The American Story

By Christopher Flannery

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Category: History

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Subscribers: 116
Reviews: 2

 Jan 19, 2021
Love it!

John Martin
 Jan 1, 2021
These little nuggets that describe the American story and our character are so thoughtfully delivered. These stories make me proud of our history and how we overcame the numerous obstacles that have faced our nation.


Every generation of Americans has been faced with the same question: how should we live? Our endlessly interesting answers have created The American Story. The weekly episodes published here stretch from battlefields and patriot graves to back roads, school yards, bar stools, city halls, blues joints, summer afternoons, old neighborhoods, ball parks, and deserted beaches—everywhere you find Americans being and becoming American. They are true stories about what it is that makes America beautiful, what it is that makes America good and therefore worthy of love. Each episode aims in some small way to awaken the better angels of our nature, to welcome us into and encourage us to enrich the great American story.

Episode Date
The Anti-slavery Constitution [3 of 3]

Among the many challenges to the statesmanship of the framers of the Constitution, none was more fundamental or intractable than the problem of slavery. On August 21 the Constitutional Convention, meeting in Independence Hall in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, officially took up a provision that forbade the Congress they were designing forever to tax or prohibit the importation of slaves anywhere in the United States. Heated discussion erupted immediately.

Jul 20, 2021
Anti-slavery Declaration [2 of 3]

Jefferson drafted the Declaration, a committee reviewed it, corrections were made, and on July 2-4, Congress—in the midst of much other pressing business of fighting a war—edited it into the final form. They made important changes, including deletion of a passage denouncing the king of Great Britain for imposing the slave trade on America. This deleted passage sheds light on the meaning of America’s central idea, that “all men are created equal.”

Jul 13, 2021
Anti-slavery Revolution [1 of 3]

Slavery has been around since the beginning of human history. It was practiced among the native peoples of north America before and after Europeans arrived, and it was legal in every American colony in the years prior to the American Revolution. Then a great historic change began, a revolution in the hearts and minds of the British colonists that would eventually make them Americans. This revolution was at its heart an anti-slavery movement.

Jul 06, 2021
Independence Forever!

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams celebrate their last Fourth of July.

Jun 29, 2021
Our Finest Hour

America’s greatest enemy is not the Chinese or the Russians, or some other foreign tyranny—though they might indeed kill us if we continue so fecklessly to defend ourselves. But what will they kill? The body of a country that has lost its soul, unless we do something about it. Our greatest enemy is the bad ideas that have miseducated Americans so thoroughly for so long that many of us have forgotten what it means to be a free people.

Jun 22, 2021
Why We Fight

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army General George Marshall asked film director Frank Capra to create films for the 8 million men, many of whom had never seen a gun, who were being uprooted from civilian life, thrown into army camps, and sent to war. Marshall wanted Capra to make “a series of documented, factual-information films – the first in our history – that will explain to our boys in the army why we are fighting and the principles for which we are fighting.”

Jun 15, 2021
Epic of the Eternal Frontier

The Hollywood Western was a great achievement of American popular art—an epic of the eternal frontier, where trouble is always brewing and everything is at stake: the law is out of town, and if a hero doesn’t ride into your valley, you’re going to lose the things you hold most dear. On the eternal frontier, we are always faced with the problem of establishing and securing justice and peace. Because establishing justice and peace is a pressing and permanent human problem, the classic Western is eternally interesting. 

Jun 08, 2021
Ride the High Country

The classic Western novel Shane opens in a valley in Wyoming Territory in 1889. Trouble is brewing. The local big cattleman is finding the homesteaders a nuisance. He wants the whole range for his own uses and is bent on driving them out, whatever it takes. The land is theirs by right of settlement and guaranteed by the government, but the nearest marshal is a hundred miles away. Then a lone rider, Shane, rides into the valley. 

