American History Tellers

By Wondery

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Category: History

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Subscribers: 4910
Reviews: 23


 Feb 26, 2021

Hank Hill
 Nov 18, 2020
Decent


 Apr 10, 2020


 Mar 18, 2020

Liberal view of America
 Mar 3, 2020
I enjoyed some of their shows but they all have an extreme liberal bias. I quit listening after I started the cold war, sorry but nothing about communism or socialism was good. You could ask the millions of victims but their dead.

Description

The Cold War, Prohibition, the Gold Rush, the Space Race. Every part of your life -the words you speak, the ideas you share- can be traced to our history, but how well do you really know the stories that made America? We’ll take you to the events, the times and the people that shaped our nation. And we’ll show you how our history affected them, their families and affects you today. Hosted by Lindsay Graham (not the Senator). From Wondery, the network behind Tides Of History, Fall Of Rome and Dirty John.


Episode Date
Bleeding Kansas | John Brown’s Crusade | 1
00:43:49

In the 1850s, the United States was lurching toward a crisis over slavery -- and abolitionist John Brown stepped into the fray. Brown believed it was his God-given destiny to destroy slavery. His crusade took him from abolitionist meetings in the Northeast, to the Underground Railroad in Ohio, to the bloody plains of Kansas.

In 1854, a fierce conflict erupted over whether the territory of Kansas would join the Union as a free state or slave state. As tensions escalated, Brown would rush to the center of the gathering storm and hatch a violent plan for striking back against proslavery forces.

Listen to new episodes 1 week early and to all episodes ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App https://wondery.app.link/historytellers.

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Apr 14, 2021
Wondery Presents: Secret Sauce
00:05:52

In Wondery’s newest series, Secret Sauce, hosts John Frye and Sam Donner explore the stories and successes behind some of the most inspiring businesses, creative innovators and intrepid entrepreneurs. 

First up, we’re diving into the company that revolutionized how we vacation, travel, and even how we trust other people...we’re talking about Airbnb. In 2008, Air Bed and Breakfast launched at SXSW with high hopes of becoming an alternative to overbooked hotels...but they ended up with just two people booking a stay...and one of them was a co-founder of the company. How did Airbnb persevere through adversity to become a company that would forever change the way we think about travel? What was their magic - their secret sauce - that made them such an unlikely success story? And what lessons can we learn from them? 

Listen at wondery.fm/SS_HistoryTellers.

Apr 13, 2021
America's Monuments | The Trouble With Confederate Statues | 7
00:40:19

In recent years, there’s been a movement to remove statues of Confederate leaders and other monuments that some see as celebrations of America’s racist history. But does taking down these statues help address the racial inequities that plague our nation to this day? Or is it just erasing history? 

In his forthcoming book How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America, author Clint Smith tackles these and other questions around what our public monuments say -- or, sometimes, fail to say -- about America’s past. He and Lindsay discuss such landmarks as Monticello, the Whitney Plantation, and the Statue of Liberty, and explore the different meanings they have for different Americans, especially in our present moment of racial reckoning.

For more on Clint Smith: https://www.clintsmithiii.com/ 

Listen to new episodes 1 week early and to all episodes ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App https://wondery.app.link/historytellers.

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Apr 07, 2021
America's Monuments | 58,000 Names | 6
00:39:04

The Vietnam War was one of the most divisive conflicts in American history. Over 58,000 Americans died in the fighting; many more returned home with wounds both visible and hidden. 

When veterans lobbied for a memorial to honor American soldiers lost in Vietnam, a young college student named Maya Lin was picked from a blind competition to design it. Her unconventional vision would lead to a bitter dispute over the nature and purpose of public art in America — and how a nation heals its wounds after a collective loss. 

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Mar 31, 2021
Wondery Presents: Spy Affair
00:05:36

A charismatic Russian woman arrives in the US on a mission to improve relations between the two countries, and she soon makes some powerful friends. But who is Maria Butina? And who is she working for? As Maria gets closer to the rich and connected she also attracts the attention of the FBI. In the politically charged world of US-Russia relations, everyone has secrets and almost nothing is what it seems. From Wondery, the makers of The Shrink Next Door and Dr. Death comes SPY AFFAIR a story about deception, appearances and betrayal. Hosted by Celia Aniskovich.


Listen today at wondery.fm/SA_HistoryTellers

Mar 29, 2021
America's Monuments | The Mansion of the King | 5
00:41:04

Few historic residences are more synonymous with their owners than Graceland. Purchased by Elvis Presley in 1957, the stately Memphis mansion was the heart of his private world and his most prized possession. He always swore he’d never sell it.   

But after Elvis’s sudden and tragic death, Graceland faced an uncertain future. It would take a risky move by his ex-wife Priscilla to save the mansion and secure its place as a lasting monument to one of America’s greatest musical icons.

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Mar 24, 2021
America's Monuments | The Longest Bridge | 4
00:38:10

In the early 1920s, San Francisco was a picturesque city on a narrow, isolated peninsula. Known for its scenic, natural beauty, it had the potential to become one of America’s leading metropolises. But to fuel its economic growth, it needed a bridge -- across one of the most treacherous bodies of water on the Western seaboard.

To build a bridge across the strait known as the Golden Gate, engineers and construction crews would have to fight against blistering winds, vicious currents, and punishing weather. Workers would dive below the frigid water, and ascend to breathtaking heights. In the end, they would forge an engineering marvel at the western entrance to America – and capture the spirit of an iconic city.

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Mar 17, 2021
America's Monuments | Four Faces | 3
00:43:34

In 1927, workers began blasting granite rock off a towering cliff in South Dakota’s Black Hills. It was the start of an arduous 14-year struggle to carve the portraits of four American presidents into Mount Rushmore.

The feat required grueling labor in extreme conditions. And it was led by an obsessive sculptor named Gutzon Borglum. Borglum was the creative genius behind Rushmore, with a talent and ego as big as the monument itself. But he was also the biggest threat to its completion.

His masterpiece would become one of the most iconic — and controversial — monuments in America. 

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Mar 10, 2021
America’s Monuments | A Passage Through Panama | 2
00:40:14

For centuries, sailors and merchants dreamed of finding a passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans across the narrow isthmus of Central America. But no natural passage existed. To get ships across the fifty-mile stretch of land, someone would have to dig a canal.

The French tried first, and failed. Then, in 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt and the U.S. took on the challenge. Struggling against harsh weather, forbidding terrain and political turmoil, the United States would endeavor not just to build a canal – but to establish itself as a formidable international power in the new century.

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Mar 03, 2021
America’s Monuments | The Colossus of New York Harbor | 1
00:41:20

It’s perhaps the most iconic of American monuments -- the Statue of Liberty. A towering 305-foot sculpture of copper and steel that is synonymous with American values of liberty, freedom and self-determination. But it began as a gift from France. And when it first arrived on American soil, its future was far from certain.

For over a decade, artists, craftsmen and everyday people from France and the United States worked together on what would be dubbed America’s “New Colossus.”  The statue they built would take on new associations with the passage of time -- but it would forever remain a symbol of America’s loftiest ideals.

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Feb 24, 2021
Great Chicago Fire | Out of the Ashes | 4
00:35:04

After the 1871 fire destroyed a third of their city, Chicagoans wanted to do more than rebuild. They wanted to envision a new kind of American city. That included everything from changes to fire codes and labor laws to an entirely new style of architecture -- the skyscraper.

Professor Ann Keating is an urban historian and expert on Chicago history both before and after the Great Fire. She and Lindsay discuss the rapid growth and social changes that made Chicago so vulnerable, what lessons city leaders learned -- or failed to learn -- in the fire’s aftermath, and the parallels between the Great Chicago Fire and other, more recent urban disasters.

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Feb 17, 2021
Great Chicago Fire | The Great Rebuilding | 3
00:41:47

As dawn broke on October 10, 1871, the dazed survivors of the Great Chicago Fire stumbled through their burned and battered city. A 30-hour inferno had reduced Chicago to ashes.

Homes and business were replaced by gaping holes and smoldering rubble. Tens of thousands of people had lost their houses and jobs. Many had lost loved ones. As aid poured into the city, officials turned their attention to the challenges of distributing relief and maintaining order.

But the embers had barely cooled when residents went to work throwing up makeshift structures and reopening their businesses. Over the next two years, Chicagoans would rapidly rebuild their city.  It was the start of a recovery that would spur architectural innovation and urban renewal, turning Chicago into a modern metropolis.

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Feb 10, 2021
Great Chicago Fire | Fleeing the Flames | 2
00:37:18

Just before midnight on October 8, 1871, the inferno that had ravaged Chicago’s West Side leapt the Chicago River. A wall of flames surged toward downtown, threatening to devour Chicago’s most magnificent hotels, offices, and government buildings. Mayor Roswell B. Mason raced to the Chicago courthouse, but he would soon find he was helpless to save his city.

Panic-stricken South Side residents streamed out of their homes and fled to the North Side, the stately residential area they were certain was safe. Dodging flaming debris and crashing buildings, they flooded the streets. But the fire’s path of destruction was relentless. The flames were following the refugees to the North Side, hurtling straight toward the Chicago Waterworks.

It was the final link in the city’s defense. Chicagoans knew that if the Waterworks burned, their city was doomed.

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Feb 03, 2021
Great Chicago Fire | We Are Going to Have a Burn | 1
00:37:58

In 1871, Chicago was the fastest growing city in the world. Built almost entirely of wood, it was also a tinderbox. That October, a severe drought ravaged the city. Fires ignited constantly, and Chicago’s firefighters were at their breaking point. But the worst was yet to come.

On a hot, windy night, a fire broke out in a barn owned by Irish immigrants Catherine and Patrick O’Leary. By the time firefighters arrived to the scene, gale-force winds were fanning the flames with astonishing speed. Over the next 30 hours, Chicago would battle a raging inferno more destructive than any ever faced by an American city. 

But from the ashes would also come rebirth—a transformation that would turn Chicago into a modern metropolis.

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Jan 27, 2021
Presidential Inaugurations: Traditions, Crisis, and Unity | 1
00:37:25

As America prepares to swear in a new president, we’ll look back to the inaugurations of the past. Jim Bendat, author of Democracy's Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President, 1789-2013, joins us as we cover the friction between the outgoing and incoming president, the Capitol Hill breach on January 6th,  and how inaugurations have served as a powerful reminder of the strength of American democracy, even in times of crisis.

For more on Jim Bendat: https://www.inaugurationbook.com/.

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Jan 20, 2021
Coal Wars | Charles Keeney on Restoring His Great Grandfather’s Legacy | 5
00:46:33

Once the coal miners lost the Battle of Blair Mountain, the story of their uprising was suppressed, and their leader Frank Keeney eventually faded into obscurity—even among members of his own family. But historian Charles Keeney, Frank Keeney’s great grandson, has made it a personal mission to raise public awareness of the mine wars and the pivotal role his ancestor played. 

Charles Keeney is the founder of the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum and author of The Road to Blair Mountain: Saving a Mine Wars Battlefield from King Coal. He’s also the vice president of Friends of Blair Mountain, an organization dedicated to the preservation and development of the Blair Mountain Battlefield site. He and Lindsay discuss the circumstances that led to Frank Keeney’s radicalization, his friendship with Mother Jones, and why the miners’ uprising resonates with younger generations today. 

For more on Charles Keeney: https://twitter.com/cbelmontkeeney 

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Jan 13, 2021
Coal Wars | The Battle of Blair Mountain | 4
00:39:38

The Coal Wars reached an explosive climax in August 1921, as thousands of miners furious over the death of their hero Sid Hatfield shouldered their weapons and marched south. Their destination was Mingo County, where they hoped to free their fellow miners jailed under martial law.

But first, they would have to cross Blair Mountain and armed men led by Logan County’s ruthless anti-union Sheriff Don Chafin. With machine guns and private planes at his disposal, Chafin was prepared to defeat the miners at any cost. Soon, two civilian armies erupted in war, and Blair Mountain became the battleground for the largest armed uprising since the Civil War.

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Jan 06, 2021
Coal Wars | Bloody Mingo | 3
00:39:56

In May 1920, Sheriff Sid Hatfield won the loyalty of Mingo County’s miners after a deadly gun battle that left seven Baldwin-Felts agents dead on the streets of Matewan, West Virginia. That summer, the coal companies brought in trainloads of strikebreakers to get the mines running again. But local miners were electrified by the Matewan Massacre and they waged an all-out guerilla war as Hatfield awaited trial for murder. 

For months, gunfire and explosions echoed over the hills of Mingo County as the coal companies and their hired guards fought back with equal force. As “Bloody Mingo” made national headlines, the Governor moved to stop the unrest, imposing martial law. Soon, the military regime ruling Mingo County unleashed new atrocities against the miners and their families. And a shocking assassination sparked calls for revenge.

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Dec 30, 2020
Coal Wars | The Matewan Massacre | 2
00:41:15

In March 1913, famed labor activist Mother Jones was locked up in a shack in Pratt, West Virginia, suffering from pneumonia and a high fever as she awaited court martial. For a year, the striking miners she led endured hunger and violence as they waged their desperate battle for the right to organize. Now, their struggle hung in the balance. West Virginia was under martial law, and hope for victory over the powerful coal companies seemed dimmer than ever. 

Newly inaugurated Governor Henry Hatfield vowed to end the crisis. But the deal would drive a wedge through the miners’ movement. New leaders took charge of the union, steering the miners through World War I and a daring new campaign into the state’s isolated southern counties. Soon, a violent showdown in the mountain town of Matewan would ignite a new, dangerous escalation in the conflict.

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Dec 23, 2020
Coal Wars | The Most Dangerous Woman in America | 1
00:39:28

In the early 20th century, coal was the fuel that powered the nation. But the men who mined it in the rugged and remote hills of West Virginia endured harsh exploitation by the coal companies that controlled their lives. In the spring of 1912, miners in West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley rose up against the companies and their powerful allies in law enforcement with a strike for their right to join a union.

But the mine operators responded with force. They hired private security agents to attack the miners and their families and evict them from their homes. Soon, the escalating conflict brought the era’s most notorious labor activist, Mother Jones, to the scene. A self-described “hellraiser,” Jones joined forces with miners on the ground, sparking a series of bloody armed clashes that would rage across West Virginia for the next decade.

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Dec 16, 2020
Supreme Court Landmarks | The Outsize Power of the Supreme Court Today | 8
00:37:36

Throughout our series, we've seen how social movements and partisan politics helped influence the decisions of landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases, and thus shape America itself. But how did the Supreme Court get so powerful when America's founders imagined a more limited role? Today, the idea of court-packing, first proposed by Roosevelt to push through his New Deal agenda, is back as a way to rein in the power of the Court. In this episode, Lindsay speaks with Rachel Shelden, an associate professor of history at Penn State and director of the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center about how the Court’s power has grown since its founding, and how politicians and presidents could use that to their advantage.

