Episodes
Published 05/24/22
This is an episode you’ve been waiting for! Mark Tabbert, the Director of Archives and Exhibits at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association and the author of Almanac of American Freemasonry and A Deserving Brother: George Washington and Freemasonry, joins us so we can investigate and better understand Freemasonry and its role in Early America. Show Notes: https://www.benfranklinsworld.com/329 Join Ben Franklin's World! Subscribe and help us bring history right to...
Published 05/24/22
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 us to explore the lives and experiences of free people of color, men and women who ranked somewhere in the middle or middle bottom of early...
Published 05/10/22
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 We know historians, museum curators, and archivists rely on historical documents and objects to find and learn information about the past.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 worked alongside Ken Burns to produce a 2-episode documentary about the life of Benjamin Franklin. The documentary is called Benjamin Franklin...
Published 04/26/22
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 nuclear weapons? While the situation in Ukraine is new and novel, Americans’ desire to assist other nations seeking to create or preserve their...
Published 04/12/22
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 Revolution, joins us to explore and discuss answers to these questions so that we can better see and understand the American Revolution as a whole...
Published 03/29/22
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 take shape? In what ways did the Dutch West India Company and private individuals use enslaved labor to develop the colony? Andrea Mosterman, an...
Published 03/15/22
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 States. The lands it sought to claim by right of treaty belonged to Indigenous peoples. Michael Witgen, a Professor of History at Columbia...
Published 03/01/22
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 their lives and escape experiences? Karen Cook-Bell, an Associate Professor of History at Bowie State University and author of Running From...
Published 02/15/22
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? To help us investigate this question, we are joined by Martha S. Jones, the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of...
Published 02/01/22
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? To help us investigate this question, we are joined by Martha S. Jones, the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of...
Published 02/01/22
Thank you for your support! Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706. In honor of Franklin’s birthday, this bonus episode takes a further look at Ben’s culinary preferences with culinary historian Rae Katherine Eighmey. Show Notes: https://www.benfranklinsworld.com/221
Published 01/28/22
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, Philadelphia, London, and Passy, France. In honor of Benjamin Franklin’s 316th birthday, Márcia Balisciano, the Founding Director of the Benjamin...
Published 01/18/22
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 kind of relationship and exchange did early Cuba have with British North America and the early United States? Ada Ferrer, a Professor of...
Published 01/04/22
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. Geneviéve National Historical Park. Show Notes: https://www.benfranklinsworld.com/318
Published 12/31/21
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 Casey, an interpretative ranger at the Ste. Geneviéve National Historical Park, joins us to explore the early American history of Ste. Geneviéve.
Published 12/21/21
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 history and experiences of Jews in early America and their contributions to the American Revolution and the founding of the United States.
Published 12/07/21
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, author of Necropolis: Disease, Power, and Capitalism in the Cotton Kingdom, leads us on an exploration of yellow fever, immunity, and inequality in early New Orleans.
Published 11/23/21
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 joins us to explore his patriotic philanthropy and the history of the American democracy with details from his book, The American Experiment: Dialogues on a Dream.
Published 11/09/21
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.
Published 11/02/21
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
Published 10/29/21
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 joins us to investigate Native American experiences in early American cities with details from his book, “The Chiefs Now In This City”: Indians and the Urban Frontier in Early America.
Published 10/26/21
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 Olgivie, one of early America's first bonafide celebrities.
Published 10/19/21
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, the podcaster behind the award-winning podcast The History of Rome and the popular podcast Revolutions, joins us to investigate the life of the Marquis de Lafayette with details from his book, Hero of Two Worlds: The Marquis de Lafayette in the Age of Revolution.
Published 10/12/21
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, author of the book, The Ledger and the Chain: How Domestic Slave Traders Shaped America, leads us on an exploration of the United States’ domestic slave trade and the lives of three slave traders who helped to define this trade. 
Published 09/28/21