Jun 01, 2021
Known But to God

More than 4 million visitors come to Arlington National Cemetery every year from across America and around the world and, unless they have their own personal visit to make, the thing they most want to do is to climb the hill to the high ground of the Memorial Amphitheater and visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

May 25, 2021
God’s in His Heaven

Twenty-Twenty seems to have spread like a virus into 2021. A third of the way through the year and still across the country citizens bludgeoned into isolation, locked in their homes by the latest mandate, huddled around computer screens and cell phones hour by hour awaiting announcement of the next tribulation. It was too much to take in; disorienting to the soul. We fled in desperation to the free state of Florida.

May 18, 2021
A Rose on Lincoln’s Grave

Sports fairly practiced—especially individual sports—are a great meritocracy revealing, for all the world to see, the beauty of excellence. In American history, sports have also been an arena for the working out of the great American principle of “liberty to all.” Only by living up to this principle, which is the measure of America, is it possible for sports or any other pursuit to take a just measure of human greatness. Enter boxing great Joe Louis. This episode is in memory of Patrick J. Garrity.

May 11, 2021
I Kiss the Ground

One of America’s greatest and most beloved film directors, Frank Capra, was just six years old when he arrived in New York on a steamer from Sicily with his poor Italian immigrant parents in 1903. Growing up, he worked hard, excelled in school, and fell in love with American freedom and the American common man giving us such films as “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” 

May 04, 2021
Miracle on Ice

It is somehow always the best of times and the worst of times; but the winter of 1980 in America felt like it had more than its share of the worst. Unemployment was high; inflation was raging. An energy crisis produced gas rationing. Iran was holding 50 Americans hostage. President Carter said the nation seemed to be in a “moral and spiritual crisis.” Then, from a most unexpected place, America and the free world received a bit of good cheer. It came in the form of a young hockey team.

Apr 27, 2021
The Great Author of America

Why “the finest Shakespeare collection in the world” is in Washington, D.C.

Apr 20, 2021
We Are All Americans

Ely Parker was born in 1828 to Elizabeth and William Parker of the Tonawanda Seneca tribe of the Iroquois confederacy in western New York. Parker became a leader in his tribe at a very young age, trained as a civil engineer, and earned himself a reputation in that field. In 1857, when he was 29 years old, he moved to Galena, Illinois as a civil engineer working for the treasury department, and there his life took a fateful turn. He became friends with a fellow named Ulysses S. Grant.

Apr 13, 2021
Purple Mountain Majesties

This story is about a teacher from a college in the East who was inspired by her travels West, especially by her experience summiting Pikes Peak, to write a poem that became an American anthem. 

Apr 06, 2021
A Decent Respect

The “real American Revolution,” as John Adams said, took place in the minds and hearts of the American people in the years leading up to 1776. This Revolution of thought gave birth to a Revolution of words and deeds; and Revolutionary thought, word, and deed together became the American Founding, a “human event” unsurpassed in the history of the world. This Founding remains eternally the earthly source of all America’s blessings of liberty. It is also America’s eternal earthly measure of itself.

Mar 30, 2021
Michael Patrick Murphy

This episode is about an American warrior and the warship that carries on his name. The ship and her crew operate in more than 48 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The area is more than 14 times the size of the continental United States; it includes 36 maritime countries, 50% of the world’s population, and the world’s 5 largest foreign armed forces.

Mar 23, 2021
Field Photo Farm

Late in 1939, the eminent Hollywood movie director John Ford, who happened also to be an officer in the Naval Reserve, began organizing and training what became the Eleventh Naval District Motion Picture and Still Photographic Group. Their mission would be to record on film the history of the war that was coming. From Pearl Harbor to VJ-Day, Ford and his crews traveled the world, from Midway, to North Africa, to Normandy, documenting the great battles of the war, often heroically.

Mar 16, 2021
Battle Hymn of the Republic

It’s not every day that a poet sits down and writes a poem that becomes a national hymn. But that’s what happened to Julia Ward Howe in November 1861. The country was a year and a half into the Civil War when she and her husband visited Union Army camps with a friend, passing time in the carriage singing army marching songs, including the popular “John Brown’s Body.” The friend suggested that Mrs. Howe consider writing her own, more elevated, lyrics to the song. And she did.