For more on Rachel Shelden: https://history.la.psu.edu/directory/ras6620

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Dec 09, 2020
Supreme Court Landmarks | Jane Roe | 7
00:41:37

In 1970, a 22-year-old woman in Texas named Norma McCorvey tried and failed to get an abortion from her doctor. Abortion was illegal in Texas, just as it was in most states. Women hoping to terminate their pregnancies had few options, and many resorted to risky back-alley procedures.

McCorvey was soon introduced to a pair of young lawyers who hoped to go to court to challenge the Texas law banning abortion. Before long, McCorvey became the plaintiff known only as “Jane Roe.”

Her case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, where the Justices would rule on whether the constitutional right to privacy applied to abortion. The Court’s landmark ruling changed the lives of American women, and unleashed intense controversy, dividing the nation for decades to come.

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Dec 02, 2020
Supreme Court Landmarks | A Recount in Florida | 6
00:42:21

The morning of Nov. 8, 2000, Americans woke up to an undecided election. Pollsters had predicted a close race between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush, but no one knew just how narrow the margins would be. It all hinged on Florida, where 25 electoral votes were up for grabs.

Over the next 36 days, armies of lawyers waged a bitter fight to determine how to count the votes in Florida. It was a battle that would eventually find its way to the Supreme Court.

In its long history, the Court had been asked to weigh in on political matters, but never before had it intervened in the results of a presidential election. The case that became known as Bush v. Gore would ultimately send one man to the White House and expose the Court to intense public scrutiny.

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Nov 25, 2020
Supreme Court Landmarks | The Warren Court | 5
00:40:43

Before the 1950s, the Supreme Court was best known as an institution that adhered to the status quo. It often sought to protect the rights of property owners and businessmen, shying away from cases that took direct aim at controversial social or political issues.

But when a popular former California governor became Chief Justice in 1953, all that changed. Earl Warren’s court would take on some of the hottest issues of the times, ruling on cases where individual rights would take precedent, such as Brown v. Board of Education and Baker v. Carr, and where First Amendment and Fifth Amendment rights would be strengthened, such as Engle v. Vitale and Miranda v. Arizona

For sixteen years, the Warren Court would radically reshape the legal and social landscape of America.

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Nov 18, 2020
Supreme Court Landmarks | Loaded Weapon | 4
00:40:45

Through most of 1941, as fighting raged across Europe, the United States held back from entering the war. That all changed in December, when Japanese fighter planes bombed Pearl Harbor and the nation found itself mobilizing for World War II. Suddenly, the frenzy to fight enemies abroad turned to suspicion against those at home.

President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, giving the military the power to detain and permanently jail over 110,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast. But three young detainees would defy their fate.

Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayshi and Mitsuye Endo would challenge the U.S. policy of Japanese internment and bring their cases all the way to the Supreme Court — pitting the wartime powers of the United States against the constitutional rights of American citizens.

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Nov 11, 2020
Supreme Court Landmarks | Separate and Unequal | 3
00:36:05

After the Civil War, America began to rebuild a shattered nation. For the first time, the country could create a society without slavery, and a nation where Black people could forge their own path as independent citizens.

But by the 1890s, the laws and policies that promised new rights for Black citizens in the South were under assault. In Louisiana, white politicians attempted to turn back the clock on racial progress by passing the Separate Cars Act and reinstating segregation. 

The move prompted a Black New Orleans activist group called the Comité des Citoyens to rise up and challenge the law. Members Louis Martinet and Albion Tourgee aimed to build a test case – a case that would force the Supreme Court to strike down segregation laws, and disprove the idea that “separate” could ever be “equal.” 

The high-stakes case would define race relations for decades to come. And it would begin with a brief train car ride in New Orleans, by a 29-year-old shoemaker named Homer Plessy.

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Nov 04, 2020
Supreme Court Landmarks | The Cherokee Cases | 2
00:40:54

In the early 1800s, the United States was growing rapidly, seeking land and resources for its expanding population. But the growth threatened Native American communities throughout the East. In the southern Appalachia region, the Cherokee Nation held millions of acres of prime farmland and forests, managed by a centuries-old tradition and a thriving government. But the state of Georgia, and a relentless President Andrew Jackson, set their sights on seizing the land. 

When the Georgia statehouse declared political war, Cherokee advocates fought back. Newspaper publisher Elias Boudinot and Cherokee Chief John Ross took their challenge all the way to the Supreme Court, forcing Chief Justice John Marshall to weigh in on two monumental cases, Cherokee Nation v. Georgia and Worcester v. Georgia. 

At stake was a decision that would test the limits of the high court’s power -- and determine the future and sovereignty of a threatened nation. 

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Oct 28, 2020
Supreme Court Landmarks | The Predicament of John Marshall | 1
00:35:38

After the War of Independence, the new American government created the Supreme Court to be have the final word on disputes that the states couldn’t settle. But at first, the Court was anything but Supreme.

For nearly a decade, Congress and the President held the real power. In practice the Supreme Court was weak, ineffectual and disorganized – a post so unappealing that many men turned down nominations to serve on its bench. 

All that would change with the appointment of Chief Justice John Marshall and the arrival of a case called Marbury v. Madison — a political drama that would embroil the new President Thomas Jefferson, outgoing president John Adams, the U.S. Congress, and even the Chief Justice himself.

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Oct 21, 2020
Encore: Political Parties | The Reagan Revolution | 6
00:49:52

The year 1968 marked a watershed in American politics. Anti-war protests were roiling the country. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead in Memphis. Democratic President Lyndon Johnson’s approval rating was plummeting. The assassination of Democratic presidential hopeful Robert Kennedy would throw the party into disarray, toppling the New Deal coalition built by Franklin Delano Roosevelt two generations earlier and leading to a conservative surge.

The political sea change would drive Republican nominee Richard Nixon to the White House in 1968. And it would eventually elect a former actor and California governor who would change the face of American politics in ways that are still being felt to this day. His name was Ronald Reagan.

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Oct 14, 2020
Encore: Political Parties | The New Deal Coalition | 5
00:45:49

The 1929 stock market crash saw 14 billion dollars vanish in a matter of hours — and with it, the Republican party’s decades-long grip on American politics. As Americans lost their livelihoods, they turned to President Herbert Hoover for relief. But the self-made man who had so successfully reversed his own fortunes seemed unable to do the same for his country. With discontent growing, Hoover turned on World War veterans demanding early bonus payouts to support their families. It would prove the last straw for many Americans.

The landslide election of 1932 would mark a profound realignment in U.S. politics, bringing urban centers under Democratic control for the first time in the party’s history. And it would propel into the White House Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose sweeping New Deal would permanently transform the American political landscape.

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Oct 07, 2020
Encore: Political Parties | The Golden Age of the GOP | 4
00:48:05

As the Civil War came to a close, the government set its sights once again on the future of the United States. Working closely with a Republican President, the Republican Congress expected a swift and peaceful road to Reconstruction. But then, a mere four weeks into his second term, Lincoln was assassinated, leaving the country in the hands of Andrew Johnson, a Southern Democrat who had personally owned slaves just three years before.

While Johnson’s unwavering commitment to states rights cultivated a fraught relationship with his Congress, the tumult would ultimately be short-lived. After just four years of a Democratic president, America’s Grand Old Party would ascend to power—and hold it—for over 70 years.

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Sep 30, 2020
Encore: Political Parties | The Turbulent 1850s | 3
00:43:58

The United States won the The Mexican–American War in the 1840s, and with it vast new stretches of western land. But in the 1850s, the question of what to do with this land – and whether to allow slavery in the new territories or not – became a redning issue for politicians of all stripes.

While the Whig Party collapsed over the issue, Democrats split into Northern and Southern factions, and a new Republican Party tried to bind the Union with an appeal to old Jeffersonian values. But in the houses of Congress and across the nation, negotiations fail, compromise is abandoned; and the issue of slavery will overshadow all else, leading to Civil War.

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Sep 23, 2020
Encore: Political Parties | Jacksonian Democracy | 2
00:47:34

Andrew Jackson lost the 1824 presidential election to John Quincy Adams through what some called a “corrupt bargain” in the House of Representatives. The maneuver was masterminded by hot-headed but politically savvy Henry Clay, who with Adams, announced their intent for far-reaching new federal programs. Fierce opposition to these policies united pro-Jackson supporters who formed a new party, the Democrats, to rally around their hero and elect him to president in 1828.

But while Adams was defeated, Henry Clay had no intention of leaving the fight. He helped lead a new party which gathered together anti-Jackson, fiscal conservatives, and pro-states rights factions. The rise of Clay’s new Whig party seemed unstoppable–they captured both houses of Congress and the presidency–until, on April 4, 1841, president William Henry Harrison died in office and gave John Tyler the power of the veto.

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Sep 16, 2020
Encore: Political Parties | A Tale of Two Parties | 1
00:46:05

In the earliest days of the United States, there was no such thing as an organized political party. George Washington, elected twice to the presidency unanimously in the Electoral College, warned the new nation against political factions, writing that organized parties would become, “potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men subvert the power of the people.”

But immediately after Washington vacated the Presidency, factions did spring up and bitter personal rivalries began to shape the nation. The two first political parties–the Federalists and the Republicans–had very different views of what America should become, and were led by very different men: Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.

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Sep 09, 2020
The Gilded Age | What America Failed to Learn from the Gilded Age | 7
00:38:35

Throughout our series, corporate giants and their exploitation of workers was disturbing evidence of capitalism run amok. That greed and disregard for the working class defined the Gilded Age. 

But the problems of that era haven’t disappeared. The economic disparities that were forged in the Gilded Age are still affecting our country. And monolithic companies like Facebook and Apple continue to grow, leaving a burning question of whether big tech has too much power. 

Today, Lindsay speaks with Tim Wu, a Columbia law professor and author of “The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age,” about the economic and social changes that took place then, and how they set the stage for modern America. 

For more on Tim Wu: http://www.timwu.org/about.html

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Sep 02, 2020
The Gilded Age | Cross of Gold | 6
00:42:15

In the spring of 1894, hundreds of unemployed workers trudged through rain and snow on a 400-mile trek from Ohio to the nation’s capital. They joined armies of jobless men from all across the country to march on Washington, fed up with the government’s inaction in the face of the crippling Panic of 1893.

The century’s most punishing economic depression unleashed fierce political turmoil. A bitter debate over the gold standard consumed Americans nationwide. With the Treasury on the brink of collapse, President Cleveland made the desperate and controversial decision to turn to the nation’s top banker for a bailout.

The conflict over currency culminated in the emotional election of 1896, which pitted William McKinley against the charismatic reformer William Jennings Bryan, who electrified voters with his sensational “Cross of Gold” speech.

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Aug 26, 2020
The Gilded Age | Workers Revolt! | 5
00:39:15

As the century came to a close, labor unrest reached explosive new heights. Industrial expansion made businessmen and bankers rich. But workers faced low wages, long hours, and dangerous conditions. They sought strength in numbers, fighting for basic rights against the power of big business—and often faced violent pushback.

In May 1886, a bomb exploded at a peaceful labor protest in Chicago’s Haymarket Square. Police fired their guns into the crowds. Panic engulfed the city. And the nation’s most powerful labor union suffered a devastating blow. 

In Homestead, Pennsylvania, steelworkers waged a bloody battle against private security forces. And in Pullman, Illinois, railroad workers laid down their tools, sparking a nationwide railroad shutdown—one that President Grover Cleveland would crush with brutal force.

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Aug 19, 2020
The Gilded Age | Exclusion | 4
00:43:43

Amid the glamor and growth of the Gilded Age, racism and anti-immigrant hostility swept the nation. With the end of Reconstruction, white communities across the South stripped African Americans of their hard-won political rights and economic gains. But a new generation of activists fought the growing wave of discrimination and violence. Booker T. Washington championed black education, and journalist Ida B. Wells waged a fierce campaign against lynching.

In the West, labor groups fueled anti-Chinese resentment, building support for the first major federal law limiting immigration. In the mid-1880s, white mobs from Wyoming to Washington descended on Chinese neighborhoods, stoking hysteria and casting immigrants out of their homes.

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Aug 12, 2020
The Gilded Age | How the Other Half Lives | 3
00:40:50

In the spring of 1883, Mrs. Alva Vanderbilt threw the grandest party New York had ever seen, claiming her spot at the top of the city’s social hierarchy. The Gilded Age drove feverish growth in America’s cities. Populations swelled. Skyscrapers and steel bridges soared above city skylines. And the new economic elite poured their outrageous fortunes into magnificent mansions and lavish balls.

But there were two sides to Gilded Age cities. Less than a mile away from Manhattan’s elegant brownstones, the poor eked out a living in sooty factories and crowded slums. In the 1880s and 1890s, reformers rose up to challenge inequality—galvanizing workers and exposing the dark underbelly of urban growth.

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Aug 05, 2020
The Gilded Age | Rise of the Robber Barons | 2
00:41:57

In the 1870s and 1880s, businessmen clawed their way to the top of the new industrial economy, accumulating staggering fortunes. Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller ruthlessly eliminated his rivals one by one, seizing control over the nation’s refineries. Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie revolutionized the industry with his relentless drive to cut costs. And banker J. P. Morgan conquered Wall Street, commanding vast amounts of capital to consolidate corporations.

But the concentration of wealth and power had dire consequences for ordinary Americans, and in the summer of 1877 frustrated workers fought back. They blocked freight trains, shut down major rail lines and crippled the nation’s economy.

The strike spread like wildfire and sparked deadly violence.

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Jul 29, 2020
The Gilded Age | Carnival of Corruption | 1
00:39:20

In 1869, America connected its vast, sprawling territory with its most ambitious project to date: the transcontinental railroad. The country had just emerged from the ashes of the Civil War, and the railroad galvanized people from coast to coast, offering opportunity and promise. But corruption soon cast a pall over the nation.

Scandal after scandal tainted the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant. A pair of unscrupulous investors schemed to drive up the price of gold, unleashing chaos from Wall Street to the nation’s farms. Prominent congressmen funneled public money into a sham corporation to profit off the railroad. And government agents conspired with whiskey distillers to defraud the Treasury of millions.

It was the dawn of the Gilded Age—an era of dramatic material progress and sordid greed and corruption.

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Jul 22, 2020
Stonewall | Eric Marcus Remembers the Voices of Stonewall | 5
00:39:14

When the events of Stonewall happened in 1969, Eric Marcus was just a boy away at a New Jersey summer camp. Nearly 20 years later, he would document the voices of revolutionary LGBTQ activists like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Frank Kameny for his book, “Making Gay History: The Half-Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights.” 

While his work started out as a printed oral history, Marcus knew that taping those interviews would “one day have value beyond my book.” And he was right. Many of those interviews can be heard on the Making Gay History podcast, which he founded and hosts. 

Today, Marcus talks about his conversations with people who shaped the early LGBTQ movement. He’ll also share what people who were patrons of the Stonewall Inn told him about their time there. 

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Jul 15, 2020
Stonewall | Pride | 4
00:46:38

After a late-night police raid on the Stonewall Inn in June 1969, the LGBTQ community fought back in the streets of Greenwich Village. Suddenly, the LGBTQ rights movement found itself catapulted onto the national stage.  

