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The Age of Jackson Podcast

  • 149 The Tormented Rise of Abolition in Andrew Jackson's America with J.D. Dickey

    11 MAR 2022 · The 1830s were the most violent time in American history outside of war. Men battled each other in the streets in ethnic and religious conflicts, gangs of party henchmen rioted at the ballot box, and assault and murder were common enough as to seem unremarkable. The president who presided over the era, Andrew Jackson, was himself a duelist and carried lead in his body from previous gunfights. It all made for such a volatile atmosphere that a young Abraham Lincoln said “outrages committed by mobs form the every-day news of the times.” The principal targets of mob violence were abolitionists and black citizens, who had begun to question the foundation of the U.S. economy — chattel slavery — and demand an end to it. Led by figures like William Lloyd Garrison and James Forten, the anti-slavery movement grew from a small band of committed activists to a growing social force that attracted new followers in the hundreds, and enemies in the thousands. Even in the North, abolitionists faced almost unimaginable hatred, with newspaper publishers, businessmen with a stake in the slave trade, and politicians of all stripes demanding they be suppressed, silenced or even executed. Carrying bricks and torches, guns and knives, mobs created pandemonium, and forced the abolition movement to answer key questions as it began to grow: Could nonviolence work in the face of arson and attempted murder? Could its leaders stick together long enough to build a movement with staying power, or would they turn on each other first? And could it survive to last through the decade, and inspire a new generation of activists to fight for the cause? J.D. Dickey reveals the stories of these Black and white men and women persevered against such threats to demand that all citizens be given the chance for freedom and liberty embodied in the Declaration of Independence. Their sacrifices and strategies would set a precedent for the social movements to follow, and lead the nation toward war and emancipation, in the most turbulent era of our republic of violence. - J. D. Dickey is the New York Times bestselling author of Empire of Mud, a history of the troubled rise of Washington, D.C., in the nineteenth century, Rising in Flames: Sherman’s March and the Fight for a New Nation and American Demagogue, both published by Pegasus Books.
    Played 1h 2m 55s
  • 148 William Hunter, A British Soldier's Son Who Became an Early American with Eugene A. Procknow

    4 MAR 2022 · In June 1798, President John Adams signed the now infamous Alien & Sedition Acts to suppress political dissent. Facing imminent personal risks, a gutsy Kentucky newspaper editor ran the first editorial denouncing the law's attempt to stifle the freedom of the press. Almost immediately, government lawyers recommended his arrest and prosecution.That editor was William Hunter, amazingly, the son of a British soldier. During the American Revolution, he accompanied his father on a campaign to fight the American Rebels. Witnessing first-hand the terrors of combat and twice experiencing capture, Hunter wrote the only surviving account written by a child of a British soldier during the American Revolution. Previously unknown, the journal is one of the most important document discoveries in recent years.Remarkably immigrating to an enemy country, Hunter started the second newspaper west of the Alleghenies in Pennsylvania. Moving to Kentucky's capital, Hunter spoke his mind as a newspaper editor, took entrepreneurial risks, and helped start educational and civic institutions. Particularly compelling, Hunter overcame two major personal setbacks that tarnished his character and left him bankrupt. Each time, he tenaciously persevered and regained prominent stature.Later, Hunter became an elected Kentucky representative, a staunch Andrew Jackson supporter, and moved to Washington, DC, to root out fraud and waste in his administration. Beyond the well-known founders, William Hunter represents a previously underappreciated community leader who made essential contributions to developing democratic and civic institutions in Early America.
    Played 51m 44s
  • 147 John Leland: A Jeffersonian Baptist in Early America with Eric C. Smith

    11 FEB 2022 · John Leland (1754-1841) was one of the most influential and entertaining religious figures in early America. As an itinerant revivalist, he demonstrated an uncanny ability to connect with a popular audience, and contributed to the rise of a "democratized" Christianity in America. A tireless activist for the rights of conscience, Leland also waged a decades-long war for disestablishment, first in Virginia and then in New England. Leland advocated for full religious freedom for all-not merely Baptists and Protestants-and reportedly negotiated a deal with James Madison to include a Bill of Rights in the Constitution. Leland developed a reputation for being "mad for politics" in early America, delivering political orations, publishing tracts, and mobilizing New England's Baptists on behalf of the Jeffersonian Republicans. He crowned his political activity by famously delivering a 1,200-pound cheese to Thomas Jefferson's White House. Leland also stood among eighteenth-century Virginia's most powerful anti-slavery advocates, and convinced one wealthy planter to emancipate over 400 of his slaves. Though among the most popular Baptists in America, Leland's fierce individualism and personal eccentricity often placed him at odds with other Baptist leaders. He refused ordination, abstained from the Lord's Supper, and violently opposed the rise of Baptist denominationalism. In the first-ever biography of Leland, Eric C. Smith recounts the story of this pivotal figure from American Religious History, whose long and eventful life provides a unique window into the remarkable transformations that swept American society from 1760 to 1840. - Eric C. Smith is the Senior Pastor of Sharon Baptist Church in Savannah, Tennessee, and a historian of American Baptists and early American religion. He is also the author of Oliver Hart and the Rise of Baptist America (OUP, 2020) and Order & Ardor: The Revival Spirituality of Oliver Hart and the Regular Baptists of Eighteenth-Century South Carolina (USC Press, 2018). He and his wife, Candace, have three children.
    Played 59m 12s
  • Explicit

