After 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
Over 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
On 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
On 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
Was 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
Can history help us solve the present-day political and cultural crisis in the United States?
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we investigate whether the past might help us with the present with Rachel Shelden, author of Washington Brotherhood: Politics, Social Life, and the Coming of the Civil War (UNCPress, 2013). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/078
He used civil disobedience before Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. made it a thing. Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, French aristocrat and military officer, fought for the United States in the American Revolutionary War and influenced America’s founding fathers on issues like slavery and capital punishment.
Veteran journalist and self-proclaimed Lafayette historian Donald Miller’s seventh book, Lafayette: His Extraordinary Life and Legacy (iUniverse, 2015) looks in depth at one of the most influential men in French and American history. Continue reading
What did it mean to be a citizen during the late-18th and early-19th centuries?
Why and how did early American sailors seem intent on proving their citizenship to the United States?
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore citizenship and maritime life during the Age of Revolutions with Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, author of Citizen Sailors: Becoming American in the Age of Revolution (Belknap Press, 2015). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/076
Plans are being developed for commemoration of at least three significant historical events next year – the centennial of women’s suffrage in New York State, the bicentennial of the Erie Canal, and the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I. These are all exciting opportunities to call attention to New York’s history.
But the New York historical community might consider going even further with these three events. In fact, the historical community might consider making 2017 a special year for New York history. Here are a few possibilities: Continue reading
New York State’s first 21 Governors had a profound impact on the development and growth of the State and Country from 1777-1864. The stories of their extraordinary lives show how the State of New York and the United States developed from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War.
Todd Elzey’s book Biographical Sketches of New York’s First 21 Governors (Be Informed Books, 2015) presents intriguing stories of these men, including: Continue reading