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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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We know from our explorations of early America that not all Americans were treated equally or enjoyed the freedoms and liberties other Americans enjoyed. Warren Milteer Jr., an Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the author of North Carolina’s Free People of Color and Beyond Slavery’s Shadow, joins u…
 
How do we know what we know about Benjamin Franklin? We know historians, museum curators, and archivists rely on historical documents and objects to find and learn information about the past. But how does a documentary filmmaker present what they know about history through video? David Schmidt works as a senior producer at Florentine Films where he…
 
With Ukrainian sovereignty and democracy under attack, Americans have been wondering: Should our government be doing more than placing economic sanctions on Russia? Should I, as U.S. military veteran, travel to Ukraine and offer to fight in their army? What would official U.S. military involvement mean for the politics of Europe and in our age of n…
 
What do we know about the American Revolution? Why is it important that we see the Revolution as a political event, a war, a time of social and economic reform, and as a time of violence and upheaval? Woody Holton, a Professor of History at the University of South Carolina and the author of Liberty is Sweet: The Hidden History of the American Revol…
 
After Henry Hudson’s 1609-voyage along the river that now bears his name, Dutch traders began to visit and trade at the area they called New Netherland. In 1614, the Dutch established a trading post near present-day Albany, New York. In 1624, the Dutch West India Company built the settlement of New Amsterdam. How did the colony of New Netherland ta…
 
In the Treaty of Paris, 1783, Great Britain ceded to the United States all lands east of the Mississippi River and between the southern borders of Canada and Georgia. How would the United States take advantage of its new boundaries and incorporate these lands within its governance? Answering this question presented a quandary for the young United S…
 
During the War for American Independence, the British Army attempted to create chaos and inflict economic damage to the revolutionaries’ war effort by issuing two proclamations that promised freedom to any enslaved person who ran away from their revolutionary owners. How did enslaved people make their escape to British lines? What do we know about …
 
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 this episode, we explore Douglass’ thoughtful question within the context of Early America: What did the Fourth of July mean for African Americans in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries…
 
Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston on January 17, 1706, to Abiah Folger and Josiah Franklin. Although Franklin began his life as the youngest son of a youngest son, he traveled through many parts of what is now the northeastern United States and the Province of Quebec and lived in four different cities in three different countries: Boston, Philad…
 
One of the Caribbean islands that Christopher Columbus stopped at during his 1492-voyage was an alligator-shaped island that sits at the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico in between the Yucatán and Florida peninsulas. This is, of course, is the island of Cuba. What do we know about early Cuba, the island the Spanish described as the “Key to the Indies?” …
 
What challenges do National Park Service interpretive rangers face when they interpret non-British colonial history? How did the relationships between Ste. Geneviéve's inhabitants and Indigenous peoples change over time? NPS Interpretive Ranger Claire Casey is back to answer more of your questions about colonial Ste. Geneviéve, Missouri and the Ste…
 
About 620 miles north of New Orleans and 62 miles south of St. Louis, sits the town of Ste. Geneviéve, Missouri. Established in 1750 by the French, Ste. Geneviéve reveals much about what it was like to establish a colony in the heartland of North America and what it was like for colonists to live so far removed from seats of imperial power. Claire …
 
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…
 
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…
 
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