandry back home at Mount Vernon. His quest to become a gentleman farmer reshaped Mount Vernon’s landscape and altered the lives of the plantation’s enslaved community, and his own...

Duration:00:45:03

217. Exploring Star Territory with Dr. Gordon Fraser

1/6/2022
In the 18th and 19th centuries, North Americans looked up at the sky in wonder at the cosmos and what lay beyond earth’s atmosphere. But astronomers like Benjamin Banneker, Georgia surveyors, Cherokee storytellers, and government officials also saw in the stars ways to master space on earth by controlling the heavens above. And print technology became a key way for Americans of all stripes to find ways to understand their own place in the universe and their relationship to each other. On...

Duration:00:51:08

216. Digitally Deconstructing the Constitution with Dr. Nicholas Cole

12/23/2021
When delegates assembled in Philadelphia in the Summer of 1787 to write a new Constitution, they spent months in secret writing a document they hoped would form a more perfect Union. When we talk about the convention, we often talk of the Virginia Plan, the Connecticut Compromise, the 3/5ths clause, and other major decisions that shaped the final document. What’s harder to see are the long days the delegates spent haggling over numerous proposed amendments, precise words, phrases, and ideas...

Duration:00:47:07

215. Reading Thomas Paine's Rights of Man with Dr. Frances Chiu

12/2/2021
For most Americans, Thomas Paine is the radical Englishman, and former tax collector, who published Common Sense in early 1776. His claim that hereditary monarchy was an absurdity and that the “cause of America was in great measure the cause of all mankind” galvanized American rebels into thinking more seriously about independence than they had only a few months before. Paine would go on to publish The American Crisis and other writings during the America Revolution before trying to find...

Duration:00:27:24

Previewing Episode 1 of Intertwined: The Enslaved Community at George Washington's Mount Vernon

11/17/2021
On this week's show, we bring you Episode 1 of Intertwined: The Enslaved Community at George Washington's Mount Vernon. Entitled "Passages," it features the life of Sambo Anderson, who was just a boy when he was captured in West Africa, survived the Middle Passage, and purchased by an ambitious George Washington sometime in the late 1760s. During his years of enslavement at Mount Vernon, Anderson became a carpenter, a husband, and a father. In this episode, we tell the story of Anderson’s...

Duration:00:42:15

Intertwined: The Enslaved Community at George Washington's Mount Vernon (Coming November 15, 2021)

11/10/2021
Intertwined tells the story of the more than 577 people enslaved by George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon. Told through the biographies of Sambo Anderson, Davy Gray, William Lee, Kate, Ona Judge, Nancy Carter Quander, Edmund Parker, Caroline Branham, and the Washingtons, this eight-part podcast series explores the lives and labors of Mount Vernon’s enslaved community, and how we interpret slavery at the historic site today. Intertwined is narrated by Brenda Parker and is a production...

Duration:00:01:08

214. Weaponizing Settlement in Nova Scotia with Dr. Alexandra Montgomery

11/4/2021
Although you might not realize it, in the years before the American Revolution, Nova Scotia was all the rage. People concocted various schemes to settle it, and the British government saw it as one of the keys to its new vision of empire after the Seven Years' War. Nova Scotia has a fascinating, often troubled history. Indigenous peoples and European powers competed for the land, and access to the colony’s lucrative fishing grounds, drawing maps to stake their claims, making war, and in the...

Duration:00:47:31

213. Sailing to Freedom with Dr. Timothy D. Walker

10/23/2021
In May 1796, an enslaved woman named Ona Judge fled the presidential household in Philadelphia and escaped to freedom on a ship headed for New Hampshire. Judge’s successful flight was one of many such escapes by the sea in the 18th and 19th centuries. Enslaved people boarded ships docked in ports great and small and used coastal water ways and the ocean as highways to freedom. We often learn about the Underground Railroad in school, but what about its aquatic component? On today’s episode,...

Duration:00:43:09

212. Recruiting the Hero of Two Worlds with Mike Duncan

10/6/2021
To kick off Season 6, we bring you the story of America’s Favorite Fighting Frenchmen. In 1777, the Marquis de Lafayette sailed from France with a commission as a major general in the Continental Army. Unlike many other European soldiers of fortune, Lafayette paid his own way and had no expectation that he would be placed at the head of American forces. We best remember Lafayette for his service in the American Revolution, his close relationship with George Washington, and the key to the...

Duration:00:56:12

211. Revitalizing Myaamia Language and Culture with George Ironstrack (Summer Repeat)

9/22/2021
In the eighteenth century, the Myaamia people inhabited what are now parts of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. More commonly known in English as the Miami, the Myaamia figure prominently in the early history of the United States, especially in the 1790s, when war chief Mihšihkinaahkwa (or Little Turtle) co-led an alliance of Miami and Shawnee warriors that defeated successive American armies in the Ohio valley before meeting defeat at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. In the...

Duration:01:12:10

210. Winning a Consolation Prize with Dr. Abby Mullen (Summer Repeat)

9/15/2021
Consuls are essential to American foreign relations. Although they may not be as flashy or as powerful as an Ambassador like Thomas Jefferson or John Quincy Adams, they’re often the go-to people when an American gets in trouble abroad or when a trade deal needs to get done. Consuls operate in cities and towns throughout the world, helping to advance American interests and maintain good relations with their host countries, all while helping you replace your lost passport. Much has changed...

Duration:00:51:06

209. Reading Letters by Early American Women with Kathryn Gehred (Summer Repeat)

9/1/2021
If you pull any decent history book off your shelf right now, odds are that it’s filled with quotes from letters, diaries, or account books that help the author tell her story and provide the evidence for her interpretation of the past. It’s almost always the case that the quotation you read in a book is just one snippet of a much longer document. Perhaps, for example, Catharine Greene’s letters to her husband Nathanael offer the reader insight into some aspect of the family business she was...

Duration:01:05:37

208. Harnessing Harmony in the Early Republic with Billy Coleman (Summer Repeat)

8/18/2021
On September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key began composing "The Star-Spangled Banner after witnessing the British attack on Fort McHenry. Of all the things he could have done after seeing that flag, why did Key write a song? And how did his new composition fit into a much longer history of music as a form of political persuasion in the Early Republic? On today’s episode, Dr. Billy Coleman joins us explore the power of music in the early United States, and how Federalists in particular used it...

Duration:01:05:07