Cover art for podcast Ben Franklin's World

Ben Franklin's World

311 EpisodesProduced by Liz CovartWebsite

This is a show about early American history. Awarded Best History Podcast by the Academy of Podcasters in 2017, it’s for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world. Each episode features conve… read more

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296 Serena Zabin, The Boston Massacre: A Family History

March 2nd, 2021


Is there anything more we can know about well-researched and reported events like the Boston Massacre?

Are there new ways of looking at oft-taught events that can help us see new details about them, even 250 years after …

295 Ibrahima Seck, Whitney Plantation Museum

February 16th, 2021


What does it take to create a museum? How can a museum help visitors grapple with a very uncomfortable aspect of their nation’s past?

Ibrahima Seck, a member of the History Department at the University Cheikh Anta Diop …

294 Mary Beth Norton, 1774: The Long Year of Revolution

February 2nd, 2021


When we think of important years in the history of the American Revolution, we might think of years like 1765 and the Stamp Act Crisis, 1773 and the …

293 Christine Walker, Jamaica Ladies: Female Slaveholding in Jamaica

January 19th, 2021


How did Jamaica grow to become the "crown jewel" of the British Atlantic World?

Part of the answer is that Jamaica’s women served as some of the most …

292 Glenn Adamson, Craft in Early America

January 5th, 2021


What was everyday life like for those who lived in early America?

To understand the everyday lives of early Americans we need to look at the goods they made and how they produced those goods. In essence, nothing …

Bonus: The Plimoth Patuxet and Tomaquag Museums

December 18th, 2020


This episode is a companion episode to the 2-episode World of the Wampanoag series.

This bonus episode allows us to speak with two guests from the …

291 The World of the Wampanoag, Part 2: 1620 and Beyond

December 15th, 2020


Before New England was New England, it was the Dawnland. A region that remains the homeland of numerous Native American peoples, including the …

290 The World of the Wampanoag, Part 1: Before 1620

December 8th, 2020


Before New England was New England, it was the Dawnland. A region that remains the homeland of numerous Native American peoples, including the Wampanoag.

Over the next two episodes, we’ll explore the World of the …

289 Marcus Nevius, Maroonage in the Great Dismal Swamp

November 24th, 2020


The name “Great Dismal Swamp” doesn’t evoke an image of a pleasant or beautiful place, and yet, it was an important place that offered land …

288 Tyson Reeder, Smugglers & Patriots in the 18th-Century Atlantic

November 10th, 2020


In what ways did the Atlantic World contribute to the American Revolution?

Empire, slavery, and constant warfare interacted with each other in the …

Our History Has Always Been Spoken: Trailer for Massachusetts, 1620 Series

November 6th, 2020


Join the Omohundro Institute and Mass Humanities for a special two-episode series about the World of the Wampanoag before and after 1620. The Wampanoag’s history has always been spoken. Hear it on Ben Franklin’s World …

Bonus. Listener Q&A: The Early History of the United States Congress

October 30th, 2020


This special bonus episode previews the Ben Franklin's World Subscription program and its monthly bonus episode for program subscribers.

In this bonus episode, Historian of the United States House of Representatives …

287 Elections in Early America: Presidential Elections & the Electoral College

October 27th, 2020


For four months during the summer of 1787, delegates from the thirteen states met in Philadelphia to craft a revised Constitution that would define …

286 Elections in Early America: Native Sovereignty

October 20th, 2020


Who is American democracy for and who could participate in early American democracy?

Women and African Americans were often barred from voting in …

285 Elections in Early America: Elections & Voting in the Early American Republic

October 13th, 2020


Independence from Great Britain provided the former British American colonists the opportunity to create a new, more democratic government than they …

284 Elections in Early America: Democracy & Voting in British North America

October 6th, 2020


The British North American colonies formed some of the most democratic governments in the world. But that doesn't mean that all early Americans were …

Bonus: A Brief History of the United States Supreme Court

September 22nd, 2020


On Friday, September 18, 2020, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, died.

Justice Ginsburg's death has …

283 Anne Marie Lane Jonah, Acadie 300

September 22nd, 2020


2020 commemorates the 300th anniversary of French presence on Prince Edward Island. Like much of North America, the Canadian Maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island, and Prince Edward …

282 Vincent Brown, Tacky's Revolt

September 8th, 2020


Between 1760 and 1761, Great Britain witnessed one of the largest slave insurrections in the history of its empire. Although the revolt took place on …

281 Caitlin Rosenthal, The Business of Slavery

August 25th, 2020


We live in an age where big businesses track our shopping habits and in some cases our work habits. But is the age of data new? When did the “age of the spreadsheet” and quantification of habits develop?

Caitlin …

280 Rick Atkinson, The British Are Coming

August 11th, 2020


The American Revolution is embedded in the American character. It’s an event that can tell us who we are, how we came to be who we are, and how we …

279 Lindsay Chervinsky, The Cabinet: Creation of an American Institution

July 28th, 2020


As the first President of the United States, George Washington set many precedents for the new nation. One of the biggest precedents Washington set came in the form of the Cabinet, a body of advisors from across the …

278 Sarah Pearsall, Polygamy: An Early American History

July 14th, 2020


Polygamy is not a practice that often comes to mind when many of us think about early America. But it turns out, polygamy was a ubiquitous practice …

277 Whose Fourth of July?

June 30th, 2020


On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass delivered a speech to an anti-slavery society and he famously asked “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”

In …

Bonus Listener Q & A: Young Benjamin Franklin

June 26th, 2020


This special bonus episode introduces the Ben Franklin's World Subscription program and a new monthly Listener Question & Answer feature for subscribers to that program.

In this preview, award-winning historian Nick …

276 Stephen Fried, Benjamin Rush: Founding Father

June 16th, 2020


Who gets to be a founding father?

“Founding Father” status goes to men who helped found the United States. That means the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, those who led the Continental Army, and the 36 …

275 Ingrid Tague, Pets in Early America

June 2nd, 2020


What kinds of animals did early Americans keep as pets? How did early Americans acquire pets? What kinds of animals did early Americans keep as pets?

274 Alan Gallay, Walter Ralegh: Architect of Empire

May 19th, 2020


What do we know about how and why England came to establish its first permanent colony at Jamestown? And what do we know about the English colony …

273 Victoria Johnson, David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Early Republic

May 5th, 2020


How did Americans learn to establish philanthropic institutions?

Victoria Johnson, an Associate Professor of Urban Policy and Planning at Hunter …

272 Origins of the 11th Amendment

April 21st, 2020


What do you know about the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution?

Caitlin Galante-DeAngelis Hopkins, a Lecturer in the History Department at Harvard University and a former research associate for the

271 BFW Team Favorites: Paul Revere's Ride Through History

December 31st, 2019


On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere rode to Lexington, Massachusetts to spread the alarm that the Regulars were marching. Revere made several important …

270 BFW Team Favorites: Slavery & Freedom in Early Maryland

December 24th, 2019


How do you uncover the life of an enslaved person who left no paper trail?

What can the everyday life of an enslaved person tell us about slavery, how it was practiced, and how some enslaved people made the transition …

269 BFW Team Favorites: One Colonial Woman's World

December 17th, 2019


What was everyday life like for average men and women in early America?

Listeners ask this question more than any other question and today we …

268 BFW Team Favorites: Young Benjamin Franklin

December 10th, 2019


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

Benjamin Franklin serves as a great window on to the early American past because as a man of “variety” he pursued many interests: …

267 Thomas Wickman, Winter in the Early American Northeast

December 3rd, 2019


How did the people of early America experience and feel about winter?

Thomas Wickman, an Associate Professor of History and American Studies at …

266 Johann Neem, Education in Early America

November 26th, 2019


How did early Americans educate their children? How and when did Americans create a formal system of public education?

You sent me these questions for Episode 200: Everyday Life in Early America. You also said you …

265 Lindsay Chervinsky, An Early History of the White House

November 19th, 2019


On July 1, 1790, Congress passed “An Act for Establishing the temporary and permanent Seat of the Government of the United States.” This act …

264 Michael Oberg, The Iroquois, United States, and the Treaty of Canandaigua 1794

November 12th, 2019


The Treaty of Paris 1783 ended the American War for Independence, but it did not bring peace to North America. After 1783, warfare and violence …

263 Sari Altschuler, The Medical Imagination

November 5th, 2019


Did you know that imagination once played a key role in the way Americans understood and practiced medicine?

