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 18th century world, also had strong views about empire: Thomas Jefferson wanted the United States to become a great and vast “Empire of Liberty.”
In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, Frank Cogliano, a Professor of American History at the University of Edinburgh and author of Emperor of Liberty: Thomas Jefferson’s Foreign Policy (Yale University Press, 2014), joins us to explore how Thomas Jefferson came to be a supporter and promoter of empires.. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/131
In the new book International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train (Columbia University Press, 2017) by Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum, the French ethnographer Tonnelat and his collaborator Kornblum, a native New Yorker, ride the 7 subway line to better understand the intricacies of the New York City Transit Authority 7 subway.
Nicknamed the International Express, the New York City Transit Authority 7 subway line runs through a highly diverse series of ethnic and immigrant neighborhoods in Queens. People from Andean South America, Central America, China, India, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, and Vietnam, as well as residents of a number of gentrifying blue-collar and industrial neighborhoods, fill the busy streets around the stations. The 7 train is a microcosm of a specifically urban, New York experience, in which individuals from a variety of cultures and social classes are forced to interact and get along with one another. For newcomers to the city, mastery of life in the subway space is a step toward assimilation into their new home. Continue reading
Revealing a piece of forgotten history, Stephen Kinzer looks back to the dawn of the twentieth century, when the United States first found itself with the chance to dominate faraway lands in his new book The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire (Henry Holt and Co., 2017).
How should the United States act in the world? No matter how often the question is debated, none of what we say is original. Every argument is a pale shadow of the first and greatest debate, which erupted more than a century ago. Its themes resurface every time Americans argue whether to intervene in a foreign country. That prospect thrilled some Americans. It horrified others. Their debate gripped the nation. Continue reading
Douglas Brinkley will read from and discuss his latest book, Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America (2016), at 8 pm on Thursday, April 27 in the Clark Auditorium, New York State Museum, Cultural Education Center, in downtown Albany. Earlier that same day, at 4:15 pm in the Ballroom of the Campus Center on the UAlbany uptown campus the author will hold an informal seminar with audience discussion.
Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and cosponsored by the Friends of the New York State Library. Continue reading
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?
In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, John Bell, the prolific blogger behind Boston1775.net and the author of The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War, (Westholme Publishing, 2016), leads us on an investigation of what brought colonists and redcoats to the Battles of Lexington and Concord. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/129
Historians often portray the American Revolution as an orderly, if violent, event that moved from British colonists’ high-minded ideas about freedom to American independence from Great Britain and the ratification of the Constitution of 1787.
But was the American Revolution an orderly event that took place only between Great Britain and her North American colonists? Was it really about high-minded ideas?
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Alan Taylor joins us on Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History to explore the American Revolution as a Continental event with details from his book, American Revolutions: A Continental History. 1750-1804 (W.W. Norton & Company, 2016). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/128
Of all the world’s cities, perhaps none is so defined by its Art Deco architecture as New York. Anthony W. Robins’ new book New York Art Deco: A Guide to Gotham’s Jazz Age Architecture (SUNY Press, 2017) leads readers step-by-step past the monuments of the 1920s and 30s that recast New York as the world’s modern metropolis.
Robins’ new guide includes an introductory essay describing the Art Deco phenomenon, followed by eleven walking tour itineraries in Manhattan each accompanied by a map designed by New York cartographer John Tauranac and a survey of Deco sites across the four other boroughs. Also included is a photo gallery of sixteen color plates by Art Deco photographer Randy Juster. Continue reading
A new book by Geraldine Hawkins, Elliott and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Story of a Father and His Daughter in the Gilded Age (Black Dome Press Corp. 2017) takes a look into the lives and relationship between Elliot and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Elliott Roosevelt was by all accounts as charming and charismatic as any member of that charming and charismatic family, including his godson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As an adolescent Elliott was the protector of his older brother, the then-sickly Theodore Roosevelt, and as a teenager and young man in his early twenties he roamed the American West when the west was still wild and went off on his own for an extended safari hunting big game in India. A strong social conscience instilled by his father stayed with him all his life, and he passed that compassion for the downtrodden on to his daughter, Eleanor Roosevelt. He was intelligent, handsome, wealthy, beloved by all, and he married one of the most beautiful women in New York society. Ten months later their first child, Eleanor, was born. It would seem that Elliott Roosevelt had the perfect life. Continue reading
This week on “The Historians” podcast, Sam Maggs discusses her book on women who
made often unheralded contributions to history, Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History. On part two of the podcast Bob Cudmore and Dave Greene discuss the story of a debutante spy for America during World War II, Gertrude Sanford Legendre.
Listen to the podcast here. Continue reading
In many ways, the Enlightenment gave birth to the United States. Enlightened ideas informed protests over imperial governance and taxation and over whether there should be an American bishop.
If we want to understand early America, we need to understand the Enlightenment.
In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, Caroline Winterer, a Professor of History at Stanford University and author of American Enlightenments: Pursuing Happiness in the Age of Reason (Yale University Press, 2016), takes us through her ideas about the Enlightenment and how it influenced early America. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/127