    146 The Evolution of American Equality with Michael A. Bellesiles

    4 FEB 2022 · The evolution of the battle for true equality in America seen through the men, ideas, and politics behind the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments passed at the end of the Civil War. On July 4, 1852, Frederick Douglass stood in front of a crowd in Rochester, New York, and asked, “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” The audience had invited him to speak on the day celebrating freedom, and had expected him to offer a hopeful message about America; instead, he’d offered back to them their own hypocrisy. How could the Constitution defend both freedom and slavery? How could it celebrate liberty with one hand while withdrawing it with another? Theirs was a country which promoted and even celebrated inequality. From the very beginning, American history can be seen as a battle to reconcile the large gap between America’s stated ideals and the reality of its republic. Its struggle is not one of steady progress toward greater freedom and equality, but rather for every step forward there is a step taken in a different direction. In Inventing Equality, Michael Bellesiles traces the evolution of the battle for true equality—the stories of those fighting forward, to expand the working definition of what it means to be an American citizen—from the Revolution through the late nineteenth century. He identifies the systemic flaws in the Constitution, and explores through the role of the Supreme Court and three Constitutional amendments—the 13th, 14th, and 15th—the ways in which equality and inequality waxed and waned over the decades. - MICHAEL BELLESILES, once a visiting professor at Trinity College in Connecticut and a professor of history at Emory University, is the author of numerous books on American history―including 1877 and A People’s History of the U.S. Military. Bellesiles received his BA from the University of California–Santa Cruz and his PhD from the University of California at Irvine. He lives in Connecticut.
    Played 1h 17s
  • 145 Cronyism in Early America with Patrick Newman

    17 DEC 2021 · Cronyism: Liberty versus Power in America 1607-1849 describes the evolution of political favor seeking in early American history, from the colonial era to the Mexican War. Newman argues that cronyism emerged from the perennial clash between the forces of liberty and power. When the interventionist Federalists, National Republicans, and Whigs controlled the government, special-interest policies—central banking, protective tariffs, businesses subsidies, territorial expansion, and so on—drastically increased. However, after the libertarian Jeffersonian Republicans and Jacksonian Democrats assumed the command posts, cronyism only moderately declined before resuming its upward march. “Power,” Lord Acton teaches us, “tends to corrupt,” and slowly but surely the proponents of limited government turned into the privilege granting parties they previously despised. - Patrick is Assistant Professor of Economics at Florida Southern College. He completed his PhD in the Department of Economics at George Mason University.
    Played 55m 23s
  • 144 The Young America Movement and the Transformation of the Democratic Party with Yonatan Eyal

    10 DEC 2021 · The phrase 'Young America' connoted territorial and commercial expansion in the antebellum United States. During the years leading up to the Civil War, it permeated various parts of the Democratic party, producing new perspectives in the realms of economics, foreign policy, and constitutionalism. Led by figures such as Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois and editor John L. O'Sullivan of New York, Young America Democrats gained power during the late 1840s and early 1850s. They challenged a variety of orthodox Jacksonian assumptions, influencing both the nation's foreign policy and its domestic politics. This 2007 book offers an exclusively political history of Young America's impact on the Democratic Party, complementing existing studies of the literary and cultural dimensions of this group. This close look at the Young America Democracy sheds light on the political realignments of the 1850s and the coming of the Civil War, in addition to showcasing the origins of America's longest existing political party. - Trained as an historian of nineteenth-century America, Dr. Eyal joined the Graduate School as its inaugural Director of Graduate Studies in 2015. He has served as a history professor and published a book and numerous articles and reviews on the politics of Jacksonian and Civil War America. An award-winning educator, he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on the American Revolution, the Civil War and Reconstruction and topics in American political and intellectual history.
    Played 1h 13m 53s
  • 143 The Bible, the Constitution, and Historical Consciousness in Antebellum America with Jordan T. Watkins

    19 NOV 2021 · In the decades before the Civil War, Americans appealed to the nation's sacred religious and legal texts - the Bible and the Constitution - to address the slavery crisis. The ensuing political debates over slavery deepened interpreters' emphasis on historical readings of the sacred texts, and in turn, these readings began to highlight the unbridgeable historical distances that separated nineteenth-century Americans from biblical and founding pasts. While many Americans continued to adhere to a belief in the Bible's timeless teachings and the Constitution's enduring principles, some antislavery readers, including Theodore Parker, Frederick Douglass, and Abraham Lincoln, used historical distance to reinterpret and use the sacred texts as antislavery documents. By using the debate over American slavery as a case study, Jordan T. Watkins traces the development of American historical consciousness in antebellum America, showing how a growing emphasis on historical readings of the Bible and the Constitution gave rise to a sense of historical distance. - Jordan T. Watkins is an assistant professor of church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University. Previously, he was a coeditor at The Joseph Smith Papers Project.
    Played 1h 11m 49s
  • 142 Free People of Color in the South with Warren E. Milteer Jr.