Sari Altschuler, an Assistant Professor …

262 Interpreting the Fourth Amendment (Doing History 4)

October 29th, 2019


History is an important tool when it comes to understanding American law.

History is what the justices of the United States Supreme Court use when …

261 Creating the Fourth Amendment (Doing History 4)

October 22nd, 2019


The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution doesn’t always make headlines, but it’s an amendment that undergirds foundational rights. It’s also an amendment that can show us a lot about the intertwined nature …

260 Origins of the Bill of Rights (Doing History 4)

October 15th, 2019


How and why did Congress draft the First Ten Amendments to the Constitution?

In the United States, we use the Constitution and Bill of Rights to …

259 The Bill of Rights & How Legal Historians Work (Doing History 4)

October 8th, 2019


Law is all around us. And the basis of American Law comes not only from our early American past, but from our founding documents.

This episode begins our 4th Doing History series. Over the next four episodes, we’ll …

258 Jane Calvert, John Dickinson: Life, Religion, and Politics

October 1st, 2019


The Second Continental Congress voted for independence on July 2, 1776 with 12 colonies and one abstention. The delegation from New York abstained …

257 Catherine O'Donnell, Elizabeth Seton: An Early American Life

September 24th, 2019


What was it like to live as a woman of faith in early republic America? What was it like to live as a Catholic in the early United States?

Catherine …

256 Christian Koot, Mapping Empire in the Chesapeake

September 17th, 2019


How do empires come to be? How are empires made and who makes them? What role do maps play in making empires?

Christian Koot is a Professor of …

255 Martha S. Jones, Birthright Citizenship

September 10th, 2019


Who gets to be a citizen of the United States? How does the United States define who belongs to the nation?

Early Americans asked and grappled with these questions during the earliest days of the early republic.

Martha …

254 Jeffrey Sklansky, The Money Question in Early America

September 3rd, 2019


We read and hear a lot about money. We read and hear about fluctuations in the value of the Dollar, Pound, and Euro, interest rates and who can and …

253 Susan Clair Imbarrato, Life and Revolution in Boston and Grenada

August 27th, 2019


What can a family history tell us about revolutionary and early republic America?

What can the letters of a wife and mother tell us about life in the …

252 Matthew P. Dziennick, The Highland Soldier in North America

August 20th, 2019


Much of early American history comprises stories of empire and how different Native, European, and Euro-American nations vied for control of North …

251 Cameron Strang, Frontiers of Science

August 13th, 2019


What did early Americans think about science? And how did they pursue and develop their knowledge of it?

Cameron Strang, an Assistant Professor of …

250 Virginia, 1619

August 6th, 2019


2019 marks the 400th anniversary of two important events in American History: The creation of the first representative assembly in English North America and the arrival of the first African people in English North …

249 BFW Road Trip: James Monroe's Highland

July 30th, 2019


Between 1789 and 1825, five men would serve as President of the United States. Four of them hailed from Virginia.

Many of us know details about the …

248 BFW Road Trip: National Museum of African American History and Culture

July 23rd, 2019


Not all historians publish their findings about history in books and articles. Some historians convey knowledge about history to the public in public spaces and in public ways.

We conclude the “Doing History: How …

247 BFW Road Trip: Schoharie Crossing

July 16th, 2019


A “little short of madness.” That is how Thomas Jefferson responded when two delegates from New York approached him with the idea to build the Erie Canal in January 1809.

Jefferson’s comment did not discourage New …

246 BFW Road Trip: Château de Ramezay

July 9th, 2019


Did Canada almost join the American Revolution?

Bruno Paul Stenson, a historian and musicologist with the Château de Ramezay historic site in …

245 Celebrating the Fourth

July 2nd, 2019


It wasn’t always fireworks on the fourth.

John Adams predicted Americans would celebrate the Second of July, the day Congress voted in favor of …

244 Kimberly Alexander, Shoe Stories From Early America

June 25th, 2019


There’s a saying that tells us we should walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. It’s a reminder we should practice empathy and try to understand people …

243 Joseph Adelman, Revolutionary Print Networks

June 18th, 2019


For the American Revolution to be successful, it needed ideas people could embrace and methods for spreading those ideas. It also needed ways for …

242 David Young, An Early History of Delaware

June 11th, 2019


Delaware may be the second smallest state in the United States, but it has a BIG, rich history that can tell us much about the history of early America.

David Young, the Executive Director of the Delaware Historical …

241 Molly Warsh, Pearls and the Nature of the Spanish Empire

June 4th, 2019


Spain became the first European power to use the peoples, resources, and lands of the Americas and Caribbean as the basis for its Atlantic Empire.

How did this empire function and what wealth was Spain able to extract …

240 Flora Fraser, Biography and a Biographer's Work

May 28th, 2019


Have you ever had one of those really conversations where the person was so fascinating that you wished the conversation didn’t have to end?

Flora Fraser joins us for one of those conversations. We’ll talk about …

239 Joseph Adelman, Travel and Post in Early America

May 21st, 2019


How did the postal system work in Early America? How did people send mail across the North American colonies and the British Empire?

Joseph Adelman, …

238 Stephen Brumwell, Benedict Arnold

May 14th, 2019


Benedict Arnold is an intriguing figure. He was both a military hero who greatly impacted and furthered the American War for Independence with his …

237 Nora Doyle, Motherhood in Early America

May 7th, 2019


Mother’s Day became a national holiday on May 9, 1914 to honor all of the work mothers do to raise children.

But what precisely is the work that …

236 Daniel Livesay, Mixed-Race Britons and the Atlantic Family

April 30th, 2019


Who do we count as family?

If a relative was born in a foreign place and one of their parents was of a different race? Would they count as family?

235 Jenny Hale Pulsipher, A 17th-Century Native American Life

April 23rd, 2019


What does early America look like if we view it through Native American eyes?

Jenny Hale Pulsipher, an Associate Professor of History at Brigham …

234 Richard Bushman, Farms & Farm Families in Early America

April 16th, 2019


If we want to understand everyday life in early America we need to understand the everyday life of early American farms and farmers.

Roughly three-quarters of Americans in British North America and the early United …

233 Gwenn Miller, A History of Russian America

April 9th, 2019


When we think about colonial American history we think about the colonies of the English, the Dutch, the French, and the Spanish. Rarely do we think …

232 Christopher Hodson, The Acadian Diaspora

April 2nd, 2019


Before the English settled in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 or the Dutch settled near Albany, New York in 1615, a group of French-speaking, Catholic …

231 Sara Georgini, The Religious Lives of the Adams Family

March 26th, 2019


Historians use archives to create the histories we love to read, watch, and listen to. So we’re going into one archive to investigate how historians use them and to discover more about the religious lives of the Adams …

230 Mitch Kachun, First Martyr of Liberty

March 19th, 2019


Samuel Gray, James Caldwell, Samuel Maverick, Patrick Carr, and Crispus Attucks. These are the five men who died as a result of the shootings on …

229 Patrick Griffin, The Townshend Moment

March 12th, 2019


Within days of the Boston Massacre, Bostonians politicized the event. They circulated a pamphlet about “the Horrid Massacre” and published images …

228 Eric Hinderaker, The Boston Massacre

March 5th, 2019


On the evening of March 5, 1770, a crowd gathered in Boston’s King Street and confronted a a sentry and his fellow soldiers in front of the custom …

227 Kyle Courtney, Copyright & Fair Use in Early America

February 26th, 2019


In the 21st century, we are all creators and users of content. We take original photos with our smartphones, generate blog posts, digital videos, and podcasts. Some of us write books and articles. And nearly everyone …

226 Ryan Quintana, Making the State of South Carolina

February 19th, 2019


What do we mean by “the state?”

How is a “state” produced?

Is “the state” something everyone can participate in producing?

Ryan Quintana, an …

225 Elaine Forman Crane, The Poison Plot: Adultery and Murder in Colonial Newport

February 12th, 2019


In 1738, a cooper named Benedict Arnold petitioned the Rhode Island General Assembly for a divorce from his wife Mary Ward Arnold. Benedict claimed …

224 Kevin Dawson, Aquatic Culture in Early America

February 5th, 2019


The Atlantic World has brought many disparate peoples together, which has caused a lot of ideas and cultures to mix.

