117 episodes

In each episode of In The Past Lane, the history podcast, we take up topics in American history and explore them through feature pieces, interviews, book and film reviews, and more. Our guiding philosophy is that history is not just about the past - it's about our world, here and now. History explains why things are the way they are, everything from our economy, religious practices, and foreign policy, to political ideology, family structure, and rates of poverty. Our aim is to be both informative and educational, as well as entertaining and funny. We hope you'll join us for memorable journeys In The Past Lane.

In The Past Lane - The Podcast About History and Why It Matters Edward T. O'Donnell

    • History
    • 4.6 • 217 Ratings

In each episode of In The Past Lane, the history podcast, we take up topics in American history and explore them through feature pieces, interviews, book and film reviews, and more. Our guiding philosophy is that history is not just about the past - it's about our world, here and now. History explains why things are the way they are, everything from our economy, religious practices, and foreign policy, to political ideology, family structure, and rates of poverty. Our aim is to be both informative and educational, as well as entertaining and funny. We hope you'll join us for memorable journeys In The Past Lane.

    Who Was Alexander Hamilton?

    Who Was Alexander Hamilton?

    In this episode of ITPL, we focus on Alexander Hamilton. You may have noticed that Hamilton has become the hottest Founder in recent years – and it’s all due to the smash Broadway hit, “Hamilton: The Musical.”
    So here’s the lineup:
    1. First, I provide a brief backgrounder on the remarkable life of Alexander Hamilton. 2. Second, I sit down with historian Stephen F. Knott to discuss his book, Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America (Sourcebooks, 2015). He and his co-author Tony Williams argue that the relationship between Washington and Hamilton had a major impact on the outcome of the American Revolution and the subsequent creation of the American republic.
    3. Finally, I drop by the one permanent site in Manhattan that’s dedicated to the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury. It’s the Hamilton Grange in Harlem. I speak with National Park Service ranger Liam Strain about the site’s history and how “Hamilton: The Musical” has dramatically increased visitor traffic at the site. You can find show notes for this episode and more information about the podcast at www.InThePastLane.com
    In The Past Lane is a production of Snoring Beagle International, Ltd.
    About Stephen F. Knott – website
    About the Hamilton Grange – website
    Further Reading
    Stephen F. Knott and Tony Williams, Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America (Sourcebooks, 2015)
    Ronald Chernow, Alexander Hamilton (Penguin, 2004)
    Joseph J. Ellis, The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 (2015)
    Thomas Fleming, The Great Divide: The Conflict between Washington and Jefferson that Defined a Nation (2015)
    Joanne B. Freeman, Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic
    Robert Middlekauff, The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 (2005)
    Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, Hamilton: The Revolution (2016)
    John Sedgwick, War of Two: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Duel that Stunned the Nation (2015)
    Jim Beckerman, “Hamilton Tourist Sites in New Jersey Ride the Wave of the Hit Musical,” Associated Press, Jun 12, 2016
    Linda Flanagan, “How Teachers Are Using ‘Hamilton’ the Musical in the Classroom,” KQED.org
    Valerie Strauss, “The unusual way Broadway’s ‘Hamilton’ is teaching U.S. history to kids,” Washington Post, June 28, 2016
    Music for This Episode
    Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (JayGMusic.com)
    Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)
    Doctor Turtle, “Often Outmumbled Never Outpunned” (Free Music Archive)
    Lee Rosevere, “Going Home” (Free Music Archive)
    The Bell, ”On The Street,” (Free Music Archive)
    The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)
    Production Credits
    Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer
    Associate Producer, Devyn McHugh
    Technical Advisors: Holly Hunt and Jesse Anderson
    Photographer: John Buckingham
    Graphic Designer: Maggie Cellucci
    Website by: ERI Design
    Legal services: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too
    Social Media management: The Pony Express
    Risk Assessment: Little Big Horn Associates
    Growth strategies: 54 40 or Fight
    © In The Past Lane 2020 

    • 52 min
    The Civil War Draft Riots

    The Civil War Draft Riots

    This week at In The Past Lane, the American History podcast, we take a look at a significant but often overlooked event during the Civil War, the Draft Riots of July 1863. Protests against drafting men into the Union Army broke out in many places, but the worst occurred in New York City. For four days rampaging crowds tore the city apart, destroying property and leading to the deaths of more than 100 people, including 11 African Americans who were lynched. To this day, the Draft Riots remain the largest civil uprising in US history.