But questions of how radical an approach to take would pit young activists against the pioneers of the 1950s and 1960s. Even with the formation of new organizations like the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance, questions emerged. Would it be better to take part in the political process? Or to stage confrontational “zaps?”

These new groups would soon be engulfed by in-fighting over goals, strategy, membership, and how the LGTBQ rights movement fit into the larger landscape of radical activism. Meanwhile, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson would form their own group – one that would speak directly to issues facing unhoused people, and the trans community in New York city.

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Jul 08, 2020
Stonewall | Why Don’t You Do Something? | 3
00:40:20

Resistance at restaurants in San Francisco and Philadelphia showcased the building tension as trans activists challenged long-standing policies of discrimination. But leading gay rights groups continued to stress a calm, non-confrontational approach to reform.

That all changed in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, when police raided the Stonewall Inn. 

For police, it was just another raid, but this time would be different: the Stonewall’s patrons would fight back. The clashes on Christopher Street would become an uprising against police oppression with long-lasting reverberations for the LGBTQ rights movement.

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Jul 01, 2020
Stonewall | Turbulence | 2
00:44:12

As the 1960s dawned, LGBTQ activists began to voice frustration with the gradual approach to civil rights advocated by groups like the Mattachine Society. If LGBTQ people wanted to make real progress, they concluded, they would need to take direct action — starting with tactics shared with the Black civil rights movement. 

Through protests and sit-ins in places like New York, Washington DC, and San Francisco, LGBTQ activists started agitating for greater rights. They would tackle employment discrimination along with the widespread issues of police harassment, abuse, and entrapment, which targeted LGBTQ people nationwide. 

But as white gay activists pushed for acceptance by a white, middle-class American majority, transgender activists and people color faced even greater challenges related to their race and gender identity. They would respond by forging their own communities and strategies to protect themselves from harassment and violence. 

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Jun 24, 2020
Stonewall | Evolutionary, Not Revolutionary | 1
00:39:05

In the summer of 1969, a police raid on the Stonewall Inn sparked a riot on the streets of Greenwich Village. The protest marked a turning point in the gay rights movement. But the famed resistance in New York capped a movement that had been building for nearly two decades in America, as LGBTQ people mobilized to fight widespread and pervasive discrimination.

In the years following World War II, members of the LGBTQ community faced broad discrimination — from strict laws that oppressed them, churches that declared their very existence sinful, and a government that demonized them. They would push back against the American Psychological Association, the FBI and finally, the courts. Slowly, LGBTQ activism would emerge from out of the closet and onto the American scene.

This series follows strands of the gay rights movement in America from 1950 until 1970. But it’s just the beginning of a story about a fight for social and political equality — a battle that’s still being fought today.

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Jun 17, 2020
Encore: The Space Race | Photo Finish | 4
00:39:45

JFK said that nothing in the 1960s was "...more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space..." than getting a man to the moon and back safely. As the Apollo 11 flight neared, the entire nation waited, enraptured. But back in the USSR, the Soviets were also making strides. Though the contest with the Soviets for technological superiority had always been a race, it was now a literal one - a U.S. manned spacecraft was about to chase down a Soviet robotic vessel. 

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Jun 10, 2020
Encore: The Space Race | Taking the Lead | 3
00:39:26

In times of crisis, Americans had always put their confidence in their country’s superiority in power, technology and leadership. America had never failed them. And in 1961, hope and faith in their country burned brighter than ever as NASA prepared to launch the first man into space. A month out from launch, that light was effectively snuffed. The Soviets beat them to it. On April 12, 1961, cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin became the first person in space and the first person to orbit Earth. The world was in awe. And America was in shock.

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Jun 03, 2020
Encore: The Space Race | Playing Catch Up | 2
00:38:02

Information sharing was normal in the global scientific community, but when it came to rockets, normal rules didn’t apply. If the details got passed along to civilian scientists, there was no telling where that intel might end up…

But for many Americans, the Eisenhower just wasn’t moving fast enough. Sputnik was still orbiting! The Soviets were winning! Eisenhower downplayed Sputnik,calling it “one small ball in the air,” but privately he was worried.

The U.S. had the ability to beat the Soviets to space. But they didn’t. And Eisenhower wanted to know why.

Warning: this episode is packed with as much explosive power as is packed in the warhead of a ballistic missile.

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May 27, 2020
Encore: The Space Race | Starting Gun | 1
00:38:36

Remember Werner von Braun? We talked a little bit about him in our Cold War series. He was in charge of the German rocket program in World War II. First used to lob missiles and bombs all over Europe, von Braun always dreamed of something better for his rockets. As the Soviet and American forces were closing in on Germany to end the war, von Braun saw only one way out: surrender to the American forces and get to the States.

Amid the wreckage of the Third Reich, the first leg of the Space Race would be a sprint to locate von Braun.

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May 20, 2020
The WWII Home Front | United We Win | 2
00:44:29

As the nation’s factories and shipyards ramped up production for the war, the demand for labor exploded. Millions of women and minorities entered the workforce for the first time, finding a path to prosperity and opportunity. 

But as Americans joined in common purpose, strife and challenges hit the homefront. 

In 1943, half a million coal miners in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania went on strike, sparking nationwide uproar and threatening to derail the war effort. Cities erupted with tensions over housing and jobs as the largest migration in history transformed the nation. And deep questions over loyalty and belonging arose, as the federal government forced more than 100,000 Japanese Americans into detention camps.

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May 13, 2020
The WWII Home Front - Arsenal of Democracy | 1
00:42:37

On December 7, 1941, hundreds of Japanese warplanes rained death and destruction down on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor—shocking the nation and drawing it into World War II. The U.S. had been ravaged by the Great Depression. Mobilizing the country for war would require unprecedented government intervention in industry, the economy, and American lives. But the crisis would also spark new opportunities, challenges and questions about what it meant to be a patriot and an American during a time of crisis.

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May 06, 2020
Rebellion in the Early Republic - How Early American Revolts Shaped Today’s Protests | 7
00:41:58

In 1799, the U.S. government imposed a new tax on houses, land, and slaves to fund an expanded military. A man named John Fries led Pennsylvania Dutch farmers in protest of the law. What became known as Fries’ Rebellion was the third major tax revolt in the nation’s short history. But President Adams quashed Fries’ Rebellion with military force—a response widely viewed as an overreaction. The protesters went on to help usher Adams out of office. 

Their actions proved that Americans could challenge their government without resorting to violence, and that popular dissent could exist within the rule of law…affirming a tradition of protest that exists now. 

On today’s episode, we hear from Pulitzer winning historian and legal scholar Edward J. Larson. Larson is a history professor and the Hugh and Hazel Darling Chair in Law at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. He is also author of the new book “Franklin & Washington: The Founding Partnership” (William Morrow, 2020).

Larson takes us into a deeper dive into how the early American rebellions were resolved, and what that era of our nation’s history can teach us about how the government handles pushback from citizens now.

Additional books by Edward J. Larson:

The Return of George Washington: Uniting the States, 1783-1789” (William Morrow, 2015)

A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800” (Free Press, 2008)


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Apr 29, 2020
Rebellion in the Early Republic - Nat Turner’s Rebellion | 6
00:38:32

In February 1831, a solar eclipse caused the skies to darken over the isolated backwater of Southampton County, Virginia. An enslaved man and self-proclaimed prophet named Nat Turner saw it as a sign from God that it was time to rise up against slavery.

In the early morning hours of August 22, 1831, Turner and a small group of fellow slaves emerged from the woods armed with axes. They marched on the farm of Turner’s owner, where they struck the first fatal blows of their revolt. Over the next 48 hours, the rebels roved from farm to farm, killing dozens and sowing panic throughout the white community.

Nat Turner’s Rebellion was the bloodiest slave revolt in American history. It sparked widespread hysteria and deadly reprisals, further propelling the nation down the path to civil war.


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Apr 22, 2020
Rebellion in the Early Republic - Gabriel’s Rebellion | 5
00:41:31

As a new century dawned on the United States, an enslaved blacksmith named Gabriel began planning a bold plot to overthrow slavery in Virginia’s capital. The uprising would change the future of slavery in the South.

In the spring and summer of 1800, the charismatic Gabriel recruited an army of enslaved artisans, freedmen, and white laborers in Richmond and the surrounding countryside. They fashioned homemade weapons out of farming tools and scrap metal. They planned to attack white merchants, storm Richmond’s treasury, and kidnap Governor James Monroe. By August, hundreds of men had joined Gabriel’s Rebellion, making it the most extensive slave plot the South had seen yet.

But when the day finally came to seize Richmond, a late summer storm threatened to doom Gabriel’s plans.


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Apr 15, 2020
Rebellion in the Early Republic - Crisis in the West | 4
00:38:27

In 1794, anti-government protests grew into an all-out rebellion, and President Washington faced his first major test of federal authority. Some 7,000 armed Westerners marched on Pittsburgh and threatened its residents. Violent resistance to the whiskey tax soon spread from western Pennsylvania to Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia.

Washington and his cabinet held tense meetings to debate a response to the so-called Whiskey Rebellion. The country’s first president was determined to act quickly and decisively, despite divisions among his close advisers. Nothing less than the sovereignty of the young nation was at stake.


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Apr 08, 2020
Rebellion in the Early Republic - The Whiskey Rebellion | 3
00:43:14

Only a few years after Shays’ Rebellion was suppressed, a new revolt broke out in western Pennsylvania. Anti-government resentment had been growing on the frontier for years. Then in 1791, the U.S. government handed down a tax on domestic spirits. It became known as the Whiskey Tax. Many western farmers and distillers, already struggling under harsh conditions, refused to pay the tax and rose up in defiance. Armed gangs ambushed tax collectors—and anyone who supported them.

As resistance spread, authorities struggled to suppress the violence. Then, in the summer of 1794, hundreds of rebels went to battle against U.S. Army troops at Bower Hill, the mountaintop mansion of a wealthy tax collector. The rebels burned the manor to the ground and a popular rebel leader was shot dead, inflaming tensions.

The federal government had an unprecedented crisis on its hands.


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Apr 01, 2020
Rebellion in the Early Republic - A Constitution Shaped by Revolt | 2
00:40:42

Tensions reached a climax in the freezing winter of 1787, as Daniel Shays and 1,500 rebel soldiers stormed the federal arsenal in Springfield, Massachusetts. The rebels hoped to seize arms and ammunition and burn Boston to the ground. What they didn’t know was that a government army awaited them, setting off a dogged chase in the winter snow that lasted weeks.

The farmers’ revolt reverberated far beyond Massachusetts. Shays’s Rebellion stunned America’s political elite, even drawing a horrified George Washington out of retirement to return to public life. The uprising helped convince the nation’s power brokers to throw out the Articles of Confederation and devise a new Constitution. They were determined to create a strong federal government, one that they hoped could withstand domestic rebellion. But their efforts sparked a bitter dispute about the role of government in the new Republic.


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Mar 25, 2020
Rebellion in the Early Republic - Farmer Uprising | 1
00:38:09

The dust had barely settled on the American Revolution when new unrest erupted in western Massachusetts. Thousands of farmers and laborers rose up in protest against unjust taxes and a state government that seemed as oppressive as the British Crown. When their demands for reform fell on deaf ears, the protesters grew more desperate. They took up muskets, swords, and clubs and formed blockades to shut down local courthouses. The growing revolt became known as Shays’s Rebellion.

Boston’s government and merchant elites were horrified by the upheaval, fearing the specter of mob rule. They saw the uprising as democracy run amok, and moved to raise an army against the rebels. The showdown would test the very legacy of the American Revolution.


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Mar 18, 2020
Encore: What We Learned from Fighting the Spanish Flu | 1
00:47:32

In light of growing concerns about the coronavirus, we’re revisiting an episode we ran last spring. 

One hundred years ago, the Spanish flu pandemic forever reshaped the way the United States responds to public health crises. At a time when people around the world were already dying on an unprecedented scale due to World War I, Spanish flu devastated American cities, killing more than 675,000 people in the U.S. alone. The virus had a profound effect on impact on medicine, politics, and the media, revealing deep flaws in the U.S. government’s ability to respond to such a disaster. But it would also lead to the creation of new public health institutions that still endure today, and it would help usher in a new era of global collaboration in the medical community.

For more information about the coronavirus, visit the following websites: 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html  

World Health Organization:

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019


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Mar 11, 2020
Tulsa Race Massacre Update: Excavating Mass Graves | 7
00:37:07

New archaeological evidence suggests mass graves holding the remains of victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre may exist on two sites in Tulsa. And now scientists plan to excavate portions of those sites to try and uncover the truth. Residents for years had asked the city to take similar steps but until now it hasn’t happened. On this episode we get an update on these developments from Hannibal B. Johnson, an attorney and historian who has written several books on the Massacre. He joins us from Tulsa to talk about what this excavation could uncover and what it means when a community reckons with the darkest part of its history.


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Mar 04, 2020
California Water Wars - Los Angeles and the Future of Water | 6
00:40:40

UCLA environmental historian Jon Christensen discusses Los Angeles, its never-quenched thirst for water, and what that means for the future.


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Feb 26, 2020
California Water Wars - Collapse | 5
00:38:30

With the failure of the Watterson brothers’ banks, the Owens Valley community was forced to abandon its fight for water rights against the city of Los Angeles. William Mulholland, the Los Angeles water department superintendent, could finally breathe a little easier. The city now had full control over its water supply for the foreseeable future. 

But he would discover that some things can’t be foreseen. Construction had finished in 1926 on the last of the nineteen dams that lined the aqueduct. Standing 200 feet tall, the St. Francis dam held back billions of gallons of water. But by spring of 1928, troubling cracks were beginning to appear in the dam’s surface. The events of March 12, 1928, would lead not only to a terrible catastrophe, but would forever change the way the citizens of Los Angeles thought about William Mulholland -- the man who brought them water.


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Feb 19, 2020
California Water Wars - We Who Are About to Die Salute You | 4
00:37:55

After years of letting their water be used by the city of Los Angeles, the farmers and ranchers of the Owens River Valley decided to fight back. What would come to be known as California’s Civil War would mark the 1920s with a series of attacks and reprisals between the valley and the city two hundred miles south. 

With Los Angeles sending agents north to buy more land and secure yet more water rights, valley residents decided to take matters into their own hands. After several attacks damaged portions of the aqueduct, causing water to stream uselessly down into the valley, the city realized it had a desperate problem on their hands.

But all was not well with the citizens of the valley, as a long-running family feud threatens to tear apart the Owens Valley community from within.


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Feb 12, 2020
California Water Wars - “There It Is—Take It” | 3
00:38:03

By 1912, the Los Angeles aqueduct project was nearing completion. But as it approached the finish line, fears were growing among the public of a vast conspiracy, fanned by socialist Job Harriman. With the formation of the Aqueduct Investigation Board, engineer William Mulholland found his methods and his purpose suddenly under a microscope. Land deals from nearly a decade ago would threaten to derail the entire project, just a year shy of its completion.