How did the Atlantic World bring …

223 Susan Sleeper-Smith, A Native American History of the Ohio River Valley & Great Lakes Region

January 29th, 2019


During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Ohio River Valley proved to be a rich agrarian region. Many different Native American peoples prospered from its land both in terms of the the land’s ability to produce a wide …

222 Adam Costanzo, The Early History of Washington, D.C.

January 22nd, 2019


Have you ever wondered how the capital of the United States came to be situated at Washington D.C.?

The banks of the Potomac River represent an odd …

221 Rae Eighmey, The Culinary Adventures of Benjamin Franklin

January 15th, 2019


Can food help us better understand the people and events of the past? Can we better understand a person like Benjamin Franklin and who he was by the foods he ate?

Rae Katherine Eighmey, an award-winning food historian, …

220 Margaret Newell, New England Indians, Colonists, & the Origins of American Slavery

January 8th, 2019


Did you know that one of the earliest practices of slavery by English colonists originated in New England?

In fact, Massachusetts issued the very …

219 Adrian Covert, Taverns in Early America

January 1st, 2019


Inns and taverns played prominent roles in early American life. They served the needs of travelers who needed food to eat and places to sleep.They …

218 Peter G. Rose, How the Dutch Brough Us Santa, Presents, & Treats

December 25th, 2018


Have you ever wondered where the Christmas traditions of stockings, presents, and cookies come from?

What about jolly, old Saint Nicholas? Who was he …

217 Jessica Millward, Slavery and Freedom in Early Maryland

December 18th, 2018


How do you uncover the life of an enslaved person who left no paper trail?

What can the everyday life of an enslaved person tell us about slavery, how it was practiced, and how some enslaved people made the transition …

216 Lisa Wilson, A History of Stepfamilies in Early America

December 11th, 2018


What do George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln have in common?

They all grew-up in blended or stepfamilies.

Lisa Wilson, the …

215 Rachel Hope Cleves, A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America

December 4th, 2018


We tend to view gay marriage as a cultural and legal development of the 21st century.

But did you know that some early Americans lived openly as …

214 Christopher Grasso, Skpeticism and American Faith

November 27th, 2018


Was the early United States a “Christian nation?” Did most of its citizenry accept God and the Bible as the moral authority that bound them together …

213 Rebecca Fraser, The Pilgrims of Plimoth

November 20th, 2018


In 1621, the Pilgrims of Plimoth Colony and their Wampanoag neighbors came together to celebrate their first harvest. Today we remember this event as …

212 Researching Biography (Doing History)

November 13th, 2018


How do historians and biographers reconstruct the lives of people from the past?

Good biographies rely on telling the lives of people using practiced historical methods of thorough archival research and the sound …

Bonus: Erica Dunbar, The Washingtons' Runaway Slave, Ona Judge

November 9th, 2018


As part of the Omohundro Institute's Doing History series on biography, Episode 212 offers us a new conversation with Erica Dunbar, the author of Never Caught: The Washington’s Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave …

211 Considering John Marshall, Part 2 (Doing History)

November 6th, 2018


Can a biography help us explore big historical questions?

Can knowing about the life of John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, help us better understand the Supreme Court and how it …

210 Considering John Marshall, Part 1 (Doing History)

October 30th, 2018


For 34 years, John Marshall presided as the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. During his service, Marshal transformed the nation’s …

209 Considering Biography (Doing History)

October 23rd, 2018


Biography. Since the earliest days of the United States, and even before the thirteen colonies came together to forge a nation, Americans have been …

208 Nathaniel Philbrick, Turning Points of the American Revolution

October 16th, 2018


2018 marks the 241st anniversary of the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga and the 240th anniversary of the Franco-American Alliance. But was the victory that prompted the French to join the American war effort, …

207 Nick Bunker, Young Benjamin Franklin

October 9th, 2018


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

Benjamin Franklin serves as a great window on to the early American past because as a man of “variety” he pursued many interests: …

206 Katharine Gerbner, Christian Slavery: Conversion and Race in the Protestant Atlantic World

October 2nd, 2018


Between 1500 and the 1860s, Europeans and Americans forcibly removed approximately 12 million African people from the African continent, transported them to the Americas, and enslaved them.

Why did Europeans and …

205 Jeanne Abrams, First Ladies of the Republic

September 25th, 2018


La Presidente? The Presidentess? The First Lady of the Land?

The Second Article of the United States Constitution defines the Executive Branch of the …

204 James Lewis Jr., The Burr Conspiracy

September 18th, 2018


Aaron Burr: Revolutionary War hero, talented lawyer, Vice President, and Intriguer of treason?

Between 1805 and 1807, Aaron Burr supposedly intended …

203 Joanne Freeman, Alexander Hamilton

September 11th, 2018


Hamilton the Musical hit Broadway in August 2015 and since that time people all around the world have been learning about a man named Alexander Hamilton. Or, at least they’ve been learning about the musical’s character …

202 The Early History of the United States Congress

September 4th, 2018


On September 17, 1787, a majority of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention approved the new form of government they had spent months drafting and submitted it to the 13 states for their ratification and …

201 Catherine Kelly, Art, Politics, and Everyday Life in Early America

August 28th, 2018


What kind of character should Americans have? Is it possible to create a shared sense of national character and identity that all Americans can …

200 Everyday Life in Early America

August 21st, 2018


What would you like to know about Early American History?

It turns out, you wanted to know about the establishment of schools, how the colonial …

199 Coll Thrush, Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of the Empire

August 14th, 2018


When we explore the history of early America, we often look at people who lived in North America. But what about the people who lived and worked in …

198 Andrew Lipman, Saltwater Frontier: Native Americans and the Contest for the Northeastern Coast

August 7th, 2018


When we think of Native Americans, many of us think of inland dwellers. People adept at navigating forests and rivers and the skilled hunters and horsemen who lived and hunted on the American Plains.

But did you know …

197 Brett Rushforth, Native American Slavery in New France

July 31st, 2018


When we think about early American slavery, our minds evoke images of plantations where enslaved men and women were forced to labor in agricultural …

196 Alejandra Dubcovsky, Information Exchange in the Early Southeast

July 24th, 2018


We live in an age of information. The internet provides us with 24/7 access to all types of information—news, how-to articles, sports scores, entertainment news, and congressional votes.

But what do we do with all of …

195 Morgan Bengel, Old Newgate Prison and Copper Mine

July 17th, 2018


In 1705 a group of colonists in Simsbury, Connecticut founded a copper mine, which the Connecticut General Assembly purchased and turned into a …

194 Garrett Cloer, Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site

July 10th, 2018


As part of its mission, the National Park Service seeks to protect and preserve places saved by the American people so that all may experience the heritage of the United States. These places include those with …

Bonus: Behind the Scenes of the Adams-Jefferson Letters

July 6th, 2018


In 1959, the Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press published Lester J. Cappon’s The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete …

193 Partisans: The Friendship and Rivalry of Adams and Jefferson

July 3rd, 2018


John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Two drafters and signers of the Declaration of Independence, two diplomats who served the United States abroad in Europe, and two men who went on to serve as vice president and president …

192 Brian Regal, The Secret History of the Jersey Devil

June 26th, 2018


The Jersey Devil is a monster legend that originated in New Jersey’s early American past.

How and why did this legend emerge? And, what can it tell us about New Jersey’s past?

Brian Regal, an Associate Professor of …

191 Lisa Brooks, A New History of King Philip's War

June 19th, 2018


King Philip’s War is an event that appears over and over again in books about colonial America.

So when you have an event that has been as studied as …

190 Jennifer Goloboy, Origins of the American Middle Class

June 12th, 2018


As many as 70 percent of Americans consider themselves to be members of the middle class. But if you consider income as a qualifier for membership, only about 50 percent of Americans qualify for membership.

So what does …

189 Sam White, The Little Ice Age

June 5th, 2018


We’re living in a period of climate change. Our Earth has been getting warmer since the mid-19th century.

So how will humans adapt to and endure this period of global warming? Will they adapt to it and endure?

