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Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history. It is a show 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 a conversation with an historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
 
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The first Jewish colonists in North America arrived in 1654. From that moment, Jews worked to build and contribute to early American society and the birth of the United States. Gemma Birnbaum and Melanie Meyers, the Executive Director and Director of Collections and Engagement at the American Jewish Historical Society, join us to explore the histor…
 
In 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France. This purchase included the important port city of New Orleans. But the United States did not just acquire the city’s land, peoples, and wealth– the American government also inherited the city’s Yellow Fever problem. Kathryn Olivarius, an Assistant Professor of History at Stan…
 
What has enabled the American experiment in democracy to endure for nearly 250 years? What is it about early American history that captivates peoples’ attention and makes them want to support the creation of historical scholarship and the sharing of historical knowledge? David M. Rubenstein, the co-founder and co-chairman of The Carlyle Group and a…
 
The Massachusetts Historical Society has a podcast! In this bonus episode of Ben Franklin's World, we'll introduce you to The Object of History, with a full-episode preview of "Episode 4: A Miniature Portrait of Elizabeth Freeman." For more information about this new podcast and how to subscribe visit: https://masshist.org/podcast.…
 
We rejoin Colin Calloway, Professor of History and Native American Studies at Dartmouth College, in this bonus episode so he can answer more of your questions about Native American experiences in early American cities. Show Notes: https://www.benfranklinsworld.com/314 Join Ben Franklin's World! Subscribe and help us bring history right to your ears…
 
Have you ever considered early American cities as places where Native Americans lived, worked, and visited? Native Americans often visited early American cities and port towns, especially the towns and cities that dotted the Atlantic seaboard of British North America. Colin Calloway, an award-winning historian and a Professor History and Native Ame…
 
Welcome to OI Reads, an occasional series on Ben Franklin's World where we introduce you to new books that we'll think you love and that are published by the Omohundro Institute. Using details from her book, The Strange Genius of Mr. O, Carolyn Eastman, a Professor of History at Virginia Commonwealth University, acquaints us with James Ogilvie, one…
 
You know “America’s favorite fighting Frenchman” is the Marquis de Lafayette. But what do you know about Lafayette and his life? How and why did this French-born noble end up fighting in the American Revolution? Mike Duncan, a self-described history geek, public historian, and the podcaster behind the award-winning podcast The History of Rome and t…
 
The transatlantic slave trade dominated in North America during the 17th and 18th centuries. But by 1808, a different slave trade came to dominate in the young United States, the domestic or internal slave trade. Joshua D. Rothman, an award-winning historian, Professor of History at the University of Alabama, and author of the book, The Ledger and …
 
Investigations of the American Revolution often include explorations of politics, ideology, trade and taxation, imperial control, and social strife. What about religion? What role did religion play in the American Revolution? Katherine Carté, an Associate Professor of History at Southern Methodist University and the author of Religion and the Ameri…
 
To understand early American history, we need to investigate and understand North America as an Indigenous space. A place where Native American populations, politics, religion, and trade networks prevailed for centuries before and after the arrival of Europeans and enslaved Africans. In this episode, we travel into the heart of the North American c…
 
By the eighteenth century, the Atlantic Ocean had become a busy highway of ships crisscrossing its waters. What do we know about the ships that made these transatlantic voyages and connected the eighteenth-century British Atlantic world through trade, people, and information? Phillip Reid, a historian of the Atlantic World and maritime technology a…
 
The story of freedom in colonial New Orleans and Louisiana pivoted on the choices black women made to retain control of their bodies, families, and futures. How did black women in colonial Louisiana navigate French and Spanish black and slavery codes to retain control of their bodies, families, and futures? Jessica Marie Johnson, Assistant Professo…
 
In Episode 307, Michael Hattem helped us investigate the role history played in the American Revolution and the ways early historians used history as a tool to unite Americans as one people after the Revolution. This bonus episode brings us back together with Michael Hattem so we can explore a few topics we didn’t have time to explore in our full-l…
 
The story of the founding of the United States is a familiar one. It usually (but not always) begins with the English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, describes the founding and development of thirteen British North American colonies that hugged North America’s eastern seaboard, and then delves into the imperial reforms and conflicts that…
 
The words of the Declaration of Independence are not the only aspect of the American Revolution that carry power. Visual and material objects from during and after the Revolution also carry power and meaning. Objects like monuments, uniforms, muskets, powder horns, and the Horse’s Tail, a remnant of a grand equestrian statue of King George III, whi…
 
Death is one of the few universals in life. Everyone who is born, will die. How do the living make peace with death? While different cultures make peace with death in different ways, Erik Seeman joins us to investigate how white, American Protestants made their peace with death during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Erik Seem…
 
Juneteenth is a state holiday that commemorates June 19, 1865, the day slavery ended in Texas. Over the last decade, a push to make Juneteenth a national holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States has gained momentum. What do we know about Juneteenth and its origins? Annette Gordon-Reed, an award-winning historian at Harvard Uni…
 
The Mississippi Gulf Coast was the home of many different peoples, cultures, and empires during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. According to some historians, the Gulf Coast region may have been the most diverse region in early North America. Matthew Powell, a historian of slavery and southern history and the Executive Director of the La P…
 
Before its eradication in 1980, smallpox was the most feared disease in many parts of the world. Known as the “king of terrors” and the “disease of diseases” the search for a way to lessen and avoid smallpox was on! How did vaccination come about? What are vaccination’s connections to smallpox inoculation? And how did news and practice of vaccinati…
 
