American History Tellers

By Wondery

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Category: History

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Subscribers: 2749
Reviews: 15

Pavel Quincoses Rodríguez
 May 11, 2019
This is one of my favorite podcasts! I'm a Cuban 🇨🇺, following you from Havana.


 Apr 17, 2019

Deena
 Feb 1, 2019
As usual, Wondry does a fabulous job teaching history.

Christoffer Røskeland
 Feb 1, 2019
Very entertaining and well made!


 Jan 10, 2019

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
Tulsa Race Massacre - The Invasion | 3
00:43:30

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
00:43:38

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
Introducing Inside Star Wars
00:06:20

Heroes, villains, action... all set in a galaxy far, far away. Join Inside Star Wars and go behind the camera and find out how one of the most iconic series in film history came to be. Listen now at: http://wondery.fm/ISWED

May 30, 2019
Tulsa Race Massacre - The Promised Land | 1
00:52:30

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 | 3
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
J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI - Humanizing History with David McCullough | 7
00:38:06

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
Sponsored | American Epidemics - 1989 and The Hot Zone | 2
00:41:55

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. That year, the killer virus suddenly appeared in monkeys in a scientific research lab in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Jaax, a heroic U.S. Army scientist, puts her life on the line to head off the outbreak before it spreads to the human population.

In this episode, Julianna Margulies, the Golden Globe and Emmy award winning actor, shares what it was like to play Dr. Nancy Jaax and why she thinks it's important to tell the stories of epidemics — and the people on the front lines who fight them. We’re also joined by Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders, executive producers and showrunners of The Hot Zone.


May 17, 2019
J. Edgar Hoover's FBI - Citizens Resistance | 6
00:44:15

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
Actor Justin Long Gets Personal on "Life is Short"
00:08:08

Life is Short with Justin Long finds the actor sitting down with some of the funniest and most intriguing people of today, like Dax Shepard, Olivia Wilde and Neil Patrick Harris. No topics are out of bounds, and no questions are too personal. Subscribe to Life is Short with Justin Long and start listening at wondery.fm/lifeisshort

May 13, 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 10, 2019
J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI - Black Bag Job | 5
00:42:32

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
00:43:52

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
00:38:41

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
00:37:41

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
00:36:32

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
00:47:14

“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
00:40:53

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
00:41:53

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
00:42:14

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
Introducing Unknown History: 75 Years Since D-Day
00:15:18

This year marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the longest day in military history. For the first time, you can hear perspectives on the conflict from all sides on the podcast Unknown History. Bestselling historian Giles Milton shares stories from pilots, sailors, soldiers and bystanders. Subscribe at bit.ly/ddaypod.

Mar 08, 2019
The Great Depression - A New Deal | 3
00:45:42

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
00:43:12

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.


You can find new episodes of American History Tellers, completely ad-free, only on Stitcher Premium. For a free month of Stitcher Premium, go to stitcherpremium.com/wondery and use promo code ‘WONDERY’.

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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.

Feb 20, 2019
Does History Repeat Itself? | 4
00:39:42

"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
00:43:38

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.

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
Lindsay Graham's Newest Podcast: 1865
00:11:54

April 15, 1865. President Lincoln is dead and the country in turmoil. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton takes control, determined to bring the assassin to justice.

Heavily researched, this historical political thriller is an audio drama that explores America’s darkest hours. The story is astonishing—and all of it is based on true events.

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'.



Dec 03, 2018
History of the Lincoln Motor Company | 9
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.


Dec 01, 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
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
Introducing Legal Wars | 9
00:10:04

The courtroom can be a battlefield over money, people’s rights, and even their lives. For some cases, the consequences can affect us long after the verdict is read.


Based on extensive interviews and court transcripts, Wondery’s new podcast LEGAL WARS puts you inside the jury box of some of the most famous court cases in American history. Subscribe to Legal Wars today at www.wondery.fm/legalwars


Oct 11, 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
00:40:40

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:

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Sep 12, 2018
National Parks - The Great Disaster | 4
00:42:21

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
00:39:25

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
00:39:46

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
00:44:31

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!

Stay tuned, we'll be back with our new series all about National Parks next week.

Aug 08, 2018
Revolution | The Populist | 6
00:40:38

Millions immigrated to the United States after it's 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
00:38:50

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
00:41:17

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
00:39:05

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
00:42:42

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.

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Jul 04, 2018
Revolution | The Virginia Planter | 1
00:39:05

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
00:42:17

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
00:43:29

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
00:43:05

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
00:41:43

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
00:42:14

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
00:43:13

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
00:45:05

“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
00:39:19

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
00:39:44

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
Bonus | Age of Jackson Recap | 4
00:10:49

Catch up on what we covered in The Age of Jackson. New episodes of American History Tellers come out every Wednesday.

Apr 18, 2018
The Age of Jackson | King Mob | 3
00:37:05

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
00:36:02

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
00:39:07

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 | 8
00:35:50

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 | 7
00:38:40

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 | 6
00:39:08

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 | 5
00:35:39

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
Bonus | Prohibition Recap | 4
00:15:47

It's another bonus episode of American History Tellers! Missed episodes 1-3? You can catch up here. If you already listened to those episodes, you may hear something new...

Feb 26, 2018
Prohibition - Speakeasy | 3
00:34:41

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
00:33:08

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
00:40:20

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 | 8
00:48:30

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 | 7
00:42:31

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 | 6
00:41:01

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
Bonus | The Cold War Recap | 5
00:25:11

Welcome to a special bonus episode of American History Tellers! We wanted to remind you what we covered in Episodes 1 through 4, so if you’re new to this show, welcome! If you’re all caught up (gold star for you!) then you can skip right on to Episode 5.

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.


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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
00:40:29

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 | 1
00:02:30

American History Tellers. Our History, Your Story

Premieres January 3rd.

Dec 13, 2017