It turns …

188 Terri Halperin, The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798

May 29th, 2018


The Alien and Sedition Acts consisted of four laws enacted by the United States government in 1798. The United States passed these laws during a time of great uncertainty, a time when many Americans feared for the very …

187 Kenneth Cohen, Sport in Early America

May 22nd, 2018


Our present-day American culture is obsessed with sports. To cite just two pieces of evidence of this, on average, more than 67,000 fans attend each …

186 Max Edelson, The New Map of the British Empire

May 15th, 2018


As a result of Great Britain’s victory in the Seven Years’ War, British North America expanded so that it stretched from the Atlantic seaboard west …

185 Joyce D. Goodfriend, Early New York City and its Culture

May 8th, 2018


Who should determine our culture and the morals our society follows?

Culture, or the intellectual achievements, attitudes, and behaviors of our …

184 David Silverman, Thundersticks: Firearms and the Violent Transformation of Native America

May 1st, 2018


Early North America was a place rife with violent conflict. Between the 17th and 19th centuries we see a lot of conflict between different Native …

183 Douglas Bradburn, George Washington's Mount Vernon

April 24th, 2018


George Washington played three very important public roles during his lifetime. He served as the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, the …

182 Douglas Winiarski, Darkness Falls on the Land of Light: The Great Awakening in New England

April 17th, 2018


What was it like to live through an extraordinary time?

The 1740s and 1750s proved to be an extraordinary time for many ordinary New Englanders. It was a period when itinerant preachers swept through the region and …

181 Virginia DeJohn Anderson, The Martyr and the Traitor: Nathan Hale & Moses Dunbar

April 10th, 2018


Why did early Americans choose to become patriots or loyalists during the American Revolution?

How did they make the decision to either stand with or …

180 Kate Elizabeth Brown, Alexander Hamilton and the Making of American Law

April 3rd, 2018


The legacy of Alexander Hamilton tells us that he was Thomas Jefferson’s political rival, a man who fought to secure strong powers for the national …

179 George Van Cleve, After the Revolution: Governance During the Critical Period

March 27th, 2018


The Confederation period is one of the most neglected aspects of United States History. And yet, it’s a very important period. Between 1781 and 1789, the Confederation Congress established by the Articles of …

178 Karoline Cook, Muslims and Moriscos in Colonial Spanish America

March 20th, 2018


In 1535, Spanish holdings in the Americas proved so great that the Spanish government created the Viceroyalty of New Spain to govern all territory …

177 Martin Brückner, The Social Life of Maps in America

March 13th, 2018


Did you know that maps have social lives?

Maps facilitate a lot of different social and political relationships between people and nations. And they …

175 Daniel Epstein, House Divided: The Revolution in Ben Franklin's House

February 27th, 2018


Just how personal was the American Revolution?

What could the event and war mean for individual people and families?

Daniel Mark Epstein, author of

174 Thomas Apel, Yellow Fever in the Early American Republic

February 20th, 2018


It’s February 2018 and doctors have declared this year’s seasonal flu epidemic as one of the worst to hit the United States in over a decade. Yet this flu epidemic is nothing compared to the yellow fever epidemics that …

173 Marisa Fuentes, Colonial Port Cities and Slavery

February 13th, 2018


The histories of early North America and the Caribbean are intimately intertwined. The same European empires we encounter in our study of early …

172 Kenneth Daigler, Spies, Patriots, and Traitors: American Intelligence in the Revolutionary War

February 6th, 2018


Intelligence gathering plays an important role in the foreign policies of many modern-day nation states, including the United States. Which raises …

171 Jessica Stern, Native Americans, British Colonists, and Trade in North America

January 30th, 2018


History books like to tell us that Native Americans did not fully understand British methods and ideas of trade. Is this really true?

Did Native …

170 Wendy Warren, New England Bound: Slavery in Early New England

January 23rd, 2018


New England was a place with no cash crops. It was a place where many of its earliest settlers came to live just so they could worship their Puritan …

169 Thomas Kidd, The Religious Life of Benjamin Franklin

January 16th, 2018


We remember Benjamin Franklin as an accomplished printer, scientist, and statesman. Someone who came from humble beginnings and made his own way in the world. Rarely do we remember Franklin as a man of faith.

Benjamin …

168 Andrea Smalley, Wild By Nature: Colonists and Animals in North America

January 9th, 2018


When we study the history of colonial North America, we tend to focus on European colonists and their rivalries with each other and with Native …

167 Eberhard Faber, The Early History of New Orleans

January 2nd, 2018


The French established New Orleans and the greater colony of Louisiana in 1717. By 1840, New Orleans had become the 3rd largest city in the United …

166 Freedom and the American Revolution

December 26th, 2017


The Declaration of Independence described “all men” as “created equal” when its authors knew they were not. So was the revolutionary idea of freedom …

165 The Age of Revolutions

December 19th, 2017


Between 1763 and 1848, revolutions took place in North America, South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe. But why is it that we only seem to …

164 The American Revolution in the Age of Revolutions

December 12th, 2017


The American Revolution took place within a larger period known today as the “Age of Revolutions.”

What does the Revolution look like when we place …

163 The American Revolution in North America

December 5th, 2017


When we think about North America during the American Revolution, most of our brains show us images of eastern Canada and the thirteen British …

162 Dunmore's New World: The Revolution and the British Empire

November 28th, 2017


What did British imperial officials in London and their North America-based representatives make of the American Revolution?

In this episode, we …

161 Smuggling and the American Revolution

November 21st, 2017


At the end of the French and Indian, or Seven Years’ War in 1763, Great Britain claimed that smuggling was a BIG problem in its North American …

160 The Politics of Tea

November 14th, 2017


How did early Americans go from hosting social tea parties to hosting protests like the Boston Tea Party?

Tea played a central role in the economic, …

159 The Revolutionary Economy

November 7th, 2017


How much merit do the economic factors behind the cry “No Taxation Without Representation” have when we consider the origins of the American …

158 The Revolutionaries' Army

October 31st, 2017


Between 1775 and 1783, an estimated 230,000 men served in the Continental Army with another approximately 145,000 men serving in state militia units.

Who were the men who served in these military ranks? What motivated …

157 Judith Van Buskirk, The Revolution's African American Soldiers (Doing History Rev)

October 24th, 2017


Between 1775 and 1783, an estimated 230,000 men served in the Continental Army with another approximately 145,000 men serving in state militia units.

But who were the men who served in these military ranks? What …

156 Power of the Press in the American Revolution (Doing History Rev)

October 17th, 2017


How did Americans find out about the Revolution?

What effect did printed materials like newspapers, pamphlets, and books have on shaping the debate …

155 Pauline Maier's American Revolution (Doing History Rev)

October 10th, 2017


How much can the work of one historian impact how we view and study the American Revolution?

We investigate the answer to this question by exploring …

154 The Freedoms We Lost (Doing History Rev)

October 3rd, 2017


Declaring independence from Great Britain required the formation of new governments.

But why did Americans want and need new governments? And how did …

153 Committees and Congress: Governments of the American Revolution (Doing History Rev)

September 26th, 2017


How did the American revolutionaries organize and coordinate local, provincial, and intercolonial action?

How did the revolutionaries form …

152 Origins of the American Revolution (Doing History Rev)

September 19th, 2017


What caused the American Revolution?

Was it the issue of ‘No Taxation without Representation?’ Was it conflict and change in the social order of …

151 Defining the American Revolution (Doing History Rev)

September 12th, 2017


What do we mean by the American Revolution?

How do we define it? Was it a war? Was it a movement? Was it a series of movements?

The Doing History: To …

150 Woody Holton, Abigail Adams: Revolutionary Speculator

September 5th, 2017


Abigail Adams lived through and participated in the American Revolution. As the wife of John Adams, she used her position to famously remind Adams …

149 George Goodwin, Benjamin Franklin in London

August 29th, 2017


Over the course of his long life, Benjamin Franklin traveled to and lived in London on two different occasions. The first time he went as a teenager. …

148 Marla Miller, Betsy Ross

August 22nd, 2017


How did everyday men and women experience life in the colonial America?

How did the American Revolution transform their work and personal lives?

147 Don Hagist, British Soldiers, American War

August 15th, 2017


What about the British Redcoats?

When we discuss the military history of the American War for Independence, we tend to focus on specific battles or details about the men who served in George Washington’s Continental …

146 Robert Middlekauff, George Washington's Revolution

August 8th, 2017


What drove George Washington to become a Patriot during the American Revolution?