As the roaring Twenties loomed, Los Angeles would grow exponentially. But far north, in Inyo County, the ranchers whose water had been taken from them were gearing up for the first of many retaliations.


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Feb 05, 2020
California Water Wars - Building the Dream | 2
00:37:48

By 1907, the city of Los Angeles had found a solution to its water problem. Two hundred miles north in the Owens River Valley was a never-ending source of water. Los Angeles Water Department superintendent William Mulholland set about constructing one of the largest public works projects the state of California has ever seen. But first, he would have to convince the voters of Los Angeles to approve the project. And then, he would have to build it himself. 

For five years construction crews filed into the desert, building a massive aqueduct system that would ferry the water all the way to the thirsty city. Along the way, Mulholland would encounter problems with bureaucrats, bad food, and dynamite. With the project hurtling towards completion, serious doubts would be raised about graft and self-interest. Was the Los Angeles aqueduct really just about water? Or was it set to make a handful of rich men even richer?


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Jan 29, 2020
California Water Wars - A River in the Desert | 1
00:37:38

By the turn of the twentieth century, Los Angeles had grown from a dusty, crime-ridden pueblo into a thriving metropolis. The only problem was that it was growing too fast. With no consistently reliable water source and a desert climate leading to a decade-long drought, the city would have to begin looking elsewhere.

In the Owens River Valley, over two hundred miles north of the city, a vast, rushing river, fed by Sierra mountain snow, lay the solution. But how to get the water from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles? City water superintendent William Mulholland and former Los Angeles mayor Fred Eaton devised a breathtakingly simple plan: they would build an aqueduct. As Mulholland began sketching out an engineering vision for the project, Eaton secretly purchased land rights in the Owens Valley.

But Eaton’s methods left many valley residents bewildered and angry, setting up a decades-long battle for survival that would pit a metropolis against a small ranching community.


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Jan 22, 2020
Kentucky Blood Feud - The Revenge of Bad Tom Baker | 2
00:38:06

The Civil War forced the warring families of Clay County into an uneasy truce. The Garrards, Whites, Howards, and Bakers found themselves allied as they fought for the Union. But the war brought new challenges: the Northern army destroyed Clay County’s salt mines in order to keep them out of the hands of the South, and the Emancipation Proclamation brought an end to slavery, which had helped make salt mining so profitable.

The Garrards and the Whites were so rich that they were able to withstand these pressures on their businesses. But the poorer Bakers and the Howards soon found themselves fighting over scraps of land and timber. And in 1898, a business dispute led “Bad Tom” Baker and “Big Jim” Howard to assassinate members of each other’s families, starting a wave of killings and arsons so bloody they would reshape the state.


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Dec 18, 2019
Kentucky Blood Feud - The Murder of Daniel Bates | 1
00:35:20

The longest and bloodiest feud in American history erupted in the 1840s in Clay County, Kentucky — where it raged for nearly a century and ultimately claimed more than 150 lives. The Clay County War, also known as the Baker-Howard Feud, pitted four families against each other: the powerful Garrads and Whites, who assembled vast wealth mining salt, and the less influential Bakers and Howards. In time, the Garrards would align with the Bakers, and the Whites with the Howards. 

At first, the families got along, cooperating in the back-breaking work involved with extracting salt in the Appalachian region. But as the economy collapsed and new technologies led to new competition from the outside, the families would find themselves increasingly competing for survival — and a single act of violence would be enough to spark a conflict that spanned generations. 


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Dec 11, 2019
A Look Back at The Newspaper Industry | 10
00:33:00

On Dec. 4, 1881 the Los Angeles Times published its very first edition. And while the paper ran into severe financial trouble just a year after its founding, it nevertheless survived and over its 138 year lifespan has been at the forefront of some monumental stories in American history. But, the news industry today is vastly different and extremely divisive. So how did we get here? The LA Times' Steve Padilla has worked at the paper for 32 years and he joins us to look back at the roots of the journalism industry and newspapers and how we go to where we are today.


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Dec 04, 2019
The Legacy of The Triangle Fire | 5
00:40:37

In September 2019 Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren invoked the memory of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire at a campaign rally just a few blocks from the site of fire in Manhattan. It was a powerful reminder of just how deep the legacy of the disaster runs. Organized labor and workplace safety have come a long way since the fire but after years of political opposition, unions and worker rights are on the decline. In the U.S., unions represent 6.4 percent of private-sector workers and just 10.5 percent of workers overall. That’s the lowest percentage in more than a century, and down from 35 percent in the 1950s. That's according to Steven Greenhouse, author of the new book Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor. Greenhouse joins us to talk about the state of labor in America today and why after years of decline, labor is starting to gain steam.


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Nov 20, 2019
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire - In America They Don’t Let You Burn | 4
00:42:09

In the wake of the biggest workplace catastrophe in the city of New York, the survivors of the Triangle fire and the families of the victims could only watch from the sidelines as the case against the Triangle bosses went to trial. The 146 deaths resulting from the fire had been sifted through the state’s legal machine and condensed into a single woman: a 24-year-old sewing machine operator named Margaret Schwartz. 

In December 1911, the general sessions court presided over by Judge Thomas Crain heard the People of New York vs. Max Blanck and Isaac Harris. The prosecution had a strong piece of physical evidence and a compelling witness. But Harris and Blanck had a lawyer whose courtroom rhetoric might get his clients off scot-free. 

If you enjoyed American History Tellers, be sure to check out Lindsay Graham’s other shows, American Scandal and American Elections: Wicked Game


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Nov 13, 2019
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire - Sixteen Minutes | 3
00:38:26

Two years after the labor strikes that shook the city of New York, the workers of Triangle factory returned to better wages and lower hours. But when a fire broke out near closing time on a Saturday afternoon, these same workers found themselves swept up in a catastrophe. Some would escape, but many would not. 

In the weeks that followed, a city mourned and began to wrestle with questions of responsibility. Where did the blame for the tragedy lie? With the city? With the factory owners? Or with the workers themselves? 


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Nov 06, 2019
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire - Revolt of the Girls | 2
00:40:04

Inspired by the labor strikes at Triangle and other factories in Lower Manhattan, more than 30,000 garment workers took to the streets of New York in protest in late 1909. For the first time, an industry of women sought not to just halt production at one factory — they wanted to put the brakes on an entire trade. 

With over four hundred garment factories shut down, factory owners banded together with police and the courts to fight the striking workers. But as the labor movement attracted new high-society allies, internal politics began to fracture the labor movement, threatening to derail the entire cause.


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Oct 30, 2019
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire - Wildcat | 1
00:40:34

On March 25, 1911, a fire broke out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in Manhattan, claiming the lives of 146 garment workers — mostly women and girls. It was one of the deadliest workplace disasters in American history. Caused by a combination of carelessness and poor safety measures, the fire eventually set off a wave of workplace reforms that changed industry in America and sent New York party politics in a totally different direction.

But in the years before the fire, the workers of the Triangle factory were focused on a different issue — advocating for higher pay. Facing long hours and unsympathetic bosses unwilling to implement change, the women decided they had only one option left. 

It was time to go on strike.


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Oct 23, 2019
Dutch Manhattan - The Dutch Influence Today | 7
00:50:46

New York City was founded on the Dutch principles of tolerance and capitalism, both of which were new ideas at the time. But much of the city's early history was lost until the 1970s, when a renewed interest in the Dutch period led to the founding of the New Netherland Center. Here, thousands of previously untranslated records shed new light on this crucial moment in Gotham’s history. Our guest today is Greg Young, who co-hosts the Bowery Boys, a popular podcast about all things New York City history. Young visited the New Netherland Center, and he joins us to share what he found there and where Dutch influence can still be seen in New York today.


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Oct 16, 2019
Dutch Manhattan - New York | 6
00:38:17

In the years after Adrian Van der Donck won a municipal charter for New Amsterdam, and under Peter Stuyvesant's stern but capable rule, the city flourished. Even English residents of New England and Virginia sent their goods to Europe via the future New York Harbor, because the Dutch were so good at the business of shipping. Dutch features that would become part of American culture — from cookies and cole slaw to Santa Claus — became ingrained. Most importantly, the Dutch notions of tolerance, which fostered a multi-ethnic society, and free trade, became rooted in Manhattan. 

But in London, King Charles II and his brother, James, the Duke of York, were eager to build an empire. Their plan involved taking over slaving posts in West Africa, reorganizing their American colonies, and taking the Dutch colony, with its strategically located capital. And soon, they would send a squadron of warships to Manhattan.


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Oct 09, 2019
Dutch Manhattan - The One-Legged Soldier | 5
00:36:43

Peter Stuyvesant was fresh from losing a leg in battle against the Spanish when he arrived in Manhattan in 1647. He was a tough soldier who was ready to take charge of the unruly population of New Amsterdam. He soon clashed with Adrian Van der Donck, the leader of the opposition, who was secretly crafting a formal legal complaint that would compel the Dutch government to give the colony a form of representative government. When Stuyvesant discovered that Van der Donck had been spearheading an effort to overthrow his rule, he had him arrested for treason. 

But after a public faceoff revealed the Dutch government had come down on the side of colonists, Van der Donck was released. He returned to Europe and traveled to The Hague, where he argued that the Dutch government should take over the colony from the West India Company. At first, the Dutch government supported Van der Donck’s cause. It granted New Amsterdam a charter, giving the colony official status as a Dutch city, and ordered Stuyvesant's recall. But then order was abruptly rescinded. Oliver Cromwell’s English government was declaring war on the Dutch republic.


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Oct 02, 2019
Dutch Manhattan - The Sheriff Comes to Town | 4
00:38:02

Just as it was becoming a New World success story, disaster came to New Amsterdam. Willem Kieft, the Dutch leader appointed by the West India Trading Company, declared war on local tribes, sending soldiers to slaughter them in their villages. The tribes responded with waves of death and destruction that would set the European settlers back decades in their development. 

A new colonist named Adriaen Van der Donck arrived to find the place in chaos. The colonists were furious at Kieft for endangering their settlement with his attacks. Van der Donck had been trained as a lawyer, and he soon found a role organizing the colonists against Kieft. He lobbied Kieft to permit the formation of a council to give the residents a say in their government. But when it became clear Kieft had no intention of giving the council any real power, Van der Donck responded by going over Kieft’s head and appealing directly to the leaders of the West India Company for intervention. 

The response wasn’t what he expected. It would lead to the appointment of a new Dutch leader, a hardliner tasked with wrestling the wayward colonists back under control. His name was Peter Stuyvesant.


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Sep 25, 2019
Dutch Manhattan - Pirates and Prostitutes | 3
00:36:15

New Amsterdam was a desperate place. For the first decade of its existence, the Dutch city on the tip of Manhattan Island served as a haven for pirates, prostitutes and smugglers. That was because the West India Company, which ran New Amsterdam, insisted on controlling all trade — something it simply couldn't manage effectively. Finally, in 1640, the Company gave up its monopoly, and what had been a rag-tag, Wild West kind of town quickly took on the hallmarks of Dutch capitalism. 

Trading firms in Amsterdam opened branch offices on Manhattan, and business boomed. Merchants traded in everything from furs to tobacco to Caribbean sugar and salt. Soon, Manhattan became a brash, free-wheeling pioneer settlement where visitors could hear some 18 different languages — at a time when the city’s population numbered only about 500. The ingredients were in place for an American success story utterly unlike the English colonies to the north. 


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Sep 18, 2019
Dutch Manhattan - Buying Manhattan | 2
00:36:10

Twelve years after Henry Hudson's 1609 trip charting the Hudson River, the Dutch used his voyage as the basis for a new colony, which would be wedged between the English colonies in New England and Virginia. New Netherland began with tiny numbers of people from different backgrounds. They settled the entire region that Hudson had traveled, from Delaware to New York to Connecticut. But being spread out so thinly exposed them to danger. In 1626, in the area around the future Albany, New York, a small party became embroiled in a fight between two native tribes, and some settlers were killed.

In the aftermath, the colonists chose a new leader. Peter Minuit's first decision was to call all the settlers together for strength. Then he selected a location for a capital city, one that was strategically located in a world-class harbor and at the mouth of the colony's central river—a wilderness island called Manhattan. 


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Sep 11, 2019
Dutch Manhattan - Henry Hudson’s Big Mistake | 1
00:35:41

In 1609, a headstrong English sea captain named Henry Hudson set out on behalf of the Dutch East India Company to find a trade route to Asia — and promptly found himself and his crew stranded in icy waters off the coast of Norway. As supplies dwindled, Hudson announced to his frostbitten crew that the ship would change course. They set off across the Atlantic Ocean in search of an alternative route through the North American continent.

Hudson never found the Northwest Passage, but he did come across something else on that journey — a small island the native people called Manna-hatta. That settlement would eventually give rise to a new Dutch colony called New Netherland, with Manhattan Island, or New Amsterdam, as it would come to be known, as its capital. New Amsterdam would come to be defined by two key Dutch values: tolerance and capitalism. This series by Russell Shorto, based on his book The Island at the Center of the World, traces how Manhattan’s brief chapter as a Dutch colony shaped the city for centuries to come.


Sep 04, 2019
Remembering Emmett Till | 7
00:38:10

The murder of Emmett Till galvanized the nascent civil rights movement. But the full story of what happened in Money, Miss., on August 28, 1955, is significantly different than the narrative that emerged at the time. A new app developed by scholars at Florida State University now seeks to give a fuller picture of Till’s lynching by taking users on a GPS guided tour around the Mississippi Delta and the important sites related to the case. Davis Houck, a professor of rhetorical studies at FSU, developed the app, and he joins us to talk about educating people on the legacy of Till’s killing and why it's more significant than ever.


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Aug 28, 2019
The Bastard Brigade - Showdown in the Alps | 6
00:40:24

The Alsos mission had a hard-charging leader in Boris Pash and an eccentric band of recruits. But if the so-called Bastard Brigade was going to track down the Nazi atomic bomb, they would also need scientific expertise. For that, they turned to the Dutch-American physicist Samuel Goudsmit. 

Goudsmit wasn’t the brigade’s first choice—far from it. He was considered weak and timid, and even Goudsmit himself worried he lacked the courage for the mission. But the scientist had been friends with Werner Heisenberg as a young man in Europe, and he felt personally betrayed by Heisenberg’s work for the Nazis. And as a Jew who’d lost his parents to the concentration camps, Goudsmit was determined to fight back against Hitler.

But Goudsmit would eventually prove himself, and his brilliant detective work would lead the mission to a cave in Germany hewn into the side of a cliff — Heisenberg’s secret lair and the heart of the Nazi bomb project. 


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Aug 21, 2019
The Bastard Brigade - The Most Wanted Men | 5
00:40:28

As the Nazis inched closer to acquiring a nuclear weapon, panic grew among the Allied forces. The Alsos Mission — otherwise known as the Bastard Brigade — was put in charge of gathering intelligence on Hitler’s bomb project, seizing stores of Nazi uranium, and hunting down members of the Uranium Club. The first atomic spy outfit in history was underway. 

