American History Hit

By History Hit

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Subscribers: 233
Reviews: 1

Mike
 Dec 15, 2022
Enjoyable podcast. A little pro American bias does creep in. Ted Roosevelt may be rated as one of the top 10 US Presidents, but one has to recall his Racism. He showed the KKK film Birth of our Nation in the Whitehouse and declared it was the truth.

Description

Join Don Wildman twice a week for your hit of American history, as he explores the past to help us understand the United States of today.

 

We’ll hear how codebreakers uncovered secret Japanese plans for the Battle of Midway, visit Chief Powhatan as he prepares for war with the British, see Walt Disney accuse his former colleagues of being communists, and uncover the dark history that lies beneath Central Park.  

 

From pre-colonial America to independence, slavery to civil rights, the gold rush to the space race, join Don as he speaks to leading experts to delve into America’s past.

 

New episodes every Monday and Thursday.

 

Brought to you by History Hit, the award-winning podcast network and world’s best history channel on demand, featuring shows like Dan Snow’s History Hit, Not Just The Tudors and Betwixt the Sheets.




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Episode Date
Yellowstone
38:03

For thousands of years, nomadic Native American peoples crossed the Yellowstone River basin, in awe of its stunning landscape and geothermal wonders. Very few colonial Americans had set sight on its mountains, geysers and hot springs before geologist Ferdinand Hayden and his party arrived in the summer of 1871.


Hayden's survey, the first of the region, contributed to Yellowstone becoming the first National Park in America. But while the Yellowstone Act of 1872 protected the area from development by private business, it dispossessed the Native Americans of their ancestral land.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Anisha Deva. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Jan 30, 2023
The Fall of J. Edgar Hoover
34:50

From 1956 to 1971, J. Edgar Hoover ran COINTELPRO (Counterintelligence Program). A series of covert and illegal FBI operations aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting political organisations in America. The leaders of pro-civil rights, anti-Vietnam war and pro-choice groups were among those targeted. When the programme was uncovered, it revealed the paranoia that consumed Hoover in his last decades in power and would change his legacy forever.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Thomas Ntinas. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Jan 26, 2023
The Rise of J. Edgar Hoover
43:02

J. Edgar Hoover was the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 48 years. He grew the FBI from a small, obscure operation to one that employed thousands of agents, investigating everything from kidnapping and bank robberies to political subversion and international espionage. Beverley Gage tells Don how Hoover guided every aspect of the FBI's operation for his decades in charge. And how, if he had decided to step down at the end of the 1950s, we might remember him very differently.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Joseph Knight. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Jan 23, 2023
Ellis Island
33:20

From the 1880s to the 1920s the United States experienced a huge wave of immigration. People fleeing poverty and political instability in Europe, plus a huge demand for labour in the US, meant record numbers of people came to America. Most arrived by ship and were processed on Ellis Island, in New York harbour - an immigration station opened in 1892 when the facility on Manhattan couldn't deal with the numbers coming in. Vincent Cannato tells Don what happened on Ellis Island and the story of the people who, in passing through it, became Americans. From which 40 percent of the US population today are descendants.


Produced and mixed by Benjie Guy. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Jan 19, 2023
Dr Martin Luther King Jr
34:51

Dr Martin Luther King Jr was one of the figureheads of the civil rights movement in America. On 28th August 1963, he made one of the greatest English language speeches of all time, I Have A Dream. A quarter of million people, who had gathered in the National Mall after the Great March on Washington, in support of African American civil and economic rights, heard his dream of racial equality. Tragically gunned down at only 39 years old, the fight for equality that he began, continues today. On today's episode, Charles Woods III tells Dan Snow about Martin Luther King Jr.


Mixed by Thomas Ntinas, Dougal Patmore and Benjie Guy. Produced by Charlotte Long.


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Jan 16, 2023
Charles Dickens in America
39:39

One of the most famous writers ever to have lived, Charles Dickens travelled twice to the US, in 1842 and 1867. This made him one of the first transatlantic celebrities. Don goes to Dickens' house in London to see some items he took with him. He also speaks to Dickens' great great great granddaughter, Lucinda Hawksley, to hear what Dickens got up to in America and what he made of the place.