How did he overcome the ill-trained and inexperienced troops, …

145 Rosemarie Zagarri, Mercy Otis Warren and the American Revolution

August 1st, 2017


Mercy Otis Warren wasn’t your typical early American woman. She was a woman with strong political viewpoints, which she wrote about and published for …

144 Robert Parkinson, The Common Cause of the American Revolution

July 25th, 2017


How do you get people living in thirteen different colonies to come together and fight for independence?

What ideas and experiences would even unite …

143 Michael Klarman, The Making of the United States Constitution

July 18th, 2017


How did the framers draft the Constitution of 1787? What powers does the Constitution provide the federal government? Why do we elect the President …

142 Manisha Sinha, A History of Abolition

July 11th, 2017


Most histories of American abolitionism begin just before the Civil War, during the Antebellum period. But the movement to end chattel slavery in …

141 A Declaration in Draft (Doing History Rev)

July 4th, 2017


The Declaration of Independence stands first in a series of documents that founded the United States. It also stands as an early step in the long process of establishing a free, independent, and self-governing nation. …

140 Tamara Thornton, Nathaniel Bowditch: 19th-Century Man of Business, Science, and the Sea

June 27th, 2017


Nathaniel Bowditch worked as a navigator, mathematician, astronomer, and business innovator. Over the course of his lifetime, his fellow Americans …

139 Andrés Reséndez, The Other Slavery: Indian Enslavement in the Americas

June 20th, 2017


In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. He also played a central role in the European adoption of Indian or Native American slavery.

When we think …

138 Patrick Spero, Frontier Politics in Early America

June 13th, 2017


Did you know that Connecticut and Virginia once invaded Pennsylvania?

During the 1760s, Connecticut invaded and captured the northeastern corner of Pennsylvania just as Virginia invaded and captured parts of western …

137 Erica Dunbar: The Washingtons' Runaway Slave, Ona Judge

June 6th, 2017


George Washington was an accomplished man. He served as a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, first President of the United States, and on top of all that …

136 Jennifer Van Horn, Material Culture and the Making of America

May 30th, 2017


What do the objects we purchase and use say about us?

If we take the time to think about the material objects and clothing in our lives, we’ll find that we can actually learn a lot about ourselves and other people. The …

135 Julie Holcomb, Moral Commerce: The Transatlantic Boycott of the Slave Labor Economy

May 23rd, 2017


If early Americans desired slaves mostly to produce sugarcane, cotton, rice, indigo, and tobacco, what would happen if Europeans and early Americans …

134 Spencer McBride, Pulpit and Nation: Clergymen and the Politics of Revolutionary America

May 16th, 2017


In Colonial America, clergymen stood as thought leaders in their local communities. They stood at the head of their congregations and many community …

133 Patrick Breen, The Nat Turner Revolt

May 9th, 2017


The institution of African slavery in North America began in late August 1619 and persisted until the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in December 1865.

Over those 246 years, …

132 Coll Thrush, Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of the Empire

May 2nd, 2017


When we explore the history of early America, we often look at people who lived and the events that took place in North America. But what about the …

131 Frank Cogliano, Thomas Jefferson's Empire of Liberty

April 25th, 2017


The United States has a complicated history when it comes to ideas of empire and imperialism. Since it’s earliest days, the United States has wanted the power that came with being an empire even while declaring its …

130 Paul Revere's Ride Through History (Doing History Rev)

April 18th, 2017


On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere rode to Lexington, Massachusetts to spread the alarm that the Regulars were marching. Revere made several important …

129 John Bell, The Road to Concord, 1775

April 11th, 2017


How did the colonists of Massachusetts go from public protests meant to shame government officials and destroy offending property, to armed conflict …

128 Alan Taylor, American Revolutions: A Continental History

April 4th, 2017


Historians often portray the American Revolution as an orderly, if violent, event that moved from British colonists’ high-minded ideas about freedom …

127 Caroline Winterer, American Enlightenments

March 28th, 2017


In many ways, the Enlightenment gave birth to the United States. Enlightened ideas informed protests over imperial governance and taxation and over …

126 Rebecca Brannon, The Reintegration of American Loyalists

March 21st, 2017


What happened to the loyalists who stayed in the United States after the War for Independence?

After the war, 60,000 loyalists and 15,000 slaves evacuated the United States. But thousands more opted to remain in the new …

125 Terri Snyder, Death, Suicide, and Slavery in British North America

March 14th, 2017


Early America was a diverse place. It contained many different people who had many different traditions that informed how they lived…and died.

How did early Americans understand death? What did they think about suicide?

124 James Alexander Dun, Making the Haitian Revolution in Early America

March 7th, 2017


What did the American Revolution mean and achieve? What sort of liberty and freedom did independence grant Americans and which Americans should …

123: Revolutionary Allegiances (Doing History Rev)

February 28th, 2017


In December 1773, the Cape Cod Tea Crisis revealed that the people of “radical” Massachusetts were far from united in their support for the American …

122 Andrew O'Shaughnessy, The Men Who Lost America

February 21st, 2017


Did the Americans win the War for Independence? Or did the British simply lose the war?

The history of the American War for Independence is complicated. And history books tell many different versions of the event, which …

121 Wim Klooster, The Dutch Moment in the 17th-Century Atlantic World

February 14th, 2017


The Spanish, French, and English played large roles in the origins of colonial America. But so too did the Dutch. During the 17th century, they had a …

120 Marcia Zug, A History of Mail Order Brides in Early America

February 7th, 2017


How do you build colonies without women?

Most of the colonial adventurers from England and France who set out for Jamestown, New France, and colonial …

119 Steve Pincus, The Heart of the Declaration

January 31st, 2017


On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia moved that the Second Continental Congress resolve “that these United Colonies are, and of right out …

118 Christy Clark-Pujara, The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island

January 24th, 2017


How did the smallest colony and smallest state in the union became the largest American participant in the slave trade?

Christy Clark-Pujara, an …

117 Annette Gordon-Reed, The Life and Ideas of Thomas Jefferson

January 17th, 2017


Thomas Jefferson wrote about liberty and freedom and yet owned over six hundred slaves during his lifetime.

He’s a founder who many of us have a hard time understanding.

This why we need an expert to lead us through his …

116 Erica Charters, Disease & The Seven Years' War

January 10th, 2017


When we think of the French and Indian, or Seven Years’ War, we often think of battles: The Monongahela, Ticonderoga, Québec. Yet, wars aren’t just about battles. They’re about people and governments too.

In this …

115 Andrew Torget, The Early American History of Texas

January 3rd, 2017


Like many states in the south and west, Texas has an interesting early American past that begins with Native American settlement followed by Spanish …

Bonus: Lonnie Bunch, History & Historians in the Public (Doing History)

December 30th, 2016


Throughout the “Doing History: How Historians Work” series we’ve explored how historians find and research historical topics, how they identify and read historical sources for information, and how they publish their …

114 Karin Wulf, The History of Genealogy (Doing History)

December 27th, 2016


History has a history and genealogy has a history. And the histories of both affect how and why we study the past and how we understand and view it.

Today, we explore why it’s important for us to understand that the …

113 Brian Murphy, Building the Empire State

December 20th, 2016


After seven, long years of occupation, Americans found New York City in shambles after the British evacuation on November 25, 1783.

Ten to twenty-five percent of the city had burned in 1776. The British used just about …

112 Mary Beth Norton, The Tea Crisis of 1773 (Doing History Revolution)

December 13th, 2016


On December 16, 1773, the colonists of Boston threw 342 chests of English East India Company tea into Boston Harbor, an act we remember as the …

111 Jonathan Eacott, India in the Making of Britain and America, 1700-1830

December 6th, 2016


Neither colonial North America nor the United States developed apart from the rest of the world. Since their founding, both the colonies and the …

110 Joshua Taylor, How Genealogists Research (Doing History)

November 29th, 2016


History tells us who we are and how we came to be who we are.

Like history, genealogy studies people. It’s a field of study that can tell us who we are in a more exact sense by showing us how our ancestral lines connect …

109 John Dixon, The American Enlightenment & Cadwallader Colden

November 22nd, 2016


We’ve heard that the American Revolution took place during a period called “the Enlightenment.” But what was the Enlightenment?

