Category Archives: Books

Considering John Marshall


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For 34 years, John Marshall presided as the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. During his service, Marshal transformed the nation’s top court and its judicial branch into the powerful body and co-equal branch of government we know it as today.

The Doing History: Biography series continues in this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History as Joel Richard Paul, a professor of law at the University of California, Hastings Law School and author of Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times (Riverhead Books, 2018), joins us to explore the life of John Marshall and how he wrote his biography. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/210

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Spirits and Cocktails Talk Set For Rome Historical


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Spirits and Cocktails of Upstate NYFood and beverage writer Don Cazentre is set to share his research on the Mamie Taylor and other Upstate-connected cocktails in his book Spirits and Cocktails of Upstate New York: A History, on November 15th at 7 pm at the Rome Historical Society.

Upstate New York has held its place in cocktail history for centuries, beginning with the term “cocktail” itself. The word is believed to have first appeared in an 1806 Hudson Valley newspaper, when an editor described a cocktail as “a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind – sugar, water, and bitters – it is vulgarly called a bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head.” Continue reading

Russell Shorto Speaking In Orange County Nov 7th


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revolution song bookThe Albert Wisner Library in Warwick is set to host national bestselling author Russell Shorto to discuss his recent book, Revolution Song, on Wednesday, November 7 at 7 pm.

This narrative history looks back to the nation’s founding to see that people from different backgrounds had vastly different experiences of the Revolution years. Drawing on diaries, letters and autobiographies of both well known and obscure lives, Shorto resurrects their contrasting voices as they struggle through the social chaos of their day. Continue reading

Considering Biography In Early American History


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ben_franklins_worldBiography. Since the earliest days of the United States, and even before the thirteen colonies came together to forge a nation, Americans have been interested in biography. But why?

What is it about the lives of others that makes the past so interesting and fun to explore?

This episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History marks the start of the Omohundro Institute’s four-episode Doing History series about biography. This series will take us behind-the-scenes of biography and how historians and biographers reconstruct the lives of people from the past. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/209

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Radical Suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage


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born criminal In 1893, a deputy sheriff knocked on Matilda Joslyn Gage’s door in Fayetteville, New York. He served her with a supreme writ, court papers summoning her to appear before a judge for breaking the law.

“All of the crimes which I was not guilty of rushed through my mind,” she wrote later, “but I failed to remember that I was a born criminal — a woman.” Her crime: registering to vote. The verdict: guilty as charged. Continue reading

Turning Points of the American Revolution


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2018 marks the 241st anniversary of the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga and the 240th anniversary of the Franco-American Alliance. But was the victory that prompted the French to join the American war effort, truly the “turning point” of the War for Independence?

In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, National Book Award-winner Nathaniel Philbrick joins us to explore the two events he sees as better turning points in the American War for Independence: Benedict Arnold’s treason and the French Navy’s participation in the war. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/208

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Born Criminal: Suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage


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born criminalAngelica Shirley Carpenter’s new book Born Criminal: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Radical Suffragist takes a look at Matilda Gage’s life and why she is often overlooked when her comrades, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, are regularly celebrated.

Reflecting upon her 1893 arrest, Gage said, “All of the crimes which I was not guilty of rushed through my mind, but I failed to remember that I was a born criminal – a woman.” What was Gage’s crime? Registering to vote. The verdict? Guilty as charged. Continue reading

Young Benjamin Franklin


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What in the first 40 years of his life made Benjamin Franklin the genius he became?

Benjamin Franklin serves as a great window on to the early American past because as a man of “variety” he pursued many interests: literature, poetry, science, business, philosophy, philanthropy, and politics. 

But one aspect of Franklin’s life has gone largely unstudied: his childhood and early life.

In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, Nick Bunker, author of Young Benjamin Franklin: The Birth of Ingenuity (Penguin Random House, 2018), joins us to explore Benjamin Franklin’s early life and how family, childhood, and youthful experiences shaped him as a scientist and diplomat. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/207

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New Book: Chronicles of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow


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chronicles of tarrytown and sleepy hollowEdgar Mayhew Bacon’s new book Chronicles of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow (HVA Press, 2018) tells of the many myths and legends that surround the Sleepy Hollow area, from the Headless Hessian, known to grab at travelers in the night, to the sightings of the ghostly ship The Flying Dutchman.

This new edition features a foreword by Hudson Valley Master Storyteller, Jonathan Kruk. Continue reading