Mar 09, 2021
Beauty and Brains

Hedy Lamarr was born to Jewish parents in Austria in 1914. She became an actress and married by the time she was 20. In 1937, she escaped her domineering husband and rising anti-Semitism in Europe, and made her way to America, where she became a Hollywood star celebrated as the most beautiful woman in the world. During WWII, in hopes of aiding America’s war effort, Hedy invented a technology that would eventually be used in cell phones, GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. She had beauty and brains in spades.

Mar 02, 2021
Paul Revere’s Ride

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow has been called, “the most popular poet in American history.” When Longfellow wrote, few Americans remained who had a living memory of the American Revolution. With his poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride” he succeeded in preserving part of that heroic memory in verse for many generations to come, the way Homer did for ancient Greeks, or Shakespeare for Englishmen in more recent times.

Feb 23, 2021
The Right Stuff

Chuck Yeager was born in West Virginia in 1923, was shooting and skinning squirrels and rabbits for family dinners by the time he was six, flying fighter planes in WWII by the time he was twenty, flew 127 missions during the Vietnam War, retired as a highly decorated brigadier general in 1975, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But what made Chuck Yeager famous was something he did between wars, as a test pilot.

Feb 16, 2021
Sail On!

A poem comes to a poet, and he sends it orphaned out into the world, to take its chances. It never knows who or what it might inspire or how it might become part of the world it has stepped into. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “The Building of the Ship” made its way from schoolboys to Lincoln to Roosevelt to Churchill and the world. It continues to inspire lovers of liberty everywhere.

Feb 09, 2021
To See the Right

By July 1776, American revolutionary John Dickinson maintained that he did not entertain any doubt whether America should declare independence, only when. He opposed, in his words, “only the time of the declaration, and not independence itself.” His reasons for this opposition were weighty, well-considered, and shared by many. For one last time, he presented those reasons to his fellow delegates in the Continental Congress.

Feb 02, 2021
Honor and Oblivion

Only devoted students of history have heard of him, but in the years leading up to the American Declaration of Independence, John Dickinson, next to Benjamin Franklin, was probably the most famous American. He was renowned as a champion of American rights and liberty. His writings during this period did more than any others to defend and define the American Cause. But one decision would cast Dickinson from fame into obscurity.

Jan 26, 2021
Sergeant York

Sergeant York, the highest-grossing movie of 1941, opened in American theaters in July and was still playing after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7. A biographical film starring Gary Cooper as the WWI hero Alvin York, it would receive 11 Oscar nominations and win two. Young men went directly from watching the movie in theaters to the enlistment offices, to sign up for the war that had just come to America. And the hero who inspired them to join the fight was a man of peace. 

Jan 19, 2021
Proclamation: American New Year 1863

On New Year’s Day 1863, President Lincoln signed the proclamation he had promised a hundred days before. Lincoln understood better than anyone the constitutional challenges to emancipation. He took the greatest care to draft the proclamation in terms that could be defended before the highest court in the land. Then in the last weeks of his life, he “left no means unapplied” to getting the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery, approved by Congress.

Jan 12, 2021
Silver Markers on a Pew: American New Year 1942

January 1, 1942 had been set aside by President Roosevelt as a Day of Prayer. He had good reason for doing this; it was a dark time. The Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor just a few weeks before. Then Hitler declared war on the United States. America was suddenly at war with the greatest military powers in Europe and in Asia. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was Roosevelt’s guest at the White House for strategic discussions. They spent a memorable, and very American, New Year’s Day together.