Was it an …

108 Ann Little, The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright

November 15th, 2016


Colonial America comprised many different cultural and political worlds. Most colonial Americans inhabited just one world, but today, we’re going to …

107 Mary Sarah Bilder, Madison's Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention

November 8th, 2016


When politicians, lawyers, and historians discuss the Constitutional Convention of 1787, they often rely on two sources: The promotional tracts …

106 Jane Kamensky, The World of John Singleton Copley

November 1st, 2016


What can the life of an artist reveal about the American Revolution and how most American men and women experienced it?

Today, we explore the life …

105 Joshua Piker, How Historians Publish History (Doing History)

October 25th, 2016


What do historians do with their research once they finish writing about it?

How do historians publish the books and articles we love to read?

This episode of our “Doing History: How Historians Work” series, takes us …

104 Andrew Lipman, The Saltwater Frontier

October 18th, 2016


When we think of Native Americans, many of us think of inland dwellers. People adept at navigating forests and rivers and the skilled hunters and horsemen who lived and hunted on the American Plains.

But did you know …

103 Sara Bon-Harper, James Monroe & His Estate Highland

October 11th, 2016


On April 30, 1789, George Washington became the first President of the United States. Between 1789 and 1825, five men would serve as president. Four …

102 William Nester, George Rogers Clark

October 4th, 2016


In the Treaty of Paris, 1783, Great Britain offered the new United States generous terms that included lands in between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River.

Why did the biggest empire with the greatest …

101 John Demos, How Historians Write About History (Doing History)

September 27th, 2016


How do historians write about the people, places, and events they’ve studied in historical sources?

We continue our “Doing History: How Historians Work” series by investigating how historians write about history. Our …

100 Behind-the-Scenes with Liz Covart & Ben Franklin's World

September 20th, 2016


Wow! Ben Franklin’s World has made it to episode 100.

How do we celebrate and mark this special occasion?

By your request, host Liz Covart answers your questions about history, podcasting, and time travel.

Show Notes:

099 Mark Hanna, Pirates & Pirate Nests in the British Atlantic World

September 13th, 2016


Pirates are alive and well in our popular culture. Thanks to movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and television shows like Black Sails, we see …

098 Gautham Rao, Birth of the American Tax Man

September 6th, 2016


Could customs collectors, the tax men of early America, be the unsung founders of the early United States?

Today, we explore the creation of the …

097 Billy Smith, How to Organize Your Research (Doing History)

August 30th, 2016


What do historians do with all of the information they collect when they research?

How do they access their research in a way that allows them to …

096 Nicholas Guyatt, The Origins of Racial Segregation in the United States

August 23rd, 2016


Ever wonder how the United States’ problem with race developed and why early American reformers didn’t find a way to fix it during the earliest days …

095 Rose Doherty, A Tale of Two Bostons

August 16th, 2016


The City Upon a Hill. The Athens of America. The Cradle of Liberty.

Boston has many names because it has played important roles in the history of …

094 Cassandra Good, Founding Friendships

August 9th, 2016


Who are you friends with?

Why are you friends with your friends?

In the early American republic, men and women formed and maintained friendships for many of the same reasons we make friends today: companionship, shared …

093 Taylor Stoermer, Harvard University & Colonial North America

August 2nd, 2016


What can the collections of the Harvard University Libraries teach us about our early American past?

It turns out, quite a lot.

Taylor Stoermer, a …

092 Sharon Block, How to Research History Online (Doing History)

July 26th, 2016


How do historians conduct research online? This is your second-most asked question after how did everyday people live their day-to-day lives in early America.

As the “Doing History” series explores how historians work, …

091 Gregory Dowd, Rumors, Legends, & Hoaxes in Early America

July 19th, 2016


Did you know that George Washington’s favorite drink was whiskey?

Actually, it wasn’t.

Washington preferred Madeira, a fortified Portuguese wine from the island of Madeira. Why the false start to today’s exploration of …

090 Caitlin Fitz, Age of American Revolutions

July 12th, 2016


The American Revolution inspired revolutions in France, the Caribbean, and in Latin and South America between the late 18th and mid-19th centuries.

089 Jessica Millward, Slavery & Freedom in Early Maryland

July 5th, 2016


How do you uncover the life of a slave who left no paper trail?

What can her everyday life tell us about slavery, how it was practiced, and how some slaves made the transition from slavery to freedom?

Today, we explore …

088 Michael McDonnell, The History of History Writing (Doing History)

June 28th, 2016


Historians rely on secondary historical sources almost as much as they rely on primary historical sources.

But what are secondary historical sources and how do they help historians know what they know about the past?

087 Sean Condon, Shays' Rebellion

June 21st, 2016


After achieving independence from Great Britain, the new United States and its member states had to pay war debts. As the national government lacked the power to tax its citizens, the problem of paying war debts fell to …

086 George Goodwin, Benjamin Franklin in London

June 14th, 2016


Over the course of his long life, Benjamin Franklin traveled to and lived in London twice. The first time he went as a teenager. The second as a man …

085 Bonnie Huskins, American Loyalists in Canada

June 7th, 2016


The War for Independence was a conflict between Great Britain and her 13 North American colonies. It was also a civil war.

Not only did the war pit …

084 Zara Anishanslin, How Historians Read Historical Sources (Doing History)

May 31st, 2016


What do historians do with historical sources once they find them?

How do they read them for information about the past?

Today, Zara Anishanslin, an …

083 Jared Hardesty, Unfreedom: Slavery in Colonial Boston

May 24th, 2016


Colonial Bostonians practiced slavery. But slavery in Boston looked very different than slavery in the American south or in the Caribbean.


082 Alejandra Dubcovsky, Information & Communication in the Early American South

May 17th, 2016


We live in an age of information. The internet provides us with 24/7 access to all types of information—news, how-to articles, sports scores, entertainment news, and congressional votes.

But what do we do with all of …

081 Don Glickstein, After Yorktown: The Final Struggle for American Independence

May 10th, 2016


When did the fighting of the American War for Independence end?

In school we learn that the war came to an end at Yorktown. But, this lesson omits …

080 Jen Manion, Liberty's Prisoners: Prisons & Prison Life in Early America

May 3rd, 2016


American prisons are overcrowded. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and nearly 2.5 million Americans are serving …

079 James Horn, What is a Historical Source? (Doing History)

April 26th, 2016


Historians research the past through historical sources.

But what are the materials that tell historians about past peoples, places, and events?

Today, James Horn, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the …

078 Rachel Shelden, Washington Brotherhood: Politics, Social Life, and the Coming of the Civil War

April 19th, 2016


The United States is in midst of a political and cultural divide.

The last time the United States faced this deep of a division, the nation descended …

077 Rinker Buck, The Oregon Trail

April 12th, 2016


Do you have what it takes to be a pioneer?

If offered the opportunity, would you undertake a journey across the Oregon Trail in a mule-pulled covered …

076 Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, Citizen Sailors: Becoming American in the Age of Revolution

April 5th, 2016


What did it mean to be a citizen during the late-18th and early-19th centuries?

Why and how did early American sailors seem intent on proving their citizenship to the United States?

In this episode, we explore …

075 Peter Drummey, How Archives Work (Doing History)

March 29th, 2016


Historians research history in archives.

But how do you gain access to one? And how do you use an archive once you find that it likely contains the information you seek?

In this third episode of our “Doing History: How …

074 Mary Wigge, Martha Washington

March 22nd, 2016


George Washington stands as one of the most famous Americans in history, but what do we know of his helpmeet and partner, Martha?

Who was the woman who stood beside and encouraged Washington?

How did she assist him as …

073 Mark Noll, The Bible in Early America

March 15th, 2016


What role did the Bible play in the development of British North America and the early United States?

How did the settlement of numerous religious …

072 Ari Kelman, The American Civil War

March 8th, 2016


The American Civil War took place over 150 years ago.

The war claimed over 600,000 American lives and its legacy affects the way present-day Americans view civil rights and race relations.

The Civil War stands as an …

071 Bruce Venter, Saratoga and Hubbardton, 1777

March 1st, 2016


Historians refer to the Battle of Saratoga as the “turning point” of the American Revolution.

They argue the Patriot Army’s defeat of British General …

070 Jennifer Morgan, How Historians Research (Doing History)

February 23rd, 2016


How did enslaved African and African American women experience slavery?

What were their daily lives like?

And how do historians know as much as they do about enslaved women?