    Feature Story: The Civil War Draft Riots
    On July 13, 1863 - 157 years ago this week - the streets of New York exploded in a violent episode known as the Draft Riots. It lasted four days and claimed the lives of more than one hundred people and destroyed millions of dollars in property – all while the Union struggled to defeat the Confederacy on the battlefield. The event terrified northerners, many of whom were convinced that it was the result of a Confederate plot, and it prompted the Lincoln administration to rush thousands of troops from the battlefield at Gettysburg to NYC. To this day, the Draft Riots remain the greatest civil uprising in American history.      
    At the outset of the Civil War in 1861, no one in the North or South could have imagined that there would ever be a shortage of volunteers that would necessitate a military draft.  Union and Confederate Army recruiting stations were overwhelmed by men eager to join the fight.  Few men on either side expected the war to last more than a few weeks.
    But subsequent events made clear just how unrealistic these hopes were.  Beset by a series of incompetent generals and a host of other problems, the Union's Army of the Potomac in the east performed poorly in the field.  By mid-1862 it was clear that the war would be long and very, very bloody. Later that year, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which effectively announced the abolition of slavery.  Lincoln had deemed emancipation necessary to win the war, but it also produced intense opposition among certain groups of northerners.  War weariness, not to mention anti-war sentiment rose in the North and soon Union Army recruiting stations were empty.  If Lincoln was to make good on his promise to preserve the Union at all costs, a second drastic measure was needed. 
    In March of 1863 Congress passed the Conscription Act (the first in U.S. history) which declared all male citizens (and immigrants who had applied for citizenship) aged 20-45 eligible to be drafted into the Union Army.  If drafted, a man had several options short of serving in the Union Army.  He could pay a “commutation fee” of $300 to the government; or he could hire a substitute to serve in his place; or he could disappear – something that more than twenty percent of draftees did.
    The draft, like emancipation, proved intensely controversial. Some protesters denounced the draft as an affront to democratic liberty.  Others focused on what they termed its "aristocratic" provisions that allowed the wealthy to buy their way out of service (the $300 commutation fee exceeded the annual income of many poor laborers). More and more, they argued, it was becoming “a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”
    The draft also incited anger among those northerners, principally Democrats, who initially had been willing to support a war to preserve the Union, but who now balked at fighting a war for emancipation.  Many politicians in the years before the war had used the issue of emancipation and the specter of cheap African American labor flooding northern cities to rally urban workers -- especially the Irish -- to the Democratic Party.  The message to the Irish was clear: if you think it's tough to earn a living now, just wait until you have to compete with hundreds of thousands of black workers willing to work for less money.  It was an opportunistic message of fear that ignored the fact tha

    • 15 min
    Brutality & Lawlessness: America's First Great Police Scandal

    Brutality & Lawlessness: America's First Great Police Scandal

    This week at In The Past Lane, the American History podcast, we take a look at the first great police scandal in US history. It occurred in the mid-1890s in New York City when an investigation into the NYPD exposed widespread corruption and brutality throughout the force, from its highest-ranking officers to the lowly beat cop. To walk us through this scandal, I speak with historian Daniel Czitrom about his book, New York Exposed: The Gilded Age Police Scandal That Launched the Progressive Era (Oxford U Press, 2016). It’s a story that makes clear that policing in the US has always been controversial.

    Further reading about the history of scandals in American History
    Daniel Czitrom, New York Exposed: The Gilded Age Police Scandal That Launched the Progressive Era (Oxford U Press, 2016)
    Andy Hughes, A History of Political Scandals: Sex, Sleaze and Spin (2014)
    George C. Kohn, The New Encyclopedia of American Scandal(2001)
    Laton McCartney, The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the Country (Random House, 2009)
    Mitchell Zuckoff, Ponzi’s Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend (Random House, 2006)
    Music for This Episode:
    Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (courtesy, JayGMusic.com)
    Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)
    Lee Rosevere, “Going Home” (Free Music Archive)
    Andy Cohen, “Trophy Endorphins” (Free Music Archive)
    The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)
    The Bell, “On The Street” (Free Music Archive)
    Jon Luc Hefferman, “Winter Trek” (Free Music Archive)
    The Womb, “I Hope That It Hurts” (Free Music Archive)
    Production Credits
    Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer
    Graphic Designer: Maggie Cellucci
    Website by: ERI Design
    Legal services: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too
    Social Media management: The Pony Express
    Risk Assessment: Little Big Horn Associates
    Growth strategies: 54 40 or Fight
    © In The Past Lane, 2020
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    • 37 min
    196 The Molly Maguires

    196 The Molly Maguires

    This week at In The Past Lane, the American History podcast, we take a look at a legendary labor uprising by a mysterious group known as the Molly Maguires. They were Irish and Irish American coal miners in Pennsylvania in the 1870s who used vigilante violence to fight back against the powerful and exploitative mine owners. But in the end, the mine owners used their dominance over the political and legal establishment to see to it that 20 men, most of whom were likely innocent, were executed by hanging.  