Jan 05, 2021
The Fate of Liberty: American New Year 1777

From August to the last week of December, as David McCullough writes, “1776 had been as dark a time as those devoted to the American Cause had ever known.” As the year ended, despite the stunning and historic victory at Trenton the day after Christmas, there was good reason to fear that Washington’s army would dissolve and with it any hopes for the American Cause. Washington pleaded with the men to stay on another month. The fate of liberty depended on them.

Dec 29, 2020
Victory or Death: American Christmas 1776

By summer 1776, the most powerful navy in the world was conveying the greatest British expeditionary force in history across the ocean to suppress the American rebellion. George Washington’s ragtag Continental Army seemed no match for this great force. They suffered one defeat after another. Winter was coming on. Enlistments would expire at the end of the year. On December 20, Washington wrote Congress: “10 days more will put an end to the existence of this army.”

Dec 22, 2020
John Wayne

John Wayne began life as Marion Morrison in Winterset, Iowa. After his family made its way to L.A., and an injury sidelined him from USC football, he began working full-time as a prop man for movie studios. His natural strength, good spirit, good looks, and determination carried him through nearly a decade of B-movies before he became a star. Thirty-five years after his death, he was still listed as one of America’s five favorite movie stars; he became “indivisibly associated with America itself.”

Dec 15, 2020
War and Peace

Among the countless millions of human events postponed, rescheduled, or cancelled in the long hard year 2020, one was a gathering scheduled for an eight square mile volcanic island in the Pacific Ocean. The gathering was to be a “Reunion of Honor” commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Dec 08, 2020
Relics and Reverence

Abigail Adams recorded that when her husband and Thomas Jefferson visited Shakespeare’s birthplace, Jefferson fell upon the ground and kissed it and John Adams cut a chip from Shakespeare’s chair. Jefferson and Adams both revered Shakespeare, as did Abigail, and they all understood how necessary it was for a free people to revere what deserves reverence. As this story shows, they also understood that true reverence needs to be complemented by good humored irreverence.

Dec 01, 2020
To Give or Not To Give . . . Thanks

Every president since Lincoln has issued a Thanksgiving proclamation every year, but on September 25, 1789, when the U.S. House of Representatives had only been operating for about six months, not everyone was sure that Thanksgiving was a good idea.

Nov 24, 2020
Thank God for being an American

P.G. Wodehouse was one of the best writers in the English language in the 20th century and the funniest. He wrote nearly 100 delightful books, each one of which in perfectly orchestrated sentences, can make you fall laughing out of your beach chair. He became an American citizen in 1955, wrote an autobiography titled “America, I like you.” Read anything Wodehouse. You won’t regret it.

Nov 17, 2020
For the Troops

USO stands for United Service Organizations, and it is a beautiful gem of American history and American civic life. It was created in early 1941, when America had not yet entered World War II, but could feel the day coming when it must. Since then they have been working to support our service members from enlistment to deployment and through transitioning back to their communities.

Nov 10, 2020
Bullets for Ballots: 1860 (3 of 3)

Until the election of 1860, the truths proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence had been the ground of American civic friendship, above all the central truth that all men are created equal. Fidelity to this most American idea held the country together through many divisions since 1776. The Confederate States rejected that idea. America had lost the foundation for civic peace. Ballots gave way to bullets.

Nov 02, 2020
Ballots for Bullets: 1800 (2 of 3)

The election of 1800 in America came after a decade of bitter and extreme party strife. Each side accused the other of aiming to overthrow the Constitution and preparing the way for tyranny. There was no precedent, including the experience of 1776, for resolving such differences without appealing to bullets. But ballots prevailed and power was transferred peacefully between uncompromisingly hostile political rivals for the first time in human history.

Oct 27, 2020
Bullets and Ballots: 1776

Americans are being reminded how fragile and precious an achievement it is to establish the legitimate authority of government through peaceful and free elections. But there would be no ballots without the bullets of 1776. We hold elections in America because, as the Declaration of Independence says, we think “the just powers of government are derived from the consent of the governed.” But what divided the American people from the British Crown and Parliament in 1776 could not be decided by a vote alone.