Smallpox was the most feared disease in North America and in many parts of the world before its eradication in 1980. So how did early Americans live with smallpox and work to prevent it? How did they help eradicate this terrible disease? Over the next two episodes, we’ll explore smallpox in North America. We’ll investigate how smallpox came to Nort…
 
What do historians wish more people better understood about early American history and why do they wish people had that better understanding? In celebration of the 300th episode of Ben Franklin’s World, we posed these questions to more than 30 scholars. What do they think? Join the celebration to discover more about Early America and take a behind-…
 
What can a portrait reveal about the history of colonial British America? Portraits were both deeply personal and yet collaborative artifacts left behind by people of the past. When historians look at multiple portraits created around the same time and place, their similarities can reveal important social connections, trade relationships, or cultur…
 
Have you ever stopped to think about how the United States became a manufacturing nation? Have you ever wondered how the United States developed not just products, but the technologies, knowledge, and machinery necessary to manufacture or produce various products? Lindsay Schakenbach Regele has. Lindsay is an Associate Professor of History at Miami…
 
The history of Native American land dispossession is as old as the story of colonization. European colonists came to the Americas, and the Caribbean, wanting land for farms and settlement so they found ways to acquire lands from indigenous peoples by the means of negotiation, bad-faith dealing, war, and violence. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 is d…
 
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 they happened? Serena Zabin, a Professor of History at Carleton College in Minnesota and the author of the award-winning book, The…
 
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 in Dakar, Senegal, author of the book, Bouki Fait Gombo: A History of the Slave Community of Habitation Haydel (Whitney Plantation)…
 
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 Tea Crisis, 1775 and the start of what would become the War for American Independence, or 1776, the year the United States declared independence. Award-winning historian Mary Beth Norton, the Mary Donl…
 
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 ardent and best supporters of the island’s practice of slavery. Christine Walker, an Assistant Professor of History at the Yale-NUS College in Singapore and the author of the award-winning book, Jamai…
 
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 explains the everyday as much as the goods in people’s lives. Glenn Adamson, author of Craft: An American History, joins us to investigate…
 
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 World of the Wampanoag series: Jade Luiz, Curator of Collections at the Plimoth Patuxet Museums, and Lorén Spears, Executive Director of the Tomaquag Museum in Rhode Island. Both Jade and Lorén help us e…
 
Before New England was New England, it was the Dawnland. A region that remains the homeland of numerous Native American peoples, including the Wampanoag. When the English colonists arrived at Patuxet 400 years ago, they arrived at a confusing time. The World of the Wampanoag people had changed in the wake of a destabilizing epidemic. This episode i…
 
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 Wampanoag before and after 1620, a year that saw approximately 100 English colonists enter the Wampanoags’ world. Those English colonists…
 
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 speculators the chance to profit and enslaved men and women a chance for freedom in colonial British America and the early United States. Marcus Nevius, an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Rh…
 
In what ways did the Atlantic World contribute to the American Revolution? Empire, slavery, and constant warfare interacted with each other in the Atlantic World. Which brings us to our question: In what ways did the Atlantic World and its issues contribute to the American Revolution? Tyson Reeder, an editor of the Papers of James Madison and an af…
 
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 in December 2020.由Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
 
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 Matt Wasniewski and Historical Publications Specialist Terrance Rucker answer your questions about the early history of the United Sta…
 
For four months during the summer of 1787, delegates from the thirteen states met in Philadelphia to craft a revised Constitution that would define the government of the United States. It took them nearly the entire time to settle on the method for selecting the President, the Chief Executive. What they came up with is a system of indirect election…
 
Who is American democracy for and who could participate in early American democracy? Women and African Americans were often barred from voting in colonial and early republic elections. But what about Native Americans? Could Native Americans participate in early American democracy? Julie Reed, an Assistant Professor of History at the Pennsylvania St…
 
Independence from Great Britain provided the former British American colonists the opportunity to create a new, more democratic government than they had lived under before the American Revolution. What did this new American government look like? Who could participate in this new American democracy? And what was it like to participate in this new de…
 
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 treated equally or allowed to participate in representative government. So who could vote in Early America? Who could participate in representative government? Historians James Kloppenberg, the Charles…
 
On Friday, September 18, 2020, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, died. Justice Ginsburg's death has caused a lot of debate about whether the President should appoint a new justice to fill her seat and, if he does appoint someone, whether the Senate should vote on the President’s nomination before the elec…
 
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 Island were highly contested regions. In fact, the way France and Great Britain fought for presence and control of this region places …
 
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 Island were highly contested regions. In fact, the way France and Great Britain fought for presence and control of this region places …
 
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 the island of Jamaica, the reverberations of this revolt stretched across the Atlantic Ocean and into the British North American colonies. Vincent Brown, the Charles Warren Professor of American Histo…
 
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 Rosenthal, an Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley and the author of Accounting for Slavery: Masters a…
 
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 can strive to be who we want to be as a nation and people. Rick Atkinson, a three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a journalist who has worked at The Washington Post, and the author of The British Are …
 
Thank You for being a Ben Franklin's World subscriber! We really appreciate your support. In this bonus episode, Kimberly Alexander discusses how shoes can help us better understand social class and privilege in Early America, whether we can use the terms cobblers and cordwainers interchangeably, and whether early American shoemakers made shoes for…
 
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 U.S. government who advise the president on how to handle matters of foreign and domestic policy. Today, we investigate Washington’s c…
 
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 among different groups of early Americans living in 17th and 18th-century North America. Sarah Pearsall, a University Teaching Officer, Fellow, and Historian at the University of Cambridge, joins us to …
 
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