Produced and mixed by Benjie Guy. Assistant Producer: Sophie Gee. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Jan 12, 2023
Inside Benjamin Franklin's House
35:43

Join Don as he visits Benjamin Franklin's home of nearly 16 years: 36 Craven Street, London. Now a museum, its director Marcia Balisciano explains what brought the famous polymath to London, how he lived and the various things the famed scientist, diplomat, philosopher, inventor and Founding Father of the United States got up to while he was there - including his role in the beginnings of the American Revolution.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Aidan Lonergan. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Jan 09, 2023
Lessons from the Civil War
29:50

Gone with the Wind, released in 1939, is the highest-grossing film of all time. Based on Margaret Mitchell's novel published a few years earlier, it is a story of romance set against the backdrop of the civil war and reconstruction era. But, as Sarah Churchwell tells Don, it whitewashes the horrors of slavery, while condemning those who abolished it. And it is not alone. This is something that has happened in popular culture and the media since the civil war and continues today.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Assistant producer Sophie Gee. Mixed by Joseph Knight. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Jan 05, 2023
Downton Abbey
27:38

It’s December 1912 and we’re joining in with the festivities at Highclere Castle, in London England. The prime minister is Herbert H. Asquith and King George V is on the throne. Across the Atlantic, America has left the Gilded Age behind and elected Woodrow Wilson as president.


Downton Abbey, the hugely popular television series, was filmed at Highclere Castle. The show is of course fiction, but it’s set in a home where the history is real, and no doubt the food was delicious…that is, if you like meat pies and blood pudding. Today, for a special festive episode, we’re looking at history through the lens of food served at Downton Abbey - and what it can tell us about how people lived at that time.


How did British early 20th century eating influence dining in America? And did it go both ways, how were the Brits influenced by what we were cooking here in the US? Don is joined by food historian Annie Gray to tell us more.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Anisha Deva. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Dec 29, 2022
The First Americans
1:04:16

Modern humans thrived in the Americas for thousands of years before the first European colonists arrived, but how and when did they get there?


What's more, did their arrival spell disaster for indigenous megafauna such as giant ground sloths and wooly mammoths, or was there another culprit behind the mass extinctions across North, Central & South America?


This is an episode is from our sister podcast, The Ancients. Host Tristan is joined by Professor David Meltzer, an archeologist from Southern Methodist University, to explore the nature of human migration into the Americas and how scientific developments now allow us to discover more about those very first Americans.


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Dec 22, 2022
The French & Indian War with Dan Snow
22:54

As the British and French colonies in North America expanded in the middle of the 18th century, they inevitably clashed. Fighting between the two sides and their respective Native American allies began in Ohio Country (now western Pennsylvania) in 1754. Dan Snow tells Don how fighting began in 1754 in Ohio country (now western Pennsylvania) and spread, over almost a decade, across disputed territory in the Great Lakes region and into New France (modern-day Canada). As a result of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the war, France's presence in North America was all but ended. They were left only with the small islands of St Pierre and Miquelon, off Newfoundland.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Aidan Lonergan. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Dec 19, 2022
The War of 1812
44:24

In the early 19th century, amidst the Napoleonic wars, the British began restricting the United States’ trade with Europe. On top of this, the British Navy began recruiting American sailors by force. As a result, on 18th June, 1812, the US declared war. The conflict, between the United States and the British and their Native American allies, lasted until February 1815. With America still a very young nation, trying to assert itself on the world stage, it is often called the second American war of independence.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Thomas Ntinas. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Dec 15, 2022
The Assassination of President McKinley
40:05

On 5th September, 1901, President William McKinley attended a public reception at the Pan American Exposition, a 6-month-long World’s Fair, in Buffalo, New York. He was at the height of his power, having been re-elected at the beginning of the year. But one of the people who stood in line to meet him was an anarchist, determined to carry out the first US presidential assassination of the 20th century. 

 

Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Joseph Knight. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long. 


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Dec 12, 2022
Pearl Harbor
35:30

On the morning of 7th December 1941, hundreds of Japanese planes took off from aircraft carriers and attacked Pearl Harbor, on Oahu island, Hawaii. They took out ships, bombed airfields and killed thousands of Americans. Japan intended to neutralise the US navy, to prevent it from interfering in the Pacific, where Japan was expanding its empire. But the effect was the opposite. America declared war on Japan, as well as Germany and Italy and entered World War 2. Don recounts the damage done in 90 devastating minutes. Eri Hotta tells Don about the negotiations between the US and Japan, explains why Japan decided to carry out the attack and Japanese people's reaction to it.