Oct 20, 2020
One for the Road

Streets and roads are very different animals. Willie Nelson sang, “I just can’t wait to get on the road again.” No one ever sang, “I just can’t wait to get on the street again.” Songs about country roads hold spacious truths because whether they are red dirt roads or roads with seven bridges, country roads are rich with the mysteries of life.

Oct 13, 2020
Like a Soldier

Marlene Dietrich was born in Berlin in 1901. In 1930, her performance in the film The Blue Angel made her a star. She moved to Hollywood, starred in six films, one of which earned her an Oscar nomination. Many more films would follow. She refused lucrative contracts from Nazi Party officials to be the leading film star of the Third Reich, became an American citizen in 1939, and devoted herself to doing all she could for American troops during World War II.

Oct 06, 2020
First Man of the Universe

Benjamin Franklin ran away at seventeen with barely a penny in his pocket. Through hard work and his own genius, he made a life for himself in the printing trade, and was able to retire at the age of 42. He then spent the next 42 years of his life, from 1748 to 1790, pursuing his scientific and philosophic inquiries and doing all he could—and this was a very great deal—to benefit his city, state, country, and world. By the time of his death, he was one of the most famous people in the world.

Sep 29, 2020
Catching Excellence

The son of an Italian immigrant, Vincent Thomas Lombardi was born in Brooklyn on June 11, 1913. He played guard in the famed Seven Blocks of Granite offensive line of Fordham University in the 1930s before going on to become one of the greatest coaches of all time in any sport. His name is synonymous with winning. His steadfast spirit inspired the nation.

Sep 22, 2020
Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver

The Declaration’s great American proclamation that “all men are created equal” and the first three words of the Constitution—“We the People”—are profoundly connected. The relation between these two ideas—equality and consent—is the vital center of American political freedom.

Sep 15, 2020
The Real American Revolution

We are not born understanding what it means to be an American, understanding the idea of political freedom, or knowing about the American Revolution. We have to learn these things. If we don’t, the American Revolution, political freedom, and Americans will vanish from the earth.

Sep 08, 2020
Ninety Percent Mental

Great American philosopher, Lorenzo Pietro Berra, more commonly known as Yogi Berra, was a baseball legend. As a player with the New York Yankees, he won Ten World Series championships, with 18 All-Star games, three Most Valuable Player Awards, 358 home runs and 1,430 runs batted in, which earned him a place in the Hall of Fame. After his playing career, he was one of a handful of managers to reach the World Series in both leagues. But Yogi Berra is best known for —Yogi-isms.

Sep 01, 2020
As Time Goes By

One of the most popular films in Hollywood history, “Casablanca” seems to be composed of one famous line after another. For over 75 years, it has inspired us to stand up and sing in defiance of tyranny and on behalf of the cause of freedom.

Aug 25, 2020
The Course of Human Events

Billy Fiske was “the first U.S. citizen to join the Royal Air Force and the first American pilot killed in action during the war in Europe” in World War II. He was a New Yorker who had lived some years in Europe and who had won Olympic gold medals in the sport of bobsledding. He was a graduate of Cambridge University, and he told his British friends in the 1930s as they all could see the storm gathering in Europe, that if war came, “I want to be in it with you–from the start.”

Aug 18, 2020
Known but to God

More than 4 million visitors come to the Arlington National Cemetery every year from across America and around the world and, unless they have their own personal visit to make, the thing they most want to do is to climb the hill to the high ground of the Memorial Amphitheater and visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Aug 11, 2020

What makes Gettysburg America’s most hallowed ground? A delegation of Russian historians at the height of the Cold War seemed to know, when American historians had forgotten.

Aug 04, 2020
This Was a Man

Frederick Bailey was born into slavery in 1818. With determination, courage, some help from others, and good luck, he managed to escape to freedom when he was 20 years old. He made his way to Massachusetts, gave himself a new name, Frederick Douglass, started working as a free man and very soon gave a triumphant first speech to an abolitionist group, which launched him on a career as an anti-slavery speaker and writer.