Their mission was led by the American-born son of a Russian Orthodox bishop, Colonel Boris Pash — a high school teacher, irreverent prankster, and veteran of two wars by his 18th birthday. Pash’s team would pursue leads across Europe, taking them on a dangerous journey from an Antwerp zoo to a French laboratory beset by snipers.


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Aug 14, 2019
The Bastard Brigade - The Strangest Man | 4
00:39:46

By mid-1944, the Allies’ fight to track down and stop the Nazi atomic program had met with failure and disappointment. And so the Manhattan Project took a new tack by recruiting and developing atomic spies — including a backup catcher for the Boston Red Sox named Moe Berg. 

Although little known today, Berg was one of the most famous athletes of his day, and a certified genius. He could charm sports writers and fans alike with his tales of palling around with Babe Ruth and other celebrities, but he also held degrees from Princeton, Columbia, and the Sorbonne and spoke a dozen languages. When World War II broke out, Berg volunteered to work on behalf of the Office of Strategic Services as a spy. 

Over time, however, Berg’s focus would shift from espionage toward assassination. Soon, he would travel abroad to target the most feared scientist in the world and the sharpest mind in the Nazi Uranium Club: German physicist Werner Heisenberg. 


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Aug 07, 2019
The Bastard Brigade - The Kennedy Curse | 3
00:34:57

In early 1944, the Allies developed a desperate plan to destroy several massive bunkers in Nazi-controlled France—bunkers that reportedly housed atomic missiles. The plan called for filling up airplanes with napalm, flying them over to France via remote control, and ramming them into the bunkers, blowing them sky-high. But the military still needed pilots to get the napalm-filled planes off the ground and pointed in the right direction.

It was dangerous in the extreme. But one of the first volunteers for the mission was none other than Joe Kennedy, the daring older brother of future president John F. Kennedy. John had recently become a war hero, and a ragingly jealous Joe was willing to risk everything to destroy Hitler’s bunkers—and, more importantly, turn the spotlight back on himself.


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Jul 31, 2019
The Bastard Brigade - The Juice | 2
00:39:34

The discovery of uranium fission in Nazi Germany in 1938 terrified Allied nuclear scientists—especially since the Nazi atomic bomb project, the dreaded Uranium Club, had a two-year head start on the Manhattan Project.

So the Allies decided to strike back. They couldn’t prevent Germany from acquiring uranium, but they could disrupt access to another key ingredient in atomic research—heavy water. Only one company in the world produced heavy water at the time, an isolated plant in Norway, so the Allies decided to send in teams of elite commandos on a top-secret mission to destroy it.

These missions certainly didn’t go perfectly—some were in fact disasters. But to prevent Hitler from getting an atomic bomb, no price was too high to pay.


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Jul 24, 2019
The Bastard Brigade - The Accidental A-Bomb | 1
00:36:36

The Second World War ended with two black mushroom clouds rising over the scorched remains of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But most people don’t realize how easily the war could have ended not with an American atomic bomb but a German one, obliterating not a Japanese city but Paris, London, or even New York. As the war began, all the pieces were in place for the Germans to develop an atomic weapon. They had scientific visionaries like Werner Heisenberg, a manufacturing base committed to total war—and a big head start. The Allies were willing to go to desperate lengths to stop Adolph Hitler from getting his hands on an atomic bomb. They assembled a team of men and women to spy on, sabotage, and even assassinate members of the Nazi bomb project. They would become known as The Bastard Brigade.

But in the years leading up to the war, the scientific community couldn’t yet anticipate that artificial radioactivity was possible, let alone that it could lead to a weapon on the scale of an atomic bomb. That initial discovery would fall to a husband and wife team in Paris with a famous surname, a string of failures behind them, and a lot to prove: Frédéric and Irène Joliot-Curie. 


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Jul 17, 2019
The Statue of Liberty | 6
00:41:54

The Statue of Liberty is one of America’s most iconic monuments to freedom. As we head into the Fourth of July holiday, we’ll look back on the amazing effort it took to get Lady Liberty built.

Beckett Graham is co-host of The History Chicks podcast, a show that explores the legacies of women throughout history. Beckett joins us to talk about her approach to telling women’s stories and we’ll also play a portion of The History Chicks podcast episode on how the Statue of Liberty came to be. It’s a story that includes New York’s first ticker tape parade, some challenging construction issues and suffragists on a boat protesting the statue’s dedication.


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Jul 03, 2019
Tulsa Race Massacre - Legacy and Lessons | 5
00:35:44

Nearly a century after a white mob leveled the affluent Tulsa district known as Black Wall Street, how is Greenwood faring? 

Mechelle Brown is the program coordinator for the Greenwood Cultural Center, which seeks to educate people about the rich history of the Greenwood District. She joins us to discuss why a race conflict in Tulsa was inevitable, the city’s ongoing struggle to fully acknowledge the history of the massacre, and what has — and still hasn’t — been done. 


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Jun 26, 2019
Tulsa Race Massacre - Rebirth | 4
00:49:24

On June 2, 1921, thousands of black Tulsans interned at the Tulsa Fairgrounds woke under armed guard. Many had no idea where their loved ones were or if they were still alive; they didn’t know whether their homes were still standing or if they’d been ransacked by the white mob. As Greenwood residents worked to restart lives that had been violently interrupted, sympathy for the survivors exploded around the country. In Tulsa, some white business leaders vowed to help them rebuild. But city officials and greedy real estate speculators had other ideas—ideas that would push Greenwood residents off their valuable land forever.

But those white elites would fail to account for the ambition, leadership and tight bonds of community that Greenwood’s people had built over the years. What followed was one of the most astonishing displays of African American resilience in the 20th century. Against all odds, Black Wall Street would rise from the ashes.

If you’d like to learn more about the Tulsa Race Massacre, we recommend a few great books we drew on for this series:

Black Wall Street: From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District by Hannibal Johnson

Reconstructing the Dreamland: The Tulsa Riot of 1921 by Alfred Brophy

Riot and Remembrance by James S. Hirsch


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Jun 19, 2019
Tulsa Race Massacre - The Invasion | 3
00:41:15

By midnight on Tuesday, May 31, 1921, some Greenwood residents assumed the riot was calming down. Many families, far away from the action at the courthouse, hadn’t even heard about the violence, and went to bed as usual. But as much of the city slumbered, the white mob was transforming into something even more deadly: a highly organized, strategic force led by volunteer soldiers.

That force held its fire until daybreak on Wednesday, June 1, when it sprang into action. All over Greenwood, men, women and children found themselves under siege, their homes, businesses and churches under attack from land and sky. Greenwood’s proud residents would defend themselves until they could defend themselves no more — calling the very survival of their fabled community into question.


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Jun 12, 2019
Tulsa Race Massacre - The Powder Keg | 2
00:40:15

As Dick Rowland sat in a jail cell at the Tulsa courthouse on Tuesday, the news of his arrest and rumors about his alleged rape of Sarah Page flew through town. Egged on by an inflammatory op-ed in the Tulsa Tribune, a white mob bent on a lynching began assembling outside the courthouse. By that evening, the crowd of hundreds had swelled to thousands. Meanwhile in the office of the Tulsa Star newspaper, Greenwood’s most prominent citizens debated the proper course of action. Some young veterans of the recent world war were determined to defend Rowland, with their lives if necessary, while older, cooler heads urged caution and restraint.

Both sides would gather at the courthouse Tuesday night, armed with their fists, guns and moonshine. Anything — or anyone — could set them off.


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Jun 05, 2019
Tulsa Race Massacre - The Promised Land | 1
00:49:04

Between 1838 and 1890, thousands of African Americans moved to Oklahoma, brought there as Cherokee slaves or drawn there by the promise of free land. Black pioneers established towns where African Americans could govern themselves and thrive in community together, and in time, Oklahoma became known as “The Promised Land” of freedom, dignity, and economic self-sufficiency. Out of this movement, the wealthiest African American community in the nation was born. By 1921, the Tulsa neighborhood of Greenwood had become such a hotspot of entrepreneurship that it became famous as “Negro Wall Street.”

But the Greenwood community lived uneasily in the racist, corrupt, lawless oil boomtown of Tulsa. On a hot May day in 1921, a young shoeshine boy would step into an elevator with a teenage white girl and accidentally spark the worst incident of racial violence in America -- a massacre that would be kept secret for decades.


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May 29, 2019
Sponsored | American Epidemics - Dark Days In Dallas | 2
00:58:48

This episode is brought to you by Wondery in partnership with National Geographic in anticipation of their new series, The Hot Zone. In 2014, Ebola is tearing through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, but the deadly disease hasn’t yet made landfall in the United States. Then Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian visiting his fiancee and son in Dallas, stumbles into a local hospital with a fever. His eventual diagnosis — Ebola — sets off a nationwide panic that a full-scale outbreak might be looming. As local healthcare workers and epidemiologists put their lives on the line confronting a crisis they were never trained for, government officials struggle to mount an effective response.

May 24, 2019
Sponsored | American Epidemics - The Great Pandemic | 1
00:50:00

This episode is brought to you by Wondery in partnership with National Geographic in anticipation of their new series, The Hot Zone. The three-night limited series is inspired by true events surrounding the origins of the Ebola virus and its arrival on US soil in 1989.

One hundred years ago, the Spanish flu pandemic brought American society to the breaking point and forever reshaped the way the United States responds to public health crises. At a time when people around the world were already dying on an unprecedented scale due to World War I, Spanish flu devastated American cities, killing more than 675,000 people in the U.S. alone. As the death toll mounted, Philadelphia ran out of coffins, New York City officials outlawed uncovered sneezing and coughing, and scientists raced to find a cure. The virus would have a profound effect on impact on medicine, politics, and the media. It would reveal deep flaws in the U.S. government’s ability to respond to such a disaster. And it would help usher in a new era of global collaboration in the medical community.

May 23, 2019
J. Edgar Hoover's FBI - Humanizing History with David McCullough | 7
00:35:36

Pulitzer Prize winner. National Book Award winner. Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. Today David McCullough, one of America’s greatest living historians, joins us to discuss his new book, The Pioneers, about the heroic men and women who shaped the Northwest Territories, in present-day Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois. Without their bravery, foresight, and commitment to their ideals, the United States we know today might look very different. The author of Truman and John Adams shares how to make historical figures come alive on the page, why history matters, and what he sees as history’s two greatest lessons.


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May 22, 2019
J. Edgar Hoover's FBI - Citizens Resistance | 6
00:40:51

On March 8, 1971, seven ordinary Americans broke into a poorly guarded FBI regional office in Media, Pennsylvania. They called themselves the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI, and they had one purpose: to gather evidence that would prove the agency was engaged in a covert and illegal spying campaign against American citizens. For more than 30 years, Director J. Edgar Hoover had maintained an iron grip on the media, and with it, public perception of the Bureau. But as packages of stolen documents began appearing in newsroom mailboxes, followed soon after by front page stories, a very different narrative about the FBI’s activities began to emerge. It would forever shift the balance of public opinion against the Bureau, and signal the beginning of Hoover’s downfall.


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May 15, 2019
J. Edgar Hoover's FBI - Black Bag Job | 5
00:40:02

Between 1956 and 1971, the FBI carried out more than 2,000 top secret spying operations aimed at American citizens. Their target? The so-called Fifth Column, a network of undercover Soviet agents allegedly working to destroy the American government from within. The agency even had an internal code name for these operations: COINTELPRO. In the name of this mission, Hoover directed agents to infiltrate, penetrate, disorganize and disrupt their targets. But the FBI’s actions weren’t just aimed at taking down suspected Communists. They also targeted activists working across a broad spectrum of progressive causes, including civil rights, feminism, gay rights, abortion rights, and drug policy reforms.

But no target would draw more of the FBI’s scrutiny — or malice — than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


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May 08, 2019
J. Edgar Hoover's FBI - Controlling the Message | 4
00:41:42

The rise of fascism and World War II shifted the FBI’s focus in the 1940s from fighting midwestern outlaws to catching Communists. To Hoover and the FBI, nearly anyone on the political left was suspect, potentially part of a Soviet conspiracy to overthrow Western democracies. In reality, the American left was fragmented. But again and again, Hoover would use the threat of Communism to go after the Bureau’s enemies. He would resort to exhaustive surveillance, including wiretaps, bugging and prying into personal lives to keep in check outspoken journalists and any other critics who threatened Hoover’s ironclad control of the media. 


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May 01, 2019
J. Edgar Hoover's FBI - The Bobby Sox Bandit Queen | 3
00:35:11

During the mid-1930s, the FBI’s public relations department had effectively changed the image of its agents from accountants into action heroes; and its director, from a bureaucrat into an American icon. They pushed stories about heroic G-men facing off against violent foes, gunning them down in self-defense. And the press ate it up. But in April 1939, an FBI agent shot and killed a small town bank robber — in the back. The real story didn’t fit the FBI’s new heroic narrative. So Hoover changed it. Using his public relations machine, Hoover would twist the average story of a small-time midwestern criminal into one final, heroic, spellbinding triumph of the FBI.


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Apr 24, 2019
J. Edgar Hoover's FBI - Giant Among G-Men | 2
00:34:10

J. Edgar Hoover became director of the FBI when he was just 29 years old. His orders? Clean up the Bureau. At first, he proved to be a brilliant and innovative leader, setting new standards for education, physical fitness, and training of federal agents.

But there was a dark side to his success. Hoover was also obsessed with tracking anyone he considered to be disloyal to the U.S. government. By the early 1930s, the Bureau was secretly compiling dossiers on tens of thousands of American citizens, in defiance of government orders. And Hoover understood that the best cover for his actions lay in bolstering the Bureau’s reputation as a beloved and virtuous American institution. All he needed was the help of an expert in an emerging but promising field: public relations.


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Apr 17, 2019
J. Edgar Hoover's FBI - The Department of Easy Virtues | 1
00:33:06

By the turn of the century, radical anarchists were becoming a growing -- and volatile -- political movement. As shifting workplace conditions exploited and endangered American workers, anarchists increasingly turned to violence to spur everyday citizens to upend the capitalist system. The growth of these politically motivated shootings and bombings stoked fear among American citizens — fear of immigrants, outsiders, and anyone else whose ideas might be considered a threat. Soon President Woodrow Wilson was calling on his attorney general A. Mitchell Palmer to investigate, arrest and imprison any noncitizen suspected of spouting “disloyal” or “radical” ideologies.

The so-called Palmer Raids would move the little-known, poorly funded and notoriously corrupt Bureau of Investigation into the national spotlight. And it would eventually launch the career of an ambitious young civil servant named Edgar Hoover.


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Apr 10, 2019
America's Anthem | 7
00:43:47

“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord.” That’s the opening line of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” written by Julie Ward Howe in 1861. Over the years, it’s become something of an unofficial national anthem for all manner of political causes in the United States. Historian Richard Gamble joins us to talk about the song, its meaning, and its history in everything from The Civil War to The Civil Rights Movement.

Read more: A Fiery Gospel: The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the Road to Righteous War.