Produced and mixed by Benjie Guy. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Dec 08, 2022
Start of the Space Race
40:04

Space historian Jay Gallentine tells Don how World War 2 weapons paved the way for space rockets, igniting a space race between the USA and the USSR that would see the first projectiles, satellites and people leave Earth’s atmosphere.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Aidan Lonergan. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Dec 05, 2022
Capturing Lincoln’s Assassin
25:56

On shooting President Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth fled Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC on horseback, eventually heading south. But Lincoln’s was not the only assassination planned that night. Michael Kauffman tells Don about the others - attempted and abandoned - on the evening of April 14th, 1865, and the ill-fated run from the law of Booth and his co-conspirators.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Thomas Ntinas. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Dec 01, 2022
The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
40:30

On the evening of 14th April, 1865, the Union was celebrating victory in the civil war, won 5 days earlier with General Lee's surrender at Appomattox. President Abraham Lincoln was watching a play at Ford's Theatre in Washington DC. But some Southern sympathisers still thought the Confederacy could be restored. Among them was the actor John Wilkes Booth. He entered the theatre, made his way to Lincoln's box and carried out the first assassination of a US president. Michael Kauffman takes Don through the conspiracy to murder Lincoln and the act itself, after which Booth fled on horseback, into the night.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Aidan Lonergan. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Nov 28, 2022
The First Thanksgiving
45:10

In the fall of 1621, a year after the pilgrim ship the Mayflower landed on the coast of New England, the settlers of the Plymouth Colony celebrated their first successful harvest. Joining them at the three day feast were the Wampanoag people, Native Americans who had to taught the settlers how to grow corn, ensuring the community would survive the coming winter. Richard Pickering tells Don about the difficulties faced by the pilgrims as they made their way from Europe and how the first Thanksgiving forged diplomatic relations with the Wampanoag people. Creating the foundations for the national holiday now celebrated every year in America.


Produced and mixed by Benjie Guy. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Nov 24, 2022
Ronald Reagan: The Peacemaker
46:54

When Ronald Reagan became President in 1981, he was initially written off by many as a reckless B movie cowboy who would lead the US to nuclear war.

However, as William Inboden tells Don, Reagan would go on to defy the odds on the international stage. Navigating complex foreign policy challenges, from Grenada to Lebanon and of course the Cold War. Taking the Soviets and the World to the brink of the unthinkable, while charting an unpredictable path to peace.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Edited & Mixed by Thomas Ntinas. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long. 


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Nov 21, 2022
Who Really Invented the Light Bulb?
31:11

While Thomas Edison is widely credited as the inventor of the electric lightbulb in 1879, it had existed in one form or another since the the beginning of the 19th century. But as Hugh Price tells Don, another American - Lewis Latimer - had his own light bulb moment: tweaking Edison’s invention a year later to create a longer-lasting and more affordable light bulb, able to light the buildings and streets of America, and the world. 

 

Produced and mixed by Benjie Guy. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long. 

 

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Nov 17, 2022
The Whiskey Rebellion
47:29

The Whiskey Tax, imposed in 1791, was the first federal tax on a domestic product by a United States government. It was introduced by Alexander Hamilton to pay the interest on war bonds that had been issued to wealthy backers of the the American Revolution. But many Whiskey distillers in Western Pennsylvania refused to pay a tax that would only benefit a few rich bond holders. Over the course of three years, there were attacks on federal and local tax collectors and the region became a law unto itself. A situation only suppressed, as William Hogeland tells Don, by President George Washington gathering together a militia of 12,000 men and marching to Western Pennsylvania .

Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Thomas Ntinas. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long. 


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Nov 14, 2022
African Americans in WW2
37:07

The experience of African Americans in World War 2 was, to say the least, a gross double standard. While fascism was confronted in the name of liberty and justice, those same ideals were denied to African Americans, who suffered racism and segregation, at home and on the front line. As Matthew Delmont tells Don, to African Americans, what was happening in Europe and elsewhere was an ugly reminder of the prejudice and bigotry they faced in their own nation.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Aidan Lonergan. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Nov 10, 2022
The Race for the North Pole
54:10

On April 6th 1909, deep inside the Artic Circle after months on the ice, Robert Peary, Matthew Henson and their four Inuit guides reached what they thought was the North Pole. But, as Edward J. Larson tells Don, Peary’s measurements and the speed of their journey were immediately called into question. Nonetheless, Congress voted to recognise Peary’s expedition as the first to reach the North Pole, dismissing a rival's claim to have done it a year earlier.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Aidan Lonergan. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Nov 07, 2022
Becoming FDR
35:09

In August 1921, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was 39 years old, he contracted Polio, paralysing him from the waist down. Jonathan Darman tells Don how, despite some telling FDR that any political aspirations he might have were over, he went on to become the 32nd President of the United States.