Jul 28, 2020
Man’s Best Friend

America takes pride in being a land of opportunity—for everyone, including those who suffer the impairments of nature, accident, or tragedy. For those with disabilities, local communities can be supportive. Smart technology can assist. Government can do some things to give them a hand up. Above all, there is the spirit and determination of the individual. And for the blind, there are — guide dogs.

Jul 21, 2020

An old friend of mine has written a book, a very good and deeply learned book, about America. The book is about those truths and the blessings that flow from them, that extend across and bind together generations of Americans in noble civic friendship.

Jul 14, 2020
Pony Express to GPS

In 1861, the young Mark Twain set out on a great American adventure, a stagecoach ride from St. Joe, Missouri to Carson City in Nevada Territory. Today, he would ride in an SUV guided by a factory-installed GPS system. The adventure would be even greater!

Jul 07, 2020
Independence Forever!

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams celebrate their last Fourth of July.

Jun 30, 2020
An Ace You Can Keep

Most of us understand the language of poker, even if we’ve never played. We know what a “poker face” is, what it means to be “all in” or to “have an ace up your sleeve.” Since Kenny Rogers’s 1978 hit song “The Gambler,” millions of Americans have been singing about poker. It is very much a game of the American West. It has the frontier spirit in it, and it is somehow about life and death and everything in between.

Jun 23, 2020
American Names

A poem comes to a poet, and he sends it orphaned out into the world, to take its chances. It never knows who or what it might inspire or how it might become part of the world it has stepped into. Stephen Vincent Benet sent his poem, “American Names,” out into the world in 1927. Years later the first line inspired a hit song for a new movie. The last line became the title of a best-selling book, then of a song and a movie. All this and more, unexpectedly, from a couple of lines from an orphaned poem.

Jun 16, 2020
The Club

The Literary Club of Cincinnati was founded on October 29, 1849 and is—as far as I know—the oldest continuously operating Literary Club in America. Members come from all professions and persuasions; what brings them together is their abiding regard for the written word. Attending one of their Monday evening gatherings reminds one how essential private clubs and “associations” have always been to American democracy.

Jun 09, 2020
How Sleep the Brave

Back in that spring and summer of 1775, when he was just seven years old and the War for Independence swirled around him and his family, John Quincy Adams remembered, “[my mother] taught me to repeat daily after the Lord’s prayer [the Ode of Collins] before rising from bed.”

Jun 02, 2020
Hallowed Ground

It’s true that memory rests lightly on Los Angeles. But turn east from Sepulveda Boulevard just north of Wilshire onto Constitution Avenue, and you immediately recede from the goings and comings of the eternal present and enter a sanctuary of remembrance.

May 25, 2020
Last Hand

It is hard to know where facts give way to legend in the case of Wild Bill; but some of the things he did in truth, as a frontiersman and lawman, may have exceeded the legends or at least deserved to become legends. The case of Wild Bill seems custom made for the immortal and mystifying words of the editor of the Shinbone Star, in the classic John Ford film “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence”: “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

May 19, 2020
“Make Cakes!”

During peak hours, in the 300 block of Brand Boulevard in the city of Glendale, in what is called “Metropolitan Los Angeles,” you might see a line of eager people making their way into Porto’s Bakery & Café. You might see a similar scene in Buena Park, Burbank, Downey, or West Covina. Porto’s is a many-splendored gift to the Southland. And it’s not just the empanadas; it’s the spirit of freedom and enterprise. Rosa and Raul Porto and their children brought this gift to America from Cuba a lifetime ago.

May 12, 2020
Fingertip Memories

Helen Keller was 14 years old when she first met the world-famous Mark Twain in 1894. They became fast friends for life. Keller, who was deaf and blind, loved to listen to Twain tell his stories by putting her fingers to his lips. As she said of Twain, “He knew that we do not think with eyes and ears, and that our capacity for thought is not measured by five senses. He kept me always in mind while he talked, and he treated me like a competent human being. That is why I loved him.”