Today, we explore the answers to these …

069 Abby Chandler, Law, Order, and Sexual Misconduct in Colonial New England

February 16th, 2016


Law and order stood as a sign of civilization for many 17th-century Europeans, which is why some of the first European settlers in North America created systems of law and order in their new homeland.

Today, we explore …

068 Richard Brookhiser, Founders' Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln

February 9th, 2016


Abraham Lincoln grew up as the son of a poor farmer. Yet, he became the 16th President of the United States.

How did the son of a poor farmer achieve …

067 John Ryan Fischer, An Environmental History of Early California & Hawaii

February 2nd, 2016


Aside from nice weather, what do California and Hawaii have in common?

Spanish longhorn cattle.

Today, we explore how Spanish longhorn cattle influenced the early American and environmental histories of California and …

066 Simon Newman, How Historians Find Their Research Topics (Doing History)

January 26th, 2016


How did average, poor, and enslaved men and women live their day-to-day lives in the early United States?

Today, we explore the answers to that …

Bonus: Why Historians Study History (Doing History)

January 22nd, 2016


History is about people, but what do we know about the people behind history’s scenes?

Who are the people who tell us what we know about our past?

How do they come to know what they know?

Today, we begin our year-long …

065 Alexander Rose, Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Network

January 19th, 2016


Today, we explore espionage during the American Revolution and the origins and operations of the Culper Spy Ring with Alexander Rose, author of

064 Brett Rushforth, Native American Slavery in New France

January 12th, 2016


Most early Americans practiced chattel slavery: the practice of treating slaves as property that people could buy, sell, trade, and use as they would …

063 Megan Kate Nelson, Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War

January 5th, 2016


The American Civil War claimed more than 620,000 American lives.

Did you know that it also cost American forests, landscapes, cities, and institutions?

Today, we explore the different types of ruination wrought by the …

062 Carol Berkin, The Bill of Rights

December 29th, 2015


Did you know that when James Madison originally proposed the Bill of Rights, it consisted of 36 amendments and that the House of Representatives did not want to consider or debate Madison’s proposed amendments to the …

061 Edward Larson, George Washington in Retirement

December 22nd, 2015


If you had only six years to enjoy retirement what would you do?

Would you improve your plantation? Build canals? Or work behind-the-scenes to unite …

060 David Preston, Braddock's Defeat: The Battle of the Monongahela and the Road to Revolution

December 15th, 2015


Did Washington really start the French and Indian War?

Why should we remember a battle that took place over 260 years ago?

In this episode, we …

059 Eric Foner, Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad

December 8th, 2015


Between the 1830s and 1860s, a clandestine communications and transportation network called the “Underground Railroad” helped thousands of slaves escape to freedom.

Today, we will investigate and explore this secret …

058 Andrew Schocket, Fighting over the Founders: How We Remember the American Revolution

December 1st, 2015


Why do we refer to the men who founded the United States as the “founding fathers?”

Why do we choose to remember the American Revolution as a …

057 Max Edling, War, Money, and the American State, 1783-1867

November 24th, 2015


Do you know what we have in common with our early American forebears?


As Benjamin Franklin stated in 1789, “nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Given the certainty of taxes it seems important that we …

056 Daniel J. Tortora, The Anglo-Cherokee War, 1759-1761

November 17th, 2015


Between 1754 and 1763, North Americans participated in the French and Indian War; a world war Europeans call the Seven Years’ War.

As this world war …

055 Robb Haberman, John Jay: Forgotten Founder

November 10th, 2015


Who was John Jay?

Jay played important and prominent roles during the founding of the United States and yet, his name isn’t one that many would list …

054 John D. Wilsey, American Exceptionalism: The History of an Idea

November 3rd, 2015


The United States is a diverse nation of immigrants and their ancestors. With such diversity, and no one origination point for its people, how do we describe what the United States is and what its people stand for?

What …

053 Emerson W. Baker, The Salem Witch Trials of 1692

October 27th, 2015


Do you believe in the supernatural? In ghosts, zombies, or perhaps witches?

Today we celebrate All Hallows Eve with an exploration of the specters and witches that haunted 17th-century Massachusetts.

Our guide for this …

052 Ronald A. Johnson, Diplomacy in Black and White: Early United States-Haitian Relations

October 20th, 2015


Much like the United States, the colonists of Saint Domingue (present-day Haiti) sought their independence from France by fighting a war and waging a …

051 Catherine Cangany, Frontier Seaport: A History of Early Detroit

October 13th, 2015


Located 600 miles inland from Philadelphia and over 700 miles from Québec City, early Detroit could have been a backwater, a frontier post that …

050 Marla Miller, Betsy Ross and the Making of America

October 6th, 2015


How did every day men and women experience life in colonial America?

How did the American Revolution transform their work and personal lives?

Today, …

049 Malcolm Gaskill, How the English Became American

September 29th, 2015


Why did England want to establish colonies in North America and how did Englishmen go about establishing them?

We explore the early days of English …

048 Ken Miller, Dangerous Guests; Enemy Captives During the War for Independence

September 22nd, 2015


When we think about the War for American Independence many of us conjure images of Washington crossing the Delaware, Cornwallis’ surrender at …

047 Emily Conroy-Krutz, Christian Imperialism: Converting the World in the Early American Republic

September 15th, 2015


Where did the United States fit within the world between 1810 and 1847?

After the United States secured its independence from Great Britain, many Americans looked at the world and wondered about their place within it.

046 John Ferling, Whirlwind: The American Revolution & the War That Won It

September 8th, 2015


What caused the American Revolution?

Can we use the term “American Revolution” to describe both the revolution and the War for Independence?

What was …

045 Spencer McBride, Joseph Smith and the Founding of Mormonism

September 1st, 2015


Many Americans associate the state of Utah with Mormons.

But did you know the Mormons almost settled in Texas?

Spencer McBride, an editor with the Joseph Smith Papers Documentary Editing Project, joins us to explore the …

044 Adam Shprintzen, The Vegetarian Crusade: The Rise of an American Reform Movement

August 25th, 2015


Do you know which early American reform movement pushed for abolition, women’s rights, pacifism, and economic growth?

Today, Adam Shprintzen, …

043 Matthew Osborn, Rum Maniacs: Alcoholic Insanity in the Early Republic

August 18th, 2015


How and when did doctors become respected professionals in American society?

The answer lies in early Americans’ fascination with delirium tremens, …

Bonus: The Boston Stamp Act Riots

August 14th, 2015


“No Taxation Without Representation!”

August 14, 2015 marks the 250th anniversary of the first Boston Stamp Act riot.

Today’s bonus episode commemorates the anniversary with a conversation about the Stamp Act, the Boston …

042 Heather Cox Richardson, A History of the Republican Party

August 11th, 2015


Is the Republican Party, the party of Abraham Lincoln?

The United States has entered presidential primary season, which means it won’t be long before …

041 Bruno Paul Stenson, Canada and the American Revolution

August 4th, 2015


Did Canada almost join the American Revolution?

In September 1775, Major-General Philip Schuyler launched the Patriot’s invasion into Canada. The …

040 For Fear of an Elective King: George Washington & the Presidential Title Controversy of 1789

July 28th, 2015


Today we address the President of the United States as “Mr. President.” But did you know that the proper title for the office was almost “His …

039 Eric Nelson, The Royalist Revolution: Monarchy and the American Founding

July 21st, 2015


The American Revolution was a revolution against Parliament not a king.

This is the idea offered by Eric Nelson in his new book The Royalist …

038 Carolyn Harris, Magna Carta & Its Gifts to North America

July 14th, 2015


Are you ready to time travel?

2015 marks the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, a document created to limit the powers of King John of England and his successors in 1215.

Today, Magna Carta and its four key principles …

037 Kathleen DuVal, Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution

July 7th, 2015


What battle proved to be the turning point of the American War for Independence?

If you answered Saratoga, you are in general agreement with most …

036 Abigail Swingen, Competing Visions of Empire

June 30th, 2015


How and where did the colonies of North America and the Caribbean fit within the British Empire?

The answer to this question depends on whether you …

Bonus: Lafayette & the Hermione

June 26th, 2015


Who was the Marquis de Lafayette? How did he make the Patriots’ success in the American Revolution possible? And why did a group known as the Friends …

035 Michael Lord, Historic Hudson Valley and Washington Irving

June 23rd, 2015


Washington Irving was an historian and writer. Some historians and biographers have called him the first great American author. 