Produced and mixed by Benjie Guy. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Nov 03, 2022
Sleepy Hollow & the Haunted Hudson
32:51

On Halloween, Elizabeth Bradley tells Don about Washington Irving's famous story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, its headless horseman and the influence of European folklore on this famous American gothic tale. 


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Thomas Ntinas. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long. 


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Oct 31, 2022
America's Psychedelic '60s: Timothy Leary and LSD
40:48

In 1963, a Gilded Age estate in Millbrook, New York, became a venue for academic research into therapeutic uses for LSD, led by psychologist Timothy Leary. Over the next few years evolved into the home of the psychedelic movement of 1960s America. 


Guests were invited to turn on, tune in, drop out. Bemused locals first saw their new neighbours as harmless. But, as Devin Lander tells Don, as their number and notoriety grew, so did a moral panic across America.


Produced and mixed by Benjie Guy. Senior producer: Charlotte Long.


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Oct 27, 2022
The Oregon Trail
40:53

From the 1830s until the arrival of the transcontinental railroad, hundreds of thousands of people packed their possessions into wagons and headed west, seeking land and opportunity. Following in the footsteps of Native Americans and fur trading ‘mountain men’, many travelled for several months along what became known as the Oregon Trail. But as Don hears from YouTube history teacher Mr Beat (youtube.com/c/iammrbeat), not all would succeed. Miles from civilisation, people succumbed to disease, dangerous river crossings and attacks by Native Americans, whose land they were crossing and on which they intended to settle.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Thomas Ntinas. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Oct 24, 2022
CIA: The History
43:09

When the Central Intelligence Agency was created by President Truman in 1947, it was the latest incarnation of an American intelligence-gathering service. Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones tells Don about the evolution that led to the creation of the CIA and the often controversial covert operations it has undertaken in the name of US national security.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Aidan Lonergan. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Oct 20, 2022
The US Marines' Pacific War
34:53

When US Marines landed on the island of Guadalcanal in the Pacific, in August 1942, they were taking part in the first US ground offensive of World War 2.


As Saul David tells Don, in taking on the Japanese in the Pacific, they would go on to engage in some of the bloodiest fighting of the whole war.


Produced and mixed by Benjie Guy. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long. 


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Oct 17, 2022
Edward Rulloff: The Gilded Age Hannibal Lecter
43:40

Edward Rulloff was described as “a monster imbued by the spirit of the devil”. In 1844, he murdered his wife, likely killing his daughter at the same time, though he never admitted it. He spent the next three decades either incarcerated or on the run, becoming a career criminal. After killing a man during a robbery in 1870, he was sentenced to death.


But Rulloff was thought of at the time as no ‘ordinary killer’. A trained doctor, a lawyer and philosopher, he spoke twelve languages. As Don hears from Kate Winkler Dawson, in America’s Gilded Age, academics and journalists speculated on his criminal mind, which some claimed was too intelligent to be killed.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Aidan Lonergan. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Oct 13, 2022
Cuban Missile Crisis
49:55

In October 1962, the United States confirmed that Soviet missiles were being deployed in Cuba. President John F. Kennedy had to contemplate the consequences of any US response, knowing an escalation of hostilities could end in all-out nuclear war.


What followed was the period of greatest tension during the Cold War. When journalist and historian Sir Max Hastings started writing Abyss, his new book on the confrontation, he thought he was writing about the threat of nuclear war as history. But, as he tells Don in today’s episode, with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, it has returned to present day.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Aidan Lonergan. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Oct 10, 2022
Central Park: What Lies Beneath
42:48

Central Park is an oasis of nature in New York City, amidst the countless skyscrapers and gridded streets of Manhattan. Over 800 acres of sweeping fields, shaded pathways and picturesque vistas attract more than 42 million visitors a year. It was created to give free and equal access to recreational space for all. But, as Don hears from Leslie Alexander, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of History at Rutgers University, underneath Central Park are the remains of Seneca - a village of African-American, Irish and German communities, whose inhabitants were forced from their homes to make way for the park’s construction in 1857.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Thomas Ntinas. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Oct 06, 2022
Pontiac's Rebellion
33:28

In 1763, Native American tribes in the Great Lakes region began fighting British expansion and rule in their territory, attacking forts and settlements. They were led by the Odawa war chief, Pontiac. The conflicts, which continued over the course of 3 years, forced the British to re-examine their policies towards Native Americans, banning settlements west of the Appalachians. Ned Blackhawk, professor of History and American Studies at Yale, explains how this fuelled the colonists’ desire for independence from Britain.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Thomas Ntinas. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Oct 03, 2022
Battle of Midway
43:02

The Battle of Midway took place between the US and Japan in June 1942. The US victory, after 4 days of fighting in the air and sea around the Pacific island of Midway, is widely seen as a turning point in the Pacific War in World War 2. Craig L. Symonds tells Don about the key decisions made by both sides and the important role played by American code breakers in discovering what was meant to be Japan’s surprise attack.


Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Anisha Deva. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long.


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Sep 29, 2022
Hollywood Blacklist
29:00

After World War 2 ended, the Nazis defeated, America feared communist infiltration of its institutions, among them, Hollywood.


In November 1947, a number of high profile ‘friendly witnesses’ in the film industry, including Walt Disney and Jack Warner of Warner Brothers, appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee and named people and organisations they believed were associated with communists.


As Don hears from Dr. Kathleen Feeley - Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Redlands, this began a witch hunt for communists in the entertainment industry, which lasted more than a decade.


Hundreds of writers, producers and actors - many with no affiliation with communism - were left unable to work.


Senior Producer: Charlotte Long. Producer: Benjie Guy. Mixed by Benjie Guy.


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Sep 26, 2022
Declaration of Independence
28:16

While the Revolutionary War was being fought in July 1776, the 13 British colonies in America came together to approve their Declaration of Independence, the founding document of the United States of America.


Shaped by the Enlightenment ideas of liberty, happiness and reason, the document has since influenced many causes in America and around the world.


In this episode, Don speaks to Reverend Byron Williams about how the Declaration of Independence came about, its meaning and endurance.


You can find out more about Byron's book here.


Produced and mixed by Benjie Guy. The senior producer was Charlotte Long.


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If you'd like to learn even more, we have hundreds of history documentaries, ad-free podcasts, and audiobooks at History Hit - subscribe today!



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Sep 22, 2022
The Atomic Bomb & the Secret City
27:28

In 1939 Franklin D Roosevelt received a letter from Albert Einstein, warning him that the Nazis might be developing nuclear weapons. America has to act fast.


What follows is the creation of a secret city in the rural area of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Around 75,000 people moved to the secret city during the World War Two, and the first atomic bomb was developed in just 28 months.


Don Wildman is joined by historian, Ray Smith, to find out how it was possible, and to hear about the experiences of the people who worked at Oak Ridge, most of whom didn't know what they were creating.


You can find out more here.


The senior producer was Charlotte Long. The producer was Benjie Guy. Mixed by Thomas Ntinas. Special thanks to Fendall Fulton.


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If you'd like to learn even more, we have hundreds of history documentaries, ad-free podcasts, and audiobooks at History Hit - subscribe today!



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Sep 22, 2022
The Queen & US Presidents
6:50

We had plans today to release the first two episodes of American History Hit but due to the news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II last week, we’ve decided to take some time and do something a little different.


You’ll hear those episodes on Thursday September 22, until then here’s a special mini episode looking into the Queen’s historic meetings with US presidents who served during her 70 years on the throne. As she reminded George W Bush in 2003, "unlike in the United States, the British head of state is not limited to two terms of four years, and I have met no less that seven of your predecessors".


Elizabeth’s reign saw her meet thirteen of the last fourteen presidents, from dinner with Kennedy, to touring Buckingham Palace with Nixon. Dancing with Ford, to watching baseball with Bush Senior. Dining with Obama to banqueting with Trump - she’s likely to have met more American presidents than anyone else in history. 


American History Hit will officially launch on Thursday 22nd September.


Senior Producer: Charlotte Long. Producer: Benjie Guy. Mixed by Charlotte Long.


For more History Hit content, subscribe to our newsletters here.


If you'd like to learn even more, we have hundreds of history documentaries, ad-free podcasts, and audiobooks at History Hit - subscribe today!


This episode includes music from Epidemic Sound



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Sep 12, 2022
Welcome to American History Hit
3:12

Join Don Wildman twice a week for your hit of American history, as he explores the past to help us understand the United States of today.

 

We’ll hear how codebreakers uncovered secret Japanese plans for the Battle of Midway, visit Chief Powhatan as he prepares for war with the British, see Walt Disney accuse his former colleagues of being communists, and uncover the hidden history that lies beneath Central Park.  

 

From pre-colonial America to independence, slavery to civil rights, the gold rush to the space race, join Don as he speaks to leading experts to delve into America’s past.

 

New episodes every Monday and Thursday, from September 22nd.

 

Brought to you by History Hit, the award-winning podcast network and world’s best history channel on demand, featuring shows like Dan Snow’s History Hit, Not Just The Tudors and Betwixt the Sheets.


This episode includes music from Epidemic Sound.



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Aug 23, 2022