May 05, 2020
The Man of Steel

Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive…The Man of Steel fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.

Apr 28, 2020
Our Greatest Poet

When you read Abraham Lincoln, you somehow become more than yourself, you become better. And his words want to be read aloud, too. Start with the Second Inaugural—so beautiful—and the Gettysburg Address—his short ones. They are American poems.

Apr 15, 2020
Number 42

Each year on April 15, all players in Major League Baseball turn in their regular uniforms and wear one adorned with the number 42. On no other day does any player wear that number; it has been permanently retired. This custom, unique in North American professional sports, has been adopted to honor a man who not only changed a sport, but helped change a country.

Apr 14, 2020
El Pueblo y el Hombre

The detective hero, and the detective novel, are not an American invention. But a few authors like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler made them as American as apple pie. The attitude of Chandler’s hard-edged, soft-hearted, wise-cracking hero and the atmosphere of Chandler’s Los Angeles were as unmistakably American as Humphrey Bogart, who played Marlowe in the 1946 film version of Chandler’s The Big Sleep.

Apr 07, 2020
Of Birds and Potatoes

If you need a little poetry in your life—and who doesn’t?—Billy Collins can be a good place to start. Collins writes unblushingly to attract new readers to poetry and to encourage those who have given up to come back. And he is famously funny. So much so that, because he reads his poems so amusingly and his readings have been so successful and well-attended, he has been called—not always as a compliment—a “stand-up poet.”

Mar 31, 2020
Michael Patrick Murphy
This episode is about an American warship that carries on the name and the work of an American warrior. The ship and her crew operate in more than 48 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The area is more than 14 times the size of the continental United States; it includes 36 maritime countries, 50% of the world’s population, and the world’s 5 largest foreign armed forces.
Mar 24, 2020
On the Way to BB’s

If you are walking down Broadway in St. Louis on your way to BB’s Jazz, Blues, and Soups, you will awaken to many American memories, among them a poem you probably already knew.

Mar 17, 2020
Standin’ on a Corner

Things happen to a town, and then it’s never the same. Or it’s the same in some new way. Whatever it was before, it’s hard to think of it now without the new thing. Like the Parthenon in Athens or the Statue of Liberty in New York. It comes along and suddenly forever it is part of the identity of the town it came into. In the case of this town, it was a song. Or a few lines from a song.

Mar 10, 2020
Bravest of the Brave

When you visit the historic Mound Cemetery in Marietta, Ohio, the guidebook informs you that, in addition to the ancient burial mound, the cemetery “contains more Revolutionary War officers’ graves than any other graveyard in the United States.”

Mar 03, 2020
Charlie Brown

There is more of Charlie Brown in most of us than there is Abraham Lincoln or Michael Jordan. We identify with his failures and suffer with him. But it isn’t just his failures. Charlie Brown is resilient. He never quits. Despite setbacks and moments of despair, he is at heart an optimist — and one of America’s greatest success stories.

Feb 25, 2020
Beautiful Goodness

As a Captain of Volunteers in the Black Hawk War, the 23-year old Abraham Lincoln managed in a desperate moment to keep some hard-bitten men—who had elected him—from committing murder. They had chosen him as captain because he was the best man among them, the one most worthy of their esteem. Lincoln earned it in no small part by outrunning, outboxing, and outwrestling them, but they knew, when they listened to the better angels of their natures, that there were much more important reasons to esteem him.

Feb 18, 2020
Skunk Works

Beginning in a rented circus tent, a team of unconventional aeronautical engineers design generations of American military aircraft

Feb 11, 2020
The Great Houdini

The young Ehrich Weiss needed money, but he lived for fame. By the time he was 17, he had decided how to get it—he would become Houdini. 