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Apr 03, 2019
The Great Depression - Justice and Infamy | 6
00:38:51

As legal challenges to his New Deal programs mounted, President Roosevelt and his attorney general devised dramatic reforms to the Supreme Court’s structure. The proposed changes would open new rifts between the president and conservative members of his own party.

Other greater challenges loomed. A recession was threatening to unwind four years of economic recovery. The Senate launched a politicized investigation into purported un-American activities in federal work programs.

And on the other side of the world, a global crisis was building as war erupted in Asia and Europe. As the country re-armed and factories retooled to supply soon-to-be allies, the nationally finally pulled itself from the depths of Depression.


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Mar 27, 2019
The Great Depression - Progress and Pushback | 5
00:39:46

After two of President Roosevelt’s closest advisors competed to create a new federal jobs program, the White House launched one of Roosevelt's keystone initiatives: the Works Progress Administration. Under this program, millions of Americans earned government salaries at a wide range of blue- and white-collar jobs — everything from building post offices and painting murals to delivering library books by horseback to rural communities.

However, the federal government’s increased reach worried FDR’s opponents, especially a wildly popular Catholic radio preacher. Father Charles Coughlin once helped FDR get elected, but as the president’s power increased, Coughlin turned up the volume on hateful and anti-Semitic undertones in his attacks.


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Mar 20, 2019
The Great Depression - Dust | 4
00:41:03

The Great Depression wasn’t the only crisis facing the country when Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933. Following a decade-long drought that had shriveled crops, massive dust storms were pummeling huge swaths of the Midwest, the Great Plains, and the Northwest. Years of poor harvest practices had worsened the crisis, pushing farmers already strained by the financial hit of the Great Depression off their land. Only when a lifelong soil scientist made a dramatic testimony before Congress did the government finally begin to develop a solution.

Many of those unmoored by environmental calamity searched for opportunity elsewhere — particularly in California. But when a controversial Los Angeles police chief sent armed officers to block access to the Golden State, he would launch a constitutional crisis and a showdown with a rural sheriff.


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Mar 13, 2019
The Great Depression - A New Deal | 3
00:42:25

With the country was still hobbled by the Depression, New York Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt promised a “New Deal” for the American people. That vow handed Roosevelt a contested Democratic nomination and helped him crush Hoover in the general election. Roosevelt began his presidency with a flurry of policy proposals and legislative efforts focused around three priorities: relief, recovery, and reform. These new efforts saw millions of young men put back to work preserving natural areas as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps and undertaking a massive rural electrification project in the Tennessee River Valley. And the country’s first female cabinet member led the creation of Social Security, one of the crowning achievements of Roosevelt’s administration.

Meanwhile, a reckoning was in order for Wall Street. Years after the stock market crash, a raucous senate investigation would unveil egregious abuses by financiers.


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Mar 06, 2019
The Great Depression - Brother, Can You Spare a Dime | 2
00:39:00

Factories have shut down, banks have failed, and millions are out of work. As the Depression worsens, public opinion sours toward President Hoover.

Hoover’s allies attempt to counter criticism of the President by galvanizing anti-foreigner attitudes. They devise a scheme to frighten immigrants from Mexico and other countries with the specter of mass immigration raids in the hopes they’ll leave the country on their own, as hundreds of thousands do.

Meanwhile, an unemployed cannery worker from Portland, Oregon leads tens of thousands of World War I veterans on a march to Washington, D.C., to demand payment of wartime bonuses. A deadly showdown looms as this “Bonus Army” wears out its welcome in the capital.


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Feb 27, 2019
The Great Depression - The Crash | 1
00:37:31

The Roaring Twenties came to a screeching halt on October 29, 1929, with the collapse of the U.S. stock market. A year earlier, president Herbert Hoover had coasted to victory by promising the American people “a chicken for every pot” and “a car in every backyard.” Lured by the promise of skyrocketing markets, many first-time investors got caught up in margin trading, borrowing money to make bigger stock purchases than they could actually afford. It was a foolproof way to make money, so long as stock prices kept rising.

But then, on the morning of Tuesday, October 29, more than sixteen million shares changed hands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. By the market’s close, investors had lost tens of billions of dollars — and kicked off a decade that would reshape American institutions, even as labor unrest, racial tensions, and the dark shadow of nativism pushed back from all sides.


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Feb 20, 2019
Does History Repeat Itself? | 4
00:38:46

"Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it." On today’s show, we’ll consider what lessons we can draw from history, and what lessons we can’t. David Greenberg, a professor of history and media studies at Rutgers University, joins us to discuss how to connect the events of the past to the events of today. We’ll also talk about his latest book “Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency,” which explores the history of political messaging inside the White House. Plus, Jesse James and this day in history.


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Feb 13, 2019
The 1968 Chicago Protests - I Regret Nothing | 3
00:42:43

A special series with Legal Wars. The whole world was watching, and that’s exactly what the defendants wanted. As the end of 1969 approached, the Chicago 8 had become the Chicago 7. Bobby Seale, a Black Panther, had been removed from the trial in a brutal spectacle by Judge Julius Hoffman. The remaining defendants would respond by turning the courtroom upside down, much to the delight of the national media. Counterculture celebrities Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer would take the stand. And in the end, it was the establishment that would be put on trial.

Check out Legal Wars for more stories behind America’s most famous courtroom battles.


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Feb 06, 2019
The 1968 Chicago Protests - The Trial of the Chicago 8 | 2
00:44:44

A special series with Legal Wars. In 1969, the war in the streets became a war in the courtroom. The trial of the Chicago 8 pitted the federal government against eight prominent anti-war activists. The charges: Conspiracy to incite a riot. But the case was about more than just who threw the first punch at the DNC protests the year before. It was a battle for the soul of American culture, and both sides planned to win...by any means necessary.

Check out Legal Wars for more stories behind America’s most famous courtroom battles.


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Jan 30, 2019
The 1968 Chicago Protests - The Battle of Michigan Avenue | 1
01:01:18

A special series with our sibling show Legal Wars. The 1968 Democratic National Convention attracted demonstrators from all over the country. Thousands of students, Yippies, Peaceniks, and other protestors converged in Chicago to push for an end to the Vietnam War. But the city’s police had other plans and the would-be peaceful protests erupted into violence. News programs broadcast the clashes live to a nation of stunned viewers at home. Investigators called it a “police riot,” but five months later, the newly elected President Nixon found someone else to blame.

Check out Legal Wars for more stories behind America’s most famous courtroom battles.


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Jan 23, 2019
1865 versus 2018 and Why History Matters | 7
00:39:01

We live in historic times, but how do they compare to that other tumultuous era of American history — 1865 and the years following President Lincoln’s death and the end of The Civil War? Steven Walters, writer of Lindsay Graham’s new scripted podcast “1865,” joins to discuss the thrilling story of how our country put itself back together again and brought Lincoln’s killers to justice. Plus, a preview of what’s to come on “American History Tellers” in 2019.

You can listen to new weekly episodes of “1865” exclusively on Stitcher Premium. For a free month of Stitcher Premium, go to stitcherpremium.com/1865 and use promo code ‘1865’.


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Jan 02, 2019
Political Parties - The Reagan Revolution | 6
00:49:13

The year 1968 marked a watershed in American politics. Anti-war protests were roiling the country. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead in Memphis. Democratic President Lyndon Johnson’s approval rating was plummeting. The assassination of Democratic presidential hopeful Robert Kennedy would throw the party into disarray, toppling the New Deal coalition built by Franklin Delano Roosevelt two generations earlier and leading to a conservative surge.

The political sea change would drive Republican nominee Richard Nixon to the White House in 1968. And it would eventually elect a former actor and California governor who would change the face of American politics in ways that are still being felt to this day. His name was Ronald Reagan.


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Dec 26, 2018
Political Parties - The New Deal Coalition | 5
00:45:09

The 1929 stock market crash saw 14 billion dollars vanish in a matter of hours — and with it, the Republican party’s decades-long grip on American politics. As Americans lost their livelihoods, they turned to President Herbert Hoover for relief. But the self-made man who had so successfully reversed his own fortunes seemed unable to do the same for his country. With discontent growing, Hoover turned on World War veterans demanding early bonus payouts to support their families. It would prove the last straw for many Americans.

The landslide election of 1932 would mark a profound realignment in U.S. politics, bringing urban centers under Democratic control for the first time in the party’s history. And it would propel into the White House Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose sweeping New Deal would permanently transform the American political landscape.


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Dec 19, 2018
Political Parties - The Golden Age of the GOP | 4
00:48:13

As the Civil War came to a close, the government set its sights once again on the future of the United States. Working closely with a Republican President, the Republican Congress expected a swift and peaceful road to Reconstruction. But then, a mere four weeks into his second term, Lincoln was assassinated, leaving the country in the hands of Andrew Johnson, a Southern Democrat who had personally owned slaves just three years before.

While Johnson’s unwavering commitment to states rights cultivated a fraught relationship with his Congress, the tumult would ultimately be short-lived. After just four years of a Democratic president, America’s Grand Old Party would ascend to power—and hold it—for over 70 years.


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Dec 12, 2018
Political Parties - The Turbulent 1850s | 3
00:43:18

The United States won the The Mexican–American War in the 1840s, and with it vast new stretches of western land. But in the 1850s, the question of what to do with this land – and whether to allow slavery in the new territories or not – became a redning issue for politicians of all stripes.

While the Whig Party collapsed over the issue, Democrats split into Northern and Southern factions, and a new Republican Party tried to bind the Union with an appeal to old Jeffersonian values. But in the houses of Congress and across the nation, negotiations fail, compromise is abandoned; and the issue of slavery will overshadow all else, leading to Civil War.


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Dec 05, 2018
Political Parties - Jacksonian Democracy | 2
00:46:54

Andrew Jackson lost the 1824 presidential election to John Quincy Adams through what some called a “corrupt bargain” in the House of Representatives. The maneuver was masterminded by hot-headed but politically savvy Henry Clay, who with Adams, announced their intent for far-reaching new federal programs. Fierce opposition to these policies united pro-Jackson supporters who formed a new party, the Democrats, to rally around their hero and elect him to president in 1828.

But while Adams was defeated, Henry Clay had no intention of leaving the fight. He helped lead a new party which gathered together anti-Jackson, fiscal conservatives, and pro-states rights factions. The rise of Clay’s new Whig party seemed unstoppable–they captured both houses of Congress and the presidency–until, on April 4, 1841, president William Henry Harrison died in office and gave John Tyler the power of the veto.


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Nov 28, 2018
Political Parties - A Tale of Two Parties | 1
00:45:25

In the earliest days of the United States, there was no such thing as an organized political party. George Washington, elected twice to the presidency unanimously in the Electoral College, warned the new nation against political factions, writing that organized parties would become, “potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men subvert the power of the people.”

But immediately after Washington vacated the Presidency, factions did spring up and bitter personal rivalries began to shape the nation. The two first political parties–the Federalists and the Republicans–had very different views of what America should become, and were led by very different men: Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.


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Nov 21, 2018
History of the Lincoln Motor Company
00:24:26

Named after one of the greatest U.S. presidents, the Lincoln Motor Company has become as ingrained in American culture as the Statue of Liberty. Founded by Henry Leland to produce plane engines during World War I, Lincoln became a key driver of the early automobile industry in the United States and a pioneer of the luxury car market. But when Leland’s vision proved too ambitious for the nascent American car market, Lincoln was purchased by the Ford Motor Company.

The Ford acquisition would prove to be a game-changer for Lincoln. It provided the young company with a jolt of capital, marketing know-how, and a secret weapon: Henry Ford’s son, Edsel Ford, who possessed an uncanny sense of style and what customers wanted. He would lead the Lincoln to build an entirely new class of automobile: something “strictly continental.” Brought to you by the 2019 Lincoln MKC.

Nov 20, 2018
Civil Rights - Interview with Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely | 7
00:39:14

We conclude our series on the American Civil Right Movement with an interview with a woman who was there, on the front lines of the fight.

Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely is longtime civil rights activist and artist. She was a Freedom Rider, boarding busses to travel the south in a fight for desegregation, and member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, participating in sit-ins, marches, and voter registration campaigns. She marched on Washington, was arrested three times, was visited in jail by Martin Luther King Jr., and leads a life defined by her heritage, commitment to nonviolent activism, and the hope for continued change.

You can read Peggy's poem here.


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Nov 14, 2018
Civil Rights - The Unfinished Journey | 6
00:43:43

Seeking to build upon the gains of the early 1960s, Civil Rights activists pushed forward on a series of ambitious efforts. Voting rights activists returned to Alabama and again faced violent reprisal—this time televised for the country to witness. A shocked nation watched the violence in Selma in horror; Congress took action, passing the Voting Rights Act.

Off of this success, Martin Luther King Jr. began building a coalition of activist groups to turn the nation’s attention to the fight against poverty. Gathering support for a massive march on Washington, Dr. King visited Memphis, hopeful and in high spirits. He did not leave alive.

“America does move forward and the bell of freedom rings out a little louder. We have come some of the way, not near all of it. There is much yet to do.” President Lyndon B. Johnson


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Nov 07, 2018
Civil Rights - On The March | 5
00:46:59

As the Civil Rights movement entered the landmark years of 1963 and 1964, activists had faced many challenges - but had also won many victories. Now, they sought to launch new campaigns in Alabama and Mississippi and mass demonstrations in Washington D.C. and New York City. In the span of sixteen remarkable months, the movement and the nation itself would be transformed, walking the razor’s edge between triumph and tragedy.


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Oct 31, 2018
Civil Rights - Prairie Fire | 4
00:38:49

As the Civil Rights movement entered the Sixties, a new generation of activists took the fore. Frustrated by the pace of progress but emboldened by strides made in the previous decade, students embraced “nonviolent direct action,” protest techniques that were provocative but peaceful. Soon, a wave of sit-ins hit lunch counters across the South. The response was caustic, often violent; but the protesters’ persistence led to negotiations with business owners and civil authorities that led to successful desegregation.

The next wave of direct action - the Freedom Rides - met much worse and more violent resistance. Protesters were beaten, busses burned, and hope was nearly lost. Then, when activists moved into the rural South to organize the black vote, white supremacists’ ire turned murderous.


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Oct 24, 2018
Civil Rights - Jim Crow Fights Back | 3
00:39:11

After the Brown V. Board of Education ruling, civil rights activists had legal standing to desegregate schools. But doing so proved dangerous. The first black students to step into newly integrated schools faced extreme hostility from whites who felt Jim Crow society was under attack.

The segregationists defied federal court orders. When National Guard troops sent by President Eisenhower forced the issue, white supremacists changed tactics, patiently and cruely wielding political and economic influence against activists. And when even those measures proved not enough to stop integration, some communities abandoned public education altogether, for whites and blacks. Closing all schools, they felt, was better than integrating them.


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Oct 17, 2018
Civil Rights - Strides Towards Freedom | 2
00:36:24

In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation was legal, on a “separate but equal” basis. But for more than five decades, life for black and white Americans was seldom equal, but always separate.

