Tag Archives: Political History

The Age of American Revolutions


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ben_franklins_worldThe American Revolution inspired revolutions in France, the Caribbean, and in Latin and South America between the late 18th and mid-19th centuries.

Naturally, Spanish and Portuguese American revolutionaries turned to the United States for assistance with their fights. How did Americans in the United States respond to these calls for assistance? What did they make of these other “American Revolutions?”

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Caitlin Fitz, an Assistant Professor of History at Northwestern University and the author of Our Sister Republics: The United States in an Age of American Revolutions (Liveright, 2016), helps us investigate answers to these questions. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/090

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The North Country Man Who Threatened A President


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P1JosephDoldoWhen presidential historians and scholars rate America’s greatest leaders, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is among the few who nearly always appear among the top five, along with Washington and Lincoln. While others certainly served admirably, those three achieved elevated status by facing stern tests of leadership during great crises in our history: the battle for independence, the fight to preserve the Union, and in FDR’s case, both the Great Depression and World War II.

It’s less well known that Roosevelt very nearly didn’t serve as President due to assassination attempts prior to his first inauguration. One of those stories brought ignominious headlines to the North Country over a period of several months.

Roosevelt first won the presidency in November 1932. The 20th Amendment was ratified on January 23, 1933, officially establishing January 20 as the new inauguration date for all future presidents, and making FDR the last President to be inaugurated on March 4. He very nearly didn’t survive the waiting period. Continue reading

Civil Rights: Resisting The New Jim Crow Rules


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President Johnson Signs Civil Rights Act 1964The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) will host the culminating event for its CHANGING AMERICA exhibit and programs: a Community Conversation on the subject of “Resisting the New Jim Crow” on Saturday, July 9, at 2 pm.

NAHOF invites the public to join in sharing thoughts about the ways to engage in the work of racial justice at this time. This conversation will aim to help each be active, in many small ways, in standing together to work toward an end to such things as the school-to-prison pipeline, police brutality, and the legacy of white supremacy that still perpetuates racism and de-values black lives. Continue reading

New Exhibit Highlights Alexander Hamilton In Albany


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Portrait of Alexander Hamilton, ca.1810One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), was a brilliant politician-lawyer who served as an indispensable aide to George Washington during and after the American Revolution.

Among his many achievements, Hamilton is credited with creating the financial system of the United States, and was the first Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. The current Broadway musical sensation Hamilton has sparked an interest in the man on the $10 bill.

The Albany Institute of History & Art’s new exhibition, Spotlight: Alexander Hamilton, highlights Hamilton’s connections to Albany, New York through personal papers, family heirlooms, historic preservation efforts, and a stunning portrait painted by Albany’s own Ezra Ames (1768—1836). Continue reading

Understanding Shays’ Rebellion


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ben_franklins_worldAfter achieving independence from Great Britain, the new United States and its member states had to pay war debts. As the national government lacked the power to tax its citizens, the problem of paying war debts fell to the states.

Many states tried to solve the post-war debt problem by paying state debts before national debts. But Massachusetts tried to pay both. Its strategy created hardship for many Bay Staters and ultimately sparked a rebellion.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Sean Condon, a Professor of History at Merrimack College, joins us to investigate the rebellion, which we remember today as Shays’ Rebellion. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/087

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Benjamin Franklin in London


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ben_franklins_worldOver the course of his long life, Benjamin Franklin traveled to and lived in London on two different occasions. The first time he went as a teenager. The second as a man and colonial agent. All told he spent nearly 18 years living in the heart of the British Empire.

How did Franklin’s experiences in London shape his opportunities and view of the world?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, George Goodwin, author of Benjamin Franklin in London: The British Life of America’s Founding Father (Yale University Press, 2016), leads us on an exploration of Franklin’s life in London. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/086

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John Jay Medal Awarded Historian Joseph Ellis


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John Jay Medal AwardsOn May 14th, the Jay Heritage Center (JHC) held its second John Jay Medal Dinner and recognized two individuals whose efforts have helped elevate and strengthen the legacy of native New Yorker, John Jay.

JHC’s first honoree was Prof. Joseph J. Ellis, one of the nation’s leading historians and the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Founding Brothers: the Revolutionary Generation.  Ellis’ exhaustive and illuminating research for his newest book The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution 1783-1789 restores John Jay to the pantheon of nation-builders alongside Washington, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Continue reading

The Erie Canal Marks A 200th Anniversary


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aqueduct bridge at rochesterOn May 17, 1816, the State’s Canal Commissioners met in New York City. This was their first meeting since being reauthorized by the legislature on April 17th, just a few weeks earlier. Five commissioners were appointed by the legislature – Stephen Van Rensselaer, DeWitt Clinton, Samuel Young, Joseph Ellicott and Myron Holley. Several of them had been canal commissioners since 1810. During that period they had surveyed much of the route in person and had kept the dream of the waterway alive during the intervening dismal years of war on their frontier (War of 1812). At the May 17th meeting the commissioners initiated actions that ensured that construction of the Erie Canal would begin a year later. Continue reading

The Enlightenment of Cadwallader Colden


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the enlightenment of cadawaller coldenWas there a conservative Enlightenment? Could a self-proclaimed man of learning and progressive science also have been an agent of monarchy and reaction?

Cadwallader Colden (1688–1776), an educated Scottish emigrant and powerful colonial politician, was at the forefront of American intellectual culture in the mid-eighteenth century.

While living in rural New York, he recruited family, friends, servants, and slaves into multiple scientific ventures and built a transatlantic network of contacts and correspondents that included Benjamin Franklin and Carl Linnaeus. Over several decades, Colden pioneered colonial botany, produced new theories of animal and human physiology, authored an influential history of the Iroquois, and developed bold new principles of physics and an engaging explanation of the cause of gravity. Continue reading