J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, May 09, 2021

Some Podcast Episodes to Sample

I’m sure everyone reading this has sampled several early American history podcasts. There really is a plethora of them, from both individuals and institutions.

Here are a few recommendations of individual podcast episodes that I recently found interesting. They may have slipped by because they appeared in the series unaccountably not devoted to the history of the early America or Boston.

History Extra’s Matt Elton spoke with Jeremy Black about Sir Robert Walpole, who served as prime minister of Great Britain from 1721 to 1742. Prof. Black presented the case that Walpole, the first man to hold that power (even before the term “prime minister” became codified) is still the greatest. Other historians will speak up for other prime ministers, but since this series is linked to the 300th anniversary of Walpole coming to power, he does seem to have a head start.

On the BBC’s In Our Time, Melvyn Bragg conversed with Kathleen Burk of University College London, Frank Cogliano of the University of Edinburgh, and Michael Rapport at the University of Glasgow about the Franco-American Alliance of 1778, what led up to it and what results it produced for all the parties involved. The end of that treaty of amity in the 1790s raised the question of whether the young republic had made an agreement with the nation of France or simply its monarchy. For pragmatic and perhaps temperamental reasons, Washington chose to interpret the situation in the second way.

On Mainely History, host Ian Saxine and Prof. Andrew Wehrman discussed the controversies of smallpox inoculation, not just in Maine but also not neglecting that district. Wehrman notes that by the late 1700s colonial Americans understood the benefits of inoculation, but they also recognized that it carried risks both to individuals an to surrounding communities, so they were ready to protest inoculation efforts that seems risky or inequitable.

The Library Company of Philadelphia’s Talking in the Library series shared a 2020 talk by Prof. Sally Hadden about two rising young attorneys in federal Boston—Harrison Gray Otis and Christopher Gore. Both represented Loyalists trying to regain the rights to their property, and they used that business to build their own wealth before going into politics.

All of these podcasts are available through multiple platforms and apps, so you should be able to find them by search. But I’ve included direct links in each description for people who prefer that route.

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