To fight segregation, the NAACP and others exposed the dismal and debasing conditions in black schools. They won a monumental victory in Brown v. Board of Education—but then a young boy from Chicago named Emmett Till was dredged from the swamps of Mississippi.

Till’s death galvanized the movement. Listening to an activist speak about Till’s murder, one woman would rise to become the face of the fight against segregation. On a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat.


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Oct 10, 2018
Civil Rights - New World A’Comin | 1
00:38:36

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, freeing the slaves in much of the South. But the road to freedom—true freedom—would take generations longer for most black Americans.

In this new six-part series, we investigate their struggle, beginning in the heady post-war years of the Forties. Segregation was endemic; it was the law of the South, and the custom of the North and West. No black American escaped its demeaning and often violent grip. But in discovering the power of collective protest, civil rights activists began to make demands for basic equality in restaurants, the workplace and in schools. And as they racked up victories, excitement and determination built that this was a movement with momentum. Could they really do this? Could they make a change and finally—finally—fight off Jim Crow?


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Oct 03, 2018
National Parks - Interview with Parks Superintendent Greg Dudgeon | 7
00:39:05

In 1980, Jimmy Carter signed into law the The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, or ANILCA. That act remains controversial even today, as it set aside 43,585,000 acres of new national parklands in Alaska, including the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve and the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. Superintendent Greg Dudgeon oversees both and continues to balance the mandate of the Parks’ mission with the needs of Alaskan residents.

We’ll talk to Greg about his affection for the land, how Alaska captivated him early on, and the struggles of managing an area the size of Belgium, all entirely above the Arctic Circle.


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Sep 26, 2018
National Parks - Fire and Ice | 6
00:43:17

Alaska: big, open, frozen and wild. In 1867, the acquisition of Alaska from the Russian Empire was widely derided as “folly.” Early explorers like John Muir saw its potential though, and clamored for its preservation in the face of increasing development and calls for statehood. But when oil is discovered, the real fight begins. Caught between angry Alaskan individualists and an ambitious federal government, the National Park Service struggles to do what’s right for the land and the people who live and depend on it.


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Sep 19, 2018
National Parks - Playgrounds of the People | 5
00:38:08

In 1914, America’s National Parks had a problem: no one was using them. And those few that were faced unmaintained roads, trails strewn with garbage, and a lack of amenities that made it hard for the average American to enjoy themselves. One man had enough, and went to Washington on a mission: establish a new National Parks Service, and transform these neglected, magic spaces into clean, approachable, fun vacation destinations.

But in taking the reins, mining tycoon and marketing genius Stephen Mather would face many challenges: wolves, bears, fires, and his own internal torment.


If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, here are some additional resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

National Alliance on Mental Illness: 1-800-950-6264

Crisis Text Line: Within the US, text HOME to 741741

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: 1-800-826-3632


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Sep 12, 2018
National Parks - The Great Disaster | 4
00:41:09

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, April 18, 1906, the city of San Francisco was torn apart by a huge earthquake–but it was the subsequent fires that did the most damage. As the city sought to rebuild, it also sought a more secure water supply, to break the stranglehold of a water company monopoly and insure that if fire were to strike the city again, abundant water was available to fight it.

But a new reservoir would require the flooding of a treasured portion of Yosemite, the Hetch Hetchy Valley, one of John Muir’s favorite locations. He and his new Sierra Club fiercely opposed the plan. But politicians in DC and San Francisco loved it. Played out across the nation, a conflict between preservationists like Muir and conservationists like Theodore Roosevelt would ultimately decide the fate of Hetch Hetchy.


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Sep 05, 2018
National Parks - Rough Rider | 3
00:38:10

Put out to pasture, thinking his political career over, Theodore Roosevelt was atop a mountain when he heard the news: an assassin’s bullet would likely take President McKinley’s life, and make Roosevelt president.

Upon his inauguration shortly after, Teddy brought his lifelong love of the natural world into the White House with him. He found his executive pen a powerful tool, setting aside vast swaths of land as preserves and monuments. And later, as he sought his first term as an elected president, he embarked on the most comprehensive tour of America’s natural wonders any president had ever made: he was struck speechless at the Grand Canyon, met naturalist John Burroughs in Yellowstone, and took “the most important camping trip in history” with John Muir in Yosemite.


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Aug 29, 2018
National Parks - Calling In The Cavalry | 2
00:38:33

Yellowstone was our nation’s first national park. Its strange, wondrous landscapes were perfect for exploration - and exploitation. Upon Yellowstone’s discovery by white Americans, two races began: one to build a railroad to the park to capture its commercial potential, another to protect the land from desecration. One will fail, bringing down with it the nation’s economy. The other will require the US Army to succeed, but leave thousands of animals slaughtered and Native American tribes displaced.


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Aug 22, 2018
National Parks - The Business of Nature | 1
00:40:56

America's greatest National Parks are truly one of our country's greatest treasures. But many beautiful landmarks have ugly histories. Over the next few episodes, we’ll learn how good intentions sometimes lead to tragic and violent ends, and how in some instances, dirty business dealings would lead to the preservation of many of our countries greatest natural wonders.


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Aug 15, 2018
Revolution | Interview with Author Russell Shorto | 7
00:36:39

We've come to the end of our series on the American Revolution, but we can't say goodbye without saying hello to Russell Shorto. Russell adapted his book, Revolution Song, for this series on American History Tellers.

If you were wondering why we chose these six people, what freedom meant for each of them, and why the fight we began then may still be something we're dealing with today, then this episode is for you!


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Aug 08, 2018
Revolution | The Populist | 6
00:37:53

Millions immigrated to the United States after its founding, entranced with the promise of a better life. But the country they found was rough and tumble, less developed than the land they left, and had some serious issues. Last week we looked at slavery, and today we'll go inside the often-overlooked class conflict that was playing out among Americans, even as elites and commoners alike came together to fight the British.


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Aug 01, 2018
Revolution | The Free Man | 5
00:36:24

The Revolution was fought for freedom, at least in name. Calls for freedom filled the air. No taxation without representation! Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!

The Marquis de Lafayette, who had fought valiantly at Washington's side throughout the war, spoke for many when he wrote bitterly after the war:

"I would never have drawn my sword in the cause of America if I could have conceived that thereby I was founding a land of slavery."

This episode explores one man's experience of being a slave and then being free during America's founding decades.


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Jul 25, 2018
Revolution | The Independent Woman | 4
00:37:30

In 1788, the hot gossip in posh British circles was all about France and America. For their friends across the channel, the popular uprising against King Louis XVI seems to be heading toward Revolution. And for their unruly cousins across the Atlantic, the fledgling country seems already headed for ruin. But this is a country their people believed in - and not just white men. A new generation of American women, inspired by the Enlightenment, were calling for greater freedoms.


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Jul 18, 2018
Revolution | The Iroquois Diplomat | 3
00:35:21

It’s 1786. For two years the city of Philadelphia has been celebrating its independence. For citizens of this brand new country, life is parties, meetings, debates and festivals - sometimes all blended together. But it wasn’t fun and games for everyone. Even before the war, American distrusted both the natives and the British. While Native American tribes weren’t a ‘side’ in the Revolutionary War, the politics and broken promises of the Colonies locked Indians, British and American forces alike in battle.


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Jul 11, 2018
Revolution | The Empire Builder | 2
00:40:07

In 1776, the British Under Secretary of State for the American Colonies was giddy. The Americans needed to be punished like children for their bad behavior. “Roman severity,” he called it, and then when he crushed the rebellion, the American children could come crawling back to their British parents, begging for forgiveness. It would be his crowning glory, he thought. It was not.


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This Series of American History Tellers is written by Russell Shorto, author of the book Revolution Song. Get your copy of Revolution Song from W.W. Norton today.

Jul 04, 2018
Revolution | The Virginia Planter | 1
00:35:24

It’s 1754, and the British had developed thirteen colonies along the eastern seaboard of the American continent. You may be familiar with them. But what you may not know is that a skirmish between the British and French settlers, who colonized a strip of land lining the Mississippi River, is where a young George Washington made a serious war blunder that ultimately led to Revolution.

Written by New York Times bestselling author, Russell Shorto, this is Revolution by American History Tellers. Over the next six episodes, we’ll dive into the Revolutionary War period from the perspectives of a slave, a woman, a native American, a common shoemaker and a British aristocrat.


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Jun 27, 2018
Hearst vs Pulitzer | The Headless Torso | 2
00:38:30

If you lived in an American city at the turn of the century, you got all of your news from a single source: the daily newspapers. No where was that more true than New York City; in the City, two papers ruled them all. You had the World and the Journal. And then men behind them were the most famous newsmen in American History.

William Randolph Hearst headed up the Journal and Hungarian immigrant Joseph Pulitzer ran the World.

In their mad scramble for readers, they’d pioneer daring technologies and set new precedents for aggressive investigative coverage. They poured millions of dollars into the fight even when their advisors warned it could push them over the brink.

And in the end, it very nearly did. 


This is just the beginning of this story. You can listen to the rest on Business Wars.


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Jun 20, 2018
The Space Race| Photo Finish | 4
00:41:00

JFK said that nothing in the 1960s was "...more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space..." than getting a man to the moon and back safely. As the Apollo 11 flight neared, the entire nation waited, enraptured. But back in the USSR, the Soviets were also making strides. Though the contest with the Soviets for technological superiority had always been a race, it was now a literal one - a U.S. manned spacecraft was about to chase down a Soviet robotic vessel.


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Jun 06, 2018
The Space Race | Taking the Lead | 3
00:39:25

In times of crisis, Americans had always put their confidence in their country’s superiority in power, technology and leadership. America had never failed them. And in 1961, hope and faith in their country burned brighter than ever as NASA prepared to launch the first man into space. A month out from launch, that light was effectively snuffed. The Soviets beat them to it. On April 12, 1961, cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin became the first person in space and the first person to orbit Earth. The world was in awe. And America was in shock.


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May 30, 2018
The Space Race | Playing Catch Up | 2
00:38:02

Information sharing was normal in the global scientific community, but when it came to rockets, normal rules didn’t apply. If the details got passed along to civilian scientists, there was no telling where that intel might end up…

But for many Americans, the Eisenhower just wasn’t moving fast enough. Sputnik was still orbiting! The Soviets were winning! Eisenhower downplayed Sputnik,calling it “one small ball in the air,” but privately he was worried.

The U.S. had the ability to beat the Soviets to space. But they didn’t. And Eisenhower wanted to know why.

Warning: this episode is packed with as much explosive power as is packed in the warhead of a ballistic missile.


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May 23, 2018
The Space Race | Starting Gun | 1
00:38:35

Remember Werner von Braun? We talked a little bit about him in our Cold War series. He was in charge of the German rocket program in World War II. First used to lob missiles and bombs all over Europe, von Braun always dreamed of something better for his rockets. As the Soviet and American forces were closing in on Germany to end the war, von Braun saw only one way out: surrender to the American forces and get to the States.

Amid the wreckage of the Third Reich, the first leg of the Space Race would be a sprint to locate von Braun.


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May 16, 2018
History Through Innovation | Interview with Steven Johnson | 1
00:40:41

The phone in your hand is more powerful than all of the computers that put a man on the moon, combined. In the age of supercomputers, driverless cars, and mail-order DNA testing it’s easy to forget that the journey to these incredible innovations was a lot of surprising moments. We’re fascinated with the scientists, engineers and innovators who changed the world for the better… and sometimes worse. These are the leaps of mankind, as they happened.

Introducing American Innovations from Wondery. Hosted by Steven Johnson, listen and subscribe to our first arc, The Dynamo of DNA, wherever you’re listening to this right now.


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May 10, 2018
The Age of Jackson | Manifest Destiny | 6
00:40:03

“Manifest Destiny” is a uniquely American idea. The phrase captured the sense of inevitability—and entitlement—many citizens still feel. But in the 19th century this idea consumed American’s thought and identity.

In the minds of white settlers moving westward, expansion was key to protecting American democracy.

But white settlers weren’t equipped for the wild, harsh, and desolate newly-American landscape they found. Those who did make it to California had Mexican governance to deal with - and they would deal with it however they saw fit to make California part of the United States. More war and bloodshed haunted the 1840s, and officially fulfilled Jackson’s autocratic legacy. We hope you enjoyed this arc on American History Tellers. We’ll be back with a brand new series soon.


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May 02, 2018
The Age of Jackson | The Little Magician | 5
00:35:38

During the last years of Jackson's presidency, the economy flourished. The national debt was paid in full, industry and agriculture boomed. But when Martin Van Buren assumed the presidency, he inherited an economic disaster. The divide between rich and poor was growing and people were starting to lose their patience. The country was so on edge that the threat of increase in the price of flour caused riots in Manhattan. How this happened and more, in today's episode.


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Apr 25, 2018
The Age of Jackson | Great White Father | 4
00:36:04

During his political rise, Jackson distinguished himself with his ability to exact ruthless military victories over indigenous people. As President Native Americans felt the brunt of this power. Whatever his achievements during his lifetime, his legacy is forever "Indian removal" from lands they'd originally inhabited to make way for white settlers.

And none would feel the brunt of Jackson’s force more than the groups known as the Five Civilized Tribes—“civilized,” white settlers believed, because they raised animals and farmed.


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Apr 18, 2018
The Age of Jackson | King Mob | 3
00:33:23

From the beginning, Jackson's administration was riddled with controversy. Citizens mobbed the White House on inauguration day, breaking furniture and fine china. They were only lured out with alcohol. And then there was the "Petticoat Affair." His Secretary of War, John Henry Eaton, was the ideal candidate for what we now call the Secretary of State, but there was one small problem... the most beautiful woman in Washington. John was having an affair with a sailor's wife which started rumors around town... that was nothing compared to the firestorm of gossip around town after he married her just after her husband's tragic death at sea. There was widespread chaos and controversy and Jackson's term was just getting started.


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Apr 11, 2018
The Age of Jackson | Good Feelings | 2
00:32:14

In the summer of 1817, President James Monroe toured the country in an effort to unite the ever-growing United States, torn between bitter political battles that overshadowed national conflict.

To Monroe, the nation seemed ready “to get back into the great family of the union.” And based on reactions to his speech, he was right. A Federalist newspaper hailed Monroe’s visit, and his message of togetherness, as a success.

It ushered in what became known as “The Era of Good Feelings.” In truth, it was barely an era at all. The appearance of political unity had already begun to crack in 1819, when the Monroe administration faced its first serious political crisis: the Missouri Controversy.


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Apr 04, 2018
The Age of Jackson | Washington Burns | 1
00:35:28

In August 1814, the White House burned. A fire that would eventually consume the entire nation in Civil War was already burning. This is Antebellum America.

This is the adolescence of the United States, when the country grew at tremendous speed, and when fundamental questions about the kind of place it would be were being asked. Like, could the states put their individual differences aside to remain one country? And could this new country live up to its lofty ideals, especially when it came to issues like slavery or the treatment of Native Americans?

Welcome to the Age of Jackson.