    12 NOV 2021 · On the eve of the Civil War, most people of color in the United States toiled in bondage. Yet nearly half a million of these individuals, including over 250,000 in the South, were free. In Beyond Slavery's Shadow, Warren Eugene Milteer Jr. draws from a wide array of sources to demonstrate that from the colonial period through the Civil War, the growing influence of white supremacy and proslavery extremism created serious challenges for free persons categorized as "negroes," "mulattoes," "mustees," "Indians," or simply "free people of color" in the South. Segregation, exclusion, disfranchisement, and discriminatory punishment were ingrained in their collective experiences. Nevertheless, in the face of attempts to deny them the most basic privileges and rights, free people of color defended their families and established organizations and businesses. These people were both privileged and victimized, both celebrated and despised, in a region characterized by social inconsistency. Milteer's analysis of the way wealth, gender, and occupation intersected with ideas promoting white supremacy and discrimination reveals a wide range of social interactions and life outcomes for the South's free people of color and helps to explain societal contradictions that continue to appear in the modern United States. - Warren E. Milteer Jr. is an assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the author of North Carolina’s Free People of Color, 1715–1885.
    Played 1h 2m 36s
  • 141 Elijah Lovejoy and the Fight for a Free Press in the Age of Slavery with Ken Ellingwood

    24 SEP 2021 · The history of the fight for free press has never been more vital in our own time, when journalists are targeted as “enemies of the people.” In this brilliant and rigorously researched history, award-winning journalist and author Ken Ellingwood animates the life and times of abolitionist newspaper editor Elijah Lovejoy. First to Fall illuminates this flawed yet heroic figure who made the ultimate sacrifice while fighting for free press rights in a time when the First Amendment offered little protection for those who dared to critique America’s “peculiar institution.” Culminating in Lovejoy’s dramatic clashes with the pro-slavery mob in Alton, Illinois—who were destroying printing press after printing press—First to Fall will bring Lovejoy, his supporters and his enemies to life during the raucous 1830s at the edge of slave country. It was a bloody period of innovation, conflict, violent politics, and painful soul-searching over pivotal issues of morality and justice. In the tradition of books like The Arc of Justice, First to Fall elevates a compelling, socially urgent narrative that has never received the attention it deserves. The book will aim to do no less than rescue Lovejoy from the footnotes of history and restore him as a martyr whose death was not only a catalyst for widespread abolitionist action, but also inaugurated the movement toward the free press protections we cherish so dearly today. - An award-winning journalist, Ken Ellingwood has been posted in the San Diego, Mexico City, Jerusalem, and Atlanta bureaus of the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of the critically acclaimed (and prescient) work of investigative journalism Hard Line: Life and Death on the U.S.-Mexico Border. He currently lives in Abu Dhabi.
    Played 1h 8m 32s
  • 140 Constitutionalism in the American Revolution with Gordon S. Wood

    10 SEP 2021 · The half century extending from the imperial crisis between Britain and its colonies in the 1760s to the early decades of the new republic of the United States was the greatest and most creative era of constitutionalism in American history, and perhaps in the world. During these decades, Americans explored and debated all aspects of politics and constitutionalism--the nature of power, liberty, representation, rights, the division of authority between different spheres of government, sovereignty, judicial authority, and written constitutions. The results of these issues produced institutions that have lasted for over two centuries. In this new book, eminent historian Gordon S. Wood distills a lifetime of work on constitutional innovations during the Revolutionary era. In concise form, he illuminates critical events in the nation's founding, ranging from the imperial debate that led to the Declaration of Independence to the revolutionary state constitution making in 1776 and the creation of the Federal Constitution in 1787. Among other topics, he discusses slavery and constitutionalism, the emergence of the judiciary as one of the major tripartite institutions of government, the demarcation between public and private, and the formation of states' rights. Here is an immensely readable synthesis of the key era in the making of the history of the United States, presenting timely insights on the Constitution and the nation's foundational legal and political documents. - Gordon S. Wood is the Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University. He is the author of many books, including The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787, which won the Bancroft Prize and the John H. Dunning Prize of the American Historical Association; The Radicalism of the American Revolution, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize; The American Revolution: A History; The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin; Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different, which was a New York Times bestseller; Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 (OUP, 2009), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the American History Book Prize from the New-York Historical Society; and Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. He is a regular reviewer for the New York Review of Books.
    Played 57m 34s
A Podcast on Antebellum America (ca.1812 - ca.1845) hosted by Daniel N. Gullotta and sponsored by Andrew Jackson's Hermitage​.
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