Feb 04, 2020
Call Me Sam

A boy from a village in India makes his way to America and finds a bit of heaven on earth

Jan 28, 2020
One More for Chesty

What is it that makes a Marine’s Marine?

Jan 21, 2020
The American Dream

About the standard by which Americans judge the success and failure of their experiment in self-government

Jan 14, 2020
Just Kit Carson

“He looked as if he would know exactly what to do, if awakened suddenly in the night, ready for anything”

Jan 07, 2020
Freedom of the Mind

This story is the seventh in a series of seven about an immigrant boy who became my good friend and holds a special place in the history of the Claremont Institute. Let’s begin by daring to question the prevailing dogmas of our time, to open our minds to all times

Dec 31, 2019
The Art of Teaching

This story is the sixth in a series of seven about an immigrant boy who became my good friend and holds a special place in the history of the Claremont Institute. They learned from this Hungarian immigrant that they are the fortunate of the earth and that their great good fortune lies in the country into which they were born

Dec 31, 2019
Totus Porcus

This story is the fifth in a series of seven about an immigrant boy who became my good friend and holds a special place in the history of the Claremont Institute. I never knew so much hog in a man

Dec 24, 2019
A Little Academe

This story is the fourth in a series of seven about an immigrant boy who became my good friend and holds a special place in the history of the Claremont Institute. He always regarded the human mind as free to be determined by the truth about the greatest questions

Dec 24, 2019
Of Oranges and Shakespearean Dreams

This story is the third in a series of seven about an immigrant boy who became my good friend and holds a special place in the history of the Claremont Institute. For the rest of his life, oranges would always smell like freedom

Dec 24, 2019
The Crisis of Man

This story is the second in a series of seven about an immigrant boy who became my good friend and holds a special place in the history of the Claremont Institute. It was spring, 1946, and Albert Camus was in New York City on the only visit he would ever make to America

Dec 24, 2019
Born American

This story is the first in a series of seven about an immigrant boy who became my good friend and holds a special place in the history of the Claremont Institute. “Why are we going to America?” . . . “We were born American, but in the wrong place”

Dec 24, 2019
All of You on the Good Earth

President Kennedy told a special joint session of Congress that it was “time for a great new American Enterprise”

Dec 17, 2019
Go West!

The Oregon Trail was the superhighway of the early American West

Dec 10, 2019
Simple Truth

The Congress of the United States named him “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen”

Dec 03, 2019
Teddy Ballgame

If there was ever a real-life John Wayne — or the character Wayne played so well — it was Ted Williams

Nov 26, 2019
An Evening on the Benjamin Franklin

John Quincy Adams and a pioneer reflect on the Northwest Territory and American freedom

Nov 19, 2019

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." This episode is in loving memory of Merle Whitis.

Nov 12, 2019
Daring Young Men in Their Flying Machines

How airmail became woven into the fabric of American life

Nov 05, 2019
The Greatness of Washington

"Our history is but a transcript of his claims on our gratitude”

Oct 29, 2019
One Iron

Ben Hogan and “the purest stroke I’ve ever seen”

Oct 22, 2019
The Great Author of America

Why “the finest Shakespeare collection in the world” is in Washington, D.C

Oct 15, 2019
We Are All Americans

“Savage Jack Falstaff” meets Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House

Oct 08, 2019
Broomsticks at Happy Time

American victory in World War II was far from preordained

Oct 01, 2019
What's Love Got to Do with It?

To be willing to lose your life for your country.

Sep 24, 2019
O Captain, My Captain!

Young Abraham Lincoln does some good in the Blackhawk War.

Sep 16, 2019
Independence Forever!

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams celebrate their last Fourth of July.

Sep 16, 2019
Number 42

Why everyone in Major League Baseball wears that number every April 15

Sep 16, 2019
The Great Depression and the Cowboy Philosopher

A little humor can help get a country through hard times.

Sep 16, 2019
America the Beautiful

The American Dream, The California Dream, and the City of Dreams

Sep 13, 2019