Tag Archives: PolHist

Freedoms We Lost in the American Revolution


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ben_franklins_worldDeclaring independence from Great Britain required the formation of new governments.

But why did Americans want and need new governments? And how did their interactions and experiences with their old, colonial governments inform their decisions to create new governments?

In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, Barbara Clark Smith, a curator in the division of political history at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the author of The Freedoms We Lost: Consent and Resistance in Revolutionary America (The New Press, 2010), leads us on an exploration of how Americans interacted with their government before the American Revolution and how the Revolution changed their interaction and ideas about government. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/154

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Nat Turner’s Revolt, 1831


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ben_franklins_worldThe 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 Rebellion in August 1831 stands as the most deadly.

In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, Patrick Breen, an Associate Professor of History at Providence College and author of The Land Shall Be Deluged in Blood: A New History of the Nat Turner Revolt (Oxford University Press, 2016), joins us to investigate the ins and outs of this bloodiest of North American slave revolts. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/133

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True Flag: TR, Twain, and the Birth of American Empire


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the true flag book coverRevealing 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

NYC Community Center Archiving the LGBTQ Revolution


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lgbt achives and libraryTucked away on the 4th floor of a much-repurposed 1850s school building in Greenwich Village, the LGBT Community Center’s National History Archive is a cultural and historical refuge-within-a-sanctuary.

The Community Center has been operating at 208 W. 13th Street since 1983. The entire building is intended to be a safe and welcoming place “where everyone is celebrated for who they are.” Today, the Center is an effervescent hub, and sponsors a broad-range of activities and programs for the lesbian, gay and transgender community, including health and wellness, arts and entertainment, and counseling. Continue reading

New York’s Long History of Peace Activism


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Vietnam Veterans Against the War take part in an anti-war march in New YorkAs a scholarly specialist on the American peace movement, I am sometimes telephoned for background information by journalists writing articles about current demonstrations against war or against nuclear weapons. Almost invariably, they have no idea that the American peace movement has a rich history. Or, if they realize that it does have such a history, they have no idea that that history goes back further than the Vietnam War. This is a very big and unfortunate gap in their knowledge. Continue reading