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Mar 28, 2018
Prohibition | Interview with Lillian Cunningham | 7
00:32:35

Do you know the record for the longest ratification period of any constitutional amendment? Lillian Cunningham did. She’s an editor with the Washington Post, host of two outstanding American History podcasts, Presidential and Constitutional, and she’s our guest today. 

We’ll talk about amendments, those presidents you can never remember (can you name anything about Millard Fillmore?) and she helps us preview the next series on AHT, the Age of Jackson.


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Mar 21, 2018
Prohibition - We Want Beer | 6
00:34:57

The people had spoken: They wanted beer, and they wanted it now, but not just for drinking. Protestors wanted the jobs that came with breweries, and the country was desperate from the money that could come from alcohol taxes. As quickly as temperance organizations sprang up in the decade before, anti-Prohibition organizations appeared in every city. But, a constitutional amendment had never been repealed before. The anti-Prohibition leagues realized they needed someone bigger than a governor or mayor to repeal this. They went after the Presidency.

For a deeper understanding of the interplay between beer, taxation and the history of Repeal, Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Brew by Maureen Ogle is essential reading.  

Kenneth D. Rose’s American Women and the Repeal of Prohibition provided insight into Pauline Sabin’s work, as did David J. Hanson’s comprehensive resource, Alcohol Problems and Solutions.

Those who want to do a deeper dive into the 1932 DNC and the mob’s involvement, you can read more in the article from Salon, Corruption for Decades. Lisa McGirr’s The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State also explores the relationship between the New Deal and Repeal. For more on Cox’s Army, check out The Bonus Army: An American Epic by Paul Dixon and Thomas B. Allen.

Andrew Barr’s Drink: A Social History of America contains a great chapter about the failure of controls and the legacy of prohibition in state liquor laws and the relationship between California’s wine industry and repeal is well documented in When the Rivers Ran Red by Vivienne Sosnowski. To catch up with the bartenders who are bringing back pre-Prohibition cocktails, David Wondrich’s Imbibe is required reading.


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Mar 14, 2018
Prohibition - Down and Out | 5
00:35:47

Closing Time by Daniel Francis provides a good account of the border wars and smuggling across the northern border. Robert Rockaway’s article “The Notorious Purple Gang” details the gang’s origin as well as the Cleaners and Dyers War.

For information about the link between Prohibition and organized crime in Chicago, Gus Russo’s The Outfit and Get Capone by Johnathan Eig are invaluable sources. Al Capone’s Beer Wars by John J. Binder is a fantastic re-assessment of the period that sorts out some of the fact from fiction, in a highly mythologized period. 

For more on the Increased Penalties Act, Michael Lerner’s Dry Manhattan, is a good resource used for this podcast, as is Daniel Okrent’s Last Call. Robin Room’s The Movies and the Wettening of America is the source for the section on Hollywood’s move away from temperance.

Kenneth D. Rose’s American Women and the Repeal of Prohibition provided insight into Pauline Sabin’s work, as did David J. Hanson’s comprehensive resource, Alcohol Problems and Solutions. The Washington Post’s recap of The Man in the Green Hat exposé is available here. 


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Mar 07, 2018
Prohibition - Poisoning the Well | 4
00:32:02

The rise of the speakeasy was one of many unintended consequences of Prohibition - and others were much deadlier.

Not coincidentally, at the same time Prohibition was taking effect, the Klu Klux Klan rose to power. They combined Prohibition’s anti-immigrant rhetoric with violence. 

As the number of speakeasies continued to grow, and states continued to buckle down, suppliers couldn’t keep up. Quality went down. Most bootleg alcohol from the time had elements of stuff that would kill you. But people everywhere still wanted to drink - and they would go to any length to get one.

Almost everyone could see there was a problem with how Prohibition was actually playing out, but no one could agree what the solution was.

No Place of Grace by T. J. Jackson Lears is a fantastic book to learn about the roots of modernism and anti-modernism in American culture. Allan Levine’s The Devil in Babylon also explores these themes, specifically how these impulses played out in 1920’s America.

For more on the author of Elmer Gantry, Sinclair Lewis: Rebel from Main Street by Richard Lingerman is a great read. And to understand the relationship between the Ku Klux Klan and Prohibition, Paul Angle’s Bloody Williamson: A Chapter in American Lawlessness and Thomas Pegram’s articles and books, including One Hundred Percent American are essential reading. Again, Lisa McGirr’s The War on Alcohol explores these topics quite thoroughly and connects them to the rise of the modern state. 

A few different articles have delved into the dirty political campaigns of the 1920s, including this good summary by Mental Floss.


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Feb 28, 2018
Prohibition - Speakeasy | 3
00:31:02

While Prohibition was successful in closing the saloon, it didn’t quench America’s thirst. Enterprising bootleggers found more ways to provide more alcohol to parched Americans – so much that there was finally enough supply to meet demand. New drinking establishments popped up across the nation: speakeasies.

Forced underground, these new types of saloons operated under new rules, too. Women drank right alongside the men, and both black and white patrons danced together to Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway, all while local cops shrugged or were paid off to look the other way.

But the Feds hadn’t turned their backs on the bootleggers. They went undercover, arresting thousands in stings that some claimed were entrapment. Increasingly, Federal agents took the job of enforcing Prohibition seriously. They had to; the business of illicit alcohol was growing dangerous – and violent.

To learn more about Izzy Einstein and Moe Smith and the problems involved in the enforcement of Prohibition, check out Professor David J. Hanson’s, “Alcohol Problems and Solutions,” is an excellent resource.

If you want to read more about the raids on Prohibition-era speakeasies in New Orleans, this “Intemperance” map by Hannah C. Griggs is an amazing resource that shows every single raid over in that city. For New York speakeasies, Michael Lerner’s Dry Manhattan is a thorough investigation of that city. Queen of the Nightclubs by Louise Berliner is also a fun read.

To learn more about Harlem and the generation gap in the 1920s, Terrible Honesty by Ann Douglas is required reading.


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Feb 21, 2018
Prohibition - Drying Out | 2
00:29:44

When a German U-boat torpedoed the RMS Lusitania on Friday, May 7th, 1915, Americans found two new enemies: Germany and the beer it was so associated with. Anti-German sentiment grew, and with it hostility to the breweries founded in the 19th century by German immigrants. Soon, the war effort and the temperance movement were linked: it was patriotic to abstain, and Prohibition became law.

How did America cope? They swapped their stool at the bar for a seat at the soda shop, listening to new radios and the first ever baseball broadcasts. But Americans’ thirst wasn’t ever fully quenched: they turned to family doctors who prescribed “medicinal alcohol,” and then finally to the bootleggers, moonshiners and rum-runners who made, smuggled and sold hooch of all types, from top-shelf French cognac to homemade swill that might just kill you.


For more about the Lusitania, check out Dead Wake: The Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson.

Daniel Okrent’s Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition has more information on medicinal alcohol and how it was prescribed by doctors. To learn more about medicinal beer, this article by Beverly Gage for The Smithsonian is excellent.

The 1991 study “Alcohol Consumption During Prohibition” by Jeffrey A. Miron and Jeffrey Zwiebel, is considered the definitive study about how much people actually drank during the noble experiment. For more information on how Prohibition played out in the early days, check out Professor David J. Hanson’s, “Alcohol Problems and Solutions,” a comprehensive, interactive site that outlines all the various stakeholders in the Noble Experiment.

To read more about Americans behaving badly in Cuba and other places during Prohibition, check out Wayne Curtis’s And A Bootle of Rum: A History of the World in Ten Cocktails, as well as Matthew Rowley’s Lost Recipes of Prohibition. And, to learn more about rum-runners, Daniel Francis’s book, Closing Time: Prohibition, Rum-Runners and Border Wars is an excellent reference.

Further references can be found in America Walks Into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops by Christine Sismondo.


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Feb 14, 2018
Prohibition - Closing Time | 1
00:37:49

On January 17, 1920, the United States passed the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution, ushering in a 13-year dry spell known as Prohibition. But how did a country that loved to drink turn its back on alcohol? How did two-thirds of both the House and Senate and three-fourths of State legislatures all agree that going dry was the way to get the country going forward? It had always been a long, uphill battle for the temperance movement, but towards the end of the nineteenth century, certain forces aligned: fears of industrialization, urbanization and immigration. Traditional American life was changing - fast - and many people looked for a scapegoat: the saloon.

For more information on how Prohibition came to be, check out Professor David J. Hanson’s, “Alcohol Problems and Solutions,” a comprehensive, interactive site that outlines all the various stakeholders in the Noble Experiment.

Daniel Okrent’s Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition is a key text for learning more about Prohibition and how it came about. And, to narrow in on New York, itself, Michael Lerner’s Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City is a tremendous resource.

The bootlegger character was based on a real story, A Bootlegger’s Story: How I Started, which ran in the New Yorker in 1926.

For more on the Atlanta race riots and how they connect to Prohibition, check out this story on NPR, in which professor Cliff Kuhn describes his research. To learn more about the intersection between race and the policing of Prohibition, Lisa McGirr’s The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State is invaluable.

Further references can be found in America Walks Into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops by Christine Sismondo.


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Feb 07, 2018
The Cold War - Interview with Audra Wolfe and Patrick Wyman | 7
00:44:54

We’re closing out our series on the Cold War with two interviews with fascinating historians. First, we’re talking with Audra Wolfe, the author of Competing with the Soviets: Science, Technology, and the State in Cold War America, and the writer of this first six-part series of American History Tellers. Then, we take a seat in the way-back machine with Patrick Wyman, host of the hit podcasts Fall of Rome and Tides of History. We’ll investigate how the Cold War standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union compares to another much earlier rivalry between ancient Rome and the Sassanid Persians. They might not have pointed nuclear warheads at each other, but the conflict was nonetheless tense and protracted.


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Jan 31, 2018
The Cold War - Last Man Standing | 6
00:41:25

In the early 1970s, while trying to wind down the war in Vietnam, President Richard Nixon made overtures to Moscow and Beijing that would usher in a new era of the Cold War: Detente. But the thaw in relations didn’t last long - the Iran Hostage Crisis and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan set the old adversaries against each other once again. Throughout the Eighties, President Reagan took a hard line against the “Evil Empire,” ramping up military spending and rhetoric, and Americans were once again tense with nuclear anxiety.

Until suddenly, it all changed.


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Jan 24, 2018
The Cold War - The Long 1960s | 5
00:39:46

America sent a man to the moon in 1969, and with Neil Armstrong’s first steps, the United States projected to the world an image of American power, wealth and achievement. But it was hardly just for bragging rights. The space race started under Kennedy to compete with the Soviets on a global stage, but it was under Johnson that its goals became domestic. NASA, Head Start, Medicaid and even the war in Vietnam were domestic social programs, used at least in part to alleviate poverty, provide jobs and desegregate the country.

But the spending on these programs birthed a new political movement on the right demanding smaller government - and attracted the ire of progressives on the left who thought the money spent on rockets to be misdirected. Meanwhile, the war in Vietnam intensified, costing the nation far more than just money.

For more on NASA’s efforts to desegregate the South, check out the book “We Could Not Fail,” by Richard Paul and Steven Moss.

For more on the African American women who worked as human computers for NASA, overcoming discrimination and sexism to change history, we recommend the book “Hidden Figures,” by Margot Lee Shetterly.

Finally, Audra Wolfe’s book, “Competing with the Soviets,” was crucial to our overall understanding of the Cold War.


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Jan 17, 2018
The Cold War - The Nature of Risk | 4
00:38:43

Americans were desperate to find hope in the shadow of the bomb.

Miracle cures, cheap energy, and even brand new atomic gardens: the wonders of the atom were ours to discover! Right? Eager to explore nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes, Americans instead found the resulting radioactive fallout too dangerous.

In Episode 4, we’ll talk about swim wear, baby teeth, and how America just couldn’t get friendly with the atom.

Scott Kauffman’s “Project Plowshare: The Peaceful Use of Nuclear Explosives in Cold War Alaska” was inspired by Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” speech and essential reading for anyone interested in nuclear history.

Finally, Audra Wolfe’s book, “Competing with the Soviets,” was crucial to our overall understanding of the Cold War.


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Jan 10, 2018
The Cold War - Nuclear Fear | 3
00:44:37

What is the United States to do when direct conflict with the Soviet Union promises almost certain annihilation? They turned to proxy wars and psychological warfare with the threat of nuclear weapons keeping both countries in check. Ever wondered how an atom bomb works? We’ll cover it in Episode 3 including the scientific concepts, the arms race and the problem of ensuring complete and absolute control over these weapons.

For more information on the subjects and themes discussed in the episode, see the book “Raven’s Rock” by Garrett Graff. It goes into great detail about the secret plans our government made to ride out a nuclear holocaust.

Eric Schlosser’s “Command and Control” examines the ways the nuclear arsenal was required to function at 100% — and what happened the few times it didn’t.

“Command and Control” was also made into a riveting documentary film.

Finally, Audra Wolfe’s book, “Competing with the Soviets,” was crucial to our overall understanding of the Cold War.

Listen and subscribe to Wondery's podcast Tides of History.


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Jan 03, 2018
The Cold War - Hearts and Minds | 2
00:37:24

Forget trenches, infantry and tanks. The United States and Soviet Union fought the Cold War with ideas and information. Episode 2 describes the cunning of Soviet propaganda campaigns. The United States adapted those techniques for their own purposes, broadcasting an image of the nation as a beacon of hope and freedom through covert ops and jazz concerts alike - even if those at home were hurting or oppressed.

For more information on the subjects and themes discussed in the episode, see the book “Total Cold War,” by Kenneth Osgood. It’s essential to understanding how propaganda shaped policy and vice-versa during the Cold War.

Penny Von Eschen’s books, “Race Against Empire,” and “Satchmo Blows Up the World,” discuss at length the ways in which black American culture, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement both helped and hindered US foreign policy goals.

Finally, Audra Wolfe’s book, “Competing with the Soviets,” was crucial to our overall understanding of the Cold War.


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Jan 03, 2018
The Cold War - An Ideological War | 1
00:39:03

For nearly 50 years, the United States and Soviet Union waged a global war of ideas fueled by politics, intrigue, and nuclear weapons. But how did the polarized ideologies of these two global powers threaten the existence of the entire world?

This is Episode 1 of a six-part series on the Cold War. We’ll discover how the United States’ suspicion of communism not only led to a global stand-off, but threatened the freedom and democracy Americans so cherished at home.

For more information on the subjects and themes discussed in the episode, see the book “Global Cold War,” by Odd Arne Wested. It’s an amazing dissection of the ideologies that dominated the Cold War. See also, “Many Are the Crimes,” by Ellen Schrecker, for an in-depth discussion of McCarthyism and the real world effects of the Red Scare.

For more info about Bentley Glass, the geneticist under investigation at the beginning of the article, see Audra Wolfe’s article, The Organization Man and the Archive: A Look at the Bentley Glass Papers. Wolfe’s book, “Competing with the Soviets,” was also crucial to our understanding of the Cold War.


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Jan 03, 2018
Introducing American History Tellers
00:02:30

American History Tellers. Our History, Your Story

Premieres January 3rd.

Dec 13, 2017