Today, Michael Lord, Director of Education at Historic Hudson Valley, joins us to explore …

034 Mark R. Cheathem, Andrew Jackson, Southerner

June 16th, 2015


The Hero of New Orleans. Old Hickory. General. President of the United States. Andrew Jackson held and embodied all of these titles and nicknames. 

033 Douglas Bradburn, George Washington and His Library

June 9th, 2015


When you think about George Washington, what image comes to mind?

Washington the general?

Washington the president?

Perhaps, Washington the gentleman farmer of Mount Vernon?

But did you know that George Washington loved …

032 Michelle Marchetti Coughlin, One Colonial Woman's World

June 2nd, 2015


What was everyday life like for average men and women in early America?

Listeners ask this question more than any other question and today we …

031 Benjamin Franklin and the Papers of Benjamin Franklin Editorial Project

May 26th, 2015


Benjamin Franklin’s life spanned almost the entire 18th century. 

Between his birth on January 17, 1706 and his death on April 17, 1790, Franklin lived well-traveled and accomplished life.

Michael D. Hattem, research …

030 Shelby M. Balik, Rally the Scattered Believers: Northern New England's Religious Geography

May 19th, 2015


You may know the stereotype of the “busibody New Englander,” the person who knows all about their neighbors’ private affairs. 

This stereotype comes from the New England town-church ideal: The idea that ministers and …

029 Colin Calloway, The Victory with No Name: The Native American Defeat of the First American Army

May 12th, 2015


Can you name the battle that took place between the United States Army and the Miami Confederacy on November 4, 1791?

It's a trick question. You …

Bonus: We Are One: Mapping America's Road from Revolution to Independence

May 8th, 2015


What can maps tell us about the past? 

How do maps affect the way we view events such as the American Revolution?

The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center …

028 Janice Fontanella, Building the Erie Canal

May 5th, 2015


A “little short of madness.” That is how Thomas Jefferson responded when two delegates from New York approached him with the idea to build the Erie Canal in January 1809. 

Jefferson’s comment did not discourage New …

027 Lisa Wilson, A History of Stepfamilies in Early America

April 28th, 2015


What do George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln have in common?

They all grew-up in blended or stepfamilies. 

Lisa Wilson, the …

026 Robert Middlekauff, Washington's Revolution

April 21st, 2015


What drove George Washington to become a Patriot during the American Revolution?

How did he overcome the ill-trained and inexperienced troops, …

025 Jessica Parr, Inventing George Whitefield

April 14th, 2015


Do you know who George Whitefield was?

George Whitefield stood as one of the most visible figures in British North America between the 1740s and 1770. He was a central figure in the trans-Atlantic revivalist movement …

Bonus: Longfellow's Wayside Inn

April 10th, 2015


In this bonus episode, we explore a listener requested topic of colonial inns and taverns by investigating the history of the oldest inn still in …

024 Kimberly Alexander, 18th-Century Fashion and Material Culture

April 7th, 2015


What can John Hancock’s suit tell you about the man who wore it?

The clothing a person wears tells you a lot about them: Whether they are rich or …

023 Early American History with the JuntoCast

March 31st, 2015


Have you ever wondered what happens when four historians get together to talk about early American history?

In this episode, we chat with three young and promising historians of early America: Michael Hattem, Roy Rogers

022 Vivian Bruce Conger, Deborah Read Franklin & Sally Franklin Bache: Benjamin Franklin's Women

March 24th, 2015


Have you heard the saying that behind every great man stands a great woman?

Vivian Bruce Conger, the Robert Ryan Professor in the Humanities at …

021 Eugene Tesdahl, Smuggling in Colonial America & Living History

March 17th, 2015


Do you know that John Hancock was a smuggler?

Smuggling presented a large problem for the imperial governments of Great Britain and France during the …

020 Kyle T. Bulthuis, Four Steeples Over the City Streets

March 10th, 2015


Have you ever wondered about how early American men, women, and slaves worshipped?

Religion played a large role in why some Europeans settled in …

019 Kenneth Turino, The Colonial Boston Marketplace

March 3rd, 2015


Have you ever wondered where colonial Americans purchased their food?

Although many colonial Americans lived in rural areas or on farms where they …

018 Danielle Allen, Our Declaration

February 24th, 2015


Do you know who authored the Declaration of Independence?

If you answered “Thomas Jefferson,” you would be wrong. Jefferson merely wrote the first …

017 François Furstenberg, When the United States Spoke French

February 17th, 2015


Parlez-vous Français? 

Do you speak French?

Believe it or not in the 1790s many Americans spoke French. They may not have spoken the French language, …

016 Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832

February 10th, 2015


The United States claimed victory in the War of 1812, but did you know that the British nearly won the war by promising freedom to escaped slaves in …

015 Joyce E. Chaplin, Round About the Earth: Circumnavigation from Magellan to Orbit

February 3rd, 2015


In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue as part of the great European quest to find new routes and shortcuts to the spice islands and …

014 Claudio Saunt, West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776

January 27th, 2015


Did you know that Russian activities in North America caused the Spanish to colonize California?

When we think of North America in 1776, our minds …

013 Rachel Hope Cleves, Charity & Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America

January 20th, 2015


We tend to view gay marriage as a cultural and legal development of the 21st century. 

But did you know that some early Americans lived openly in …

012 Dane Morrison, True Yankees: The South Seas and the Discovery of American Identity

January 13th, 2015


Did you know that Americans undertook their first trade mission to China in February 1784?

In fact, a mercantile partnership led by Robert Morris sent the Empress of China, a 360 ton ship to Canton, China one month and …

011 Jessica Baumert, The Woodlands Historic Site of Philadelphia

January 6th, 2015


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania plays host to many historic sites associated with our early American history: Carpenters Hall, Independence Hall, and the …

010 Don N. Hagist, British Soldiers, American War: Voices of the American Revolution

December 30th, 2014


What about the British Redcoats?

When we discuss the military history of the American War for Independence, we tend to focus on specific battles or details about the men who served in George Washington’s Continental …

009 Peter G. Rose, Delicious December

December 16th, 2014


 “’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house/ Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse./ The stockings were hung by the …

008 Gregory O'Malley, Final Passages: The Intercolonial Slave Trade of British America, 1619-1807

December 2nd, 2014


The Middle Passage forced millions of African men, women, and children to migrate across the Atlantic Ocean, but did you know that there existed an even more deadly voyage for slaves?

For many Africans the journey into …

007 Sara Georgini, John Adams & The Adams Papers Editorial Project

November 18th, 2014


The United States declared independence from Great Britain in July 1776, but the King and Parliament of Great Britain did not recognize this …

006 Gregory N. Flemming, At the Point of a Cutlass

November 4th, 2014


Arrr, so ye like pirates do ye?

Did ye know that as much as 33% of pirate crews were made up of captured seamen, not pirates?

We’ll be talking about …

005 Jeanne Abrams, Revolutionary Medicine

October 21st, 2014


You likely know the names of George and Martha Washington, John and Abigail Adams, and James and Dolley Madison, as the names of a few of the …

004 Thomas A Foster, Sex and the Founding Fathers

September 30th, 2014


Did you know that most biographies about the founders of the United States reveal more about the Americans who wrote the biographies than about the true character of the founders themselves?

Thomas A. Foster, …

003 Richard S. Newman, Future of the Library Company of Philadelphia

September 28th, 2014


Benjamin Franklin founded the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1731. Today, you can visit his library and its amazing collections, which begs the …

002 Cornelia King, Exhibitions at the Library Company of Philadelphia

September 28th, 2014


Have you ever walked through a museum and wondered why its staff chose to feature the artifacts you saw?

Cornelia King, Chief of Reference at the Library Company of Philadelphia discusses “That’s So Gay: Outing Early …

001 James N. Green, History of the Library Company of Philadelphia

September 27th, 2014


Dd you know that Ben Franklin founded the first successful lending library in North America?

With James N. Green, Librarian at the Library Company of …

000 Pilot- Ben Franklin's World with Liz Covart

September 27th, 2014


Host Liz Covart welcomes you to Ben Franklin's World: A Podcast About Early American History. Liz describes the show and reveals what what you can expect to discover in future episodes. 

Show Notes: 

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