This week we delve into a topic we’ve been promising to cover for some time, the Second Great Awakening. This was the religious movement in the United States that spawned the Mormons and Adventists as well as the evangelical factions of more mainline churches. It truly was a time when American Christianity came into its own. As always, though, we’ll complicate things a bit and talk about the First Great Awakening and other religious movements before the founding of the United States.
Episode 45 – A History of Mormonism in America – Part 2
This week we wrap up a very brief introductory history of Mormonism in America. We continue the story from the previous episode with the church’s reaction to the murder of Joseph Smith. We trace the rise of Brigham Young and the infamous Utah War. We end with the twentieth century church and its transition from fringe group to conservative religion.
Episode 44 – A History of Mormons in America – Part 1
Join us for the first in a two-part series about a uniquely American religion, the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, or Mormonism. In this episode we discuss the origins of the religion and the competing threads of official church history, non-official folklore, personal accounts, and governmental records and interactions to construct a more complete picture of how this religion developed.
Episode 43 – More Cults in the 20th Century
We continue our exploration of the history of cults in America this week with a discussion of two infamous groups from the 1990s: The Branch Davidians and Heaven’s Gate. Both cults ended in the deaths of their charismatic leaders, but the trajectories were quite different. If you’re interested in the militia movement, UFOs, Nike sneakers, Star Trek, the Book of Revelations, the FBI, or how to get cheap real estate in Southern California you should join us this week!
Episode 42 – Cults in 20th Century America
This week we continue the discussion we started last time about utopian experiments and cults by covering two of the most fascinating and disturbing figures of the twentieth century, Jim Jones and Charles Manson. What made these two men turn to violence and how did their lives and the people they convinced to do unspeakable things reveal deep fissures and anxieties in post-war America. Join us this week to find out.
So, this week we start a little series about cults in American history, but this first episode took a slight detour into a more general discussion of utopian communities in America, particularly in the nineteenth century. We discuss Oneida, Harmony, and New Harmony, among others. We also trace the way religion and the Second Great Awakening shaped utopian ideas including the concept of moral perfectionism.
Episode 40 – Baseball
To celebrate spring and the return of America’s pastime, we’re delving into the history of baseball this week. From its origins as a children’s game in England to a powerful tool of imperialism, baseball has it all.
Episode 39 – Taxes
Death and Taxes. Is that all we can be sure of? In honor of traditional Tax Day (April 15), we present a history of taxes in the United States. Tariffs, excises, income taxes, anti-government movements, rebellions, paying for the military and infrastructure, they’re all on the list of topics we cover in this week’s episode.
Episode 38 – The Vietnam War
Join us for a deep dive into the causes and effects of the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War from 1954 to 1975. Along the way we’ll discuss the aftermath of WWII and French attempts at renewing their empire in Southeast Asia. We’ll also talk about what Dwight Eisenhower defined as the Military Industrial Complex and how the machine of war may have prolonged US involvement in Vietnam. Finally, we’ll talk about some well-known but often misunderstood moments in the war like the My Lai Massacre.
Episode 37 – Women of the American Revolution
When people are asked to comment on the most famous figures of the American Revolution, the list is almost entirely men, with a few notable exceptions. Join us this week as we talk about the well-known women who participated and often literally fought during the American Revolution as well as some lesser-known women whose real stories are more fantastic than the myths surrounding Molly Pitcher and Betsy Ross. It’s all on this week’s episode!