    Feature Story: The Molly Maguires Hanged 
    On Thursday June 21, 1877 – 143 years ago this week - ten men went to the gallows in Pennsylvania.  They were known as Molly Maguires – members of an ultra-secret society that used violence and intimidation in their bitter struggles with powerful mine owners. Arrested for their alleged role in several murders, they were convicted and sentenced to death on the basis of very thin evidence and questionable testimony.  “Black Thursday” would long be remembered by residents of the Pennsylvania coal fields as an extraordinary example of anti-labor and anti-Irish prejudice. 
    The story of the Molly Maguires was one very much rooted in two specific places: rural Ireland and the anthracite region of PA. The latter was the main supplier of the nation’s coal, making it a vital component in American’s unfolding industrial revolution. By the 1870s, more than 50,000 miners – more than half of them Irish or Irish American – toiled in the region’s mines. It was hard, brutal work. They worked long hours for low pay in extremely dangerous conditions. Every year cave-ins, floods, and poison gas claimed the lives of hundreds of miners.  In one fire alone in 1869, 110 miners were killed. It was in the struggle of these workers to improve their pay, hours, and conditions that the Molly Maguire saga began. 
    Irish immigrants and Irish Americans played key roles in virtually every aspect of the conflict, from the lowliest miner to the most powerful capitalist.  Foremost was Franklin B. Gowen, the wealthy Irish American president of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. Tough and ambitious, he ruthlessly drove his competitors out of business in an effort to dominate the state’s two principle industries, coal and railroads.  The only thing he hated more than rival businessmen was organized labor, especially the main miners union, the Workingmen’s Benevolent Association (WBA). Led by an Irish-born man named John Siney, the WBA had won several strikes in the late 1860s and early 1870s that resulted in wage gains and union recognition. Even though he shared an Irish heritage with most of his miners, Franklin Gowan had little sympathy for them. In industrializing America, class interests trumped everything, including ethnicity and culture, and Gowan treated his workers like they were the enemy. 
    Gowan waited for the right moment to attack, and that came in 1873 when the nation plunged into a severe economic depression that lasted until 1877.  The hard times hurt his bottom line, but Gowen saw a silver lining: hard times also provided an opportunity to kill the miners’ union. In January 1875, Gowan announced a steep cut in wages, a move quickly followed by the region’s others coal operators. The wage cuts triggered a massive miners’ strike throughout the region that paralyzed coal production. But Gowen and other operators had prepared for the strike by stockpiling huge coal reserves that allowed them to continue to sell coal and wait out the desperate and half-starved striking miners. The “Long Strike,” as it came to be known, was doomed. It ended after five months in June with a total defeat for the workers and the destruction of the Workingmen’s Benevolent Association (WBA). 
    And here’s where rural Ireland figured into the story. Embittered by their loss, a group of Irish miners turned to an old custom – extra-legal justice, or vigilantism.  Irish tenan

    • 11 min
    Where Have You Gone, Robert F. Kennedy?

    Where Have You Gone, Robert F. Kennedy?

    This week at In The Past Lane, the podcast about American history and why it matters, we take a close look at Robert F. Kennedy. Here’s the lineup:
    1) First up, it’s a short feature on the basics of the life of RFK.
    2) Next, I speak with author Larry Tye about his biography, Bobby Kennedy: The Making of A Liberal Icon (2016, Random House). Tye is the author of many best-selling biographies and he’s at his best in this new look at RFK. One of the myths he’s eager to dispel is the notion that there were two, polar opposite Bobby Kennedys – the bad boy in the 1950s who worked for Sen. Joseph McCarthy and later waged war on organized labor and the saintly good guy in the mid-1960s who fought for social justice.
    3. And we bring you two remarkable audio clips from the 1960s. First, an excerpt from RFK’s 1968 speech, “The Mindless Menace of Violence” and second, Ted Kennedy’s eulogy for RFK two months later.
    About Larry Tye
    His website  http://larrytye.com/
    Further Reading and Links
    Thurston Clarke, The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America
    Robert F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy in His Own Words: The Unpublished Recollections of the Kennedy Years
    Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Robert Kennedy and His Times
    Evan Thomas, Robert Kennedy: His Life
    Larry Tye, Bobby Kennedy: The Making of A Liberal Icon (2016, Random House).
    RFK’s 1968 speech, “The Mindless Menace of Violence”
    Ted Kennedy’s eulogy for RFK, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, June 8, 1968
    Music
    Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (courtesy, JayGMusic.com)
    Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)
    The Womb, “I Hope It Hurts” (Free Music Archive)
    Jon Luc Hefferman, “Epoch” (Free Music Archive)
    Hyson, "Signals" (Free Music Archive)
    The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)

    • 45 min
    The Tulsa Race Massacre 0f 1921 + This Week in US History

    The Tulsa Race Massacre 0f 1921 + This Week in US History

    This week at In The Past Lane, the American History podcast, we take a look at one of the most deadly incidents of anti-black violence in US history: The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. White mobs rampaged through Tulsa, Oklahoma’s African American neighborhood and burned it to the ground, killing between 100 and 300 black residents in the process. The incident was quickly covered up and driven from public memory. But in the 1990s activists and scholars began to unearth the shocking truth.

    Feature Story: The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921
    On May 31, 1921 – 99 years ago this week – mobs of heavily armed white residents of Tulsa, Oklahoma rampaged through the city’s African-American district named Greenwood. They stole property, set fire to buildings, and indiscriminately killed black men, women, and children. When it was over, this pogram known as the Tulsa Race Massacre left between 100 and 300 people dead and 35 blocks in smoldering ruins. It was one of the single most deadly incidents of racist violence in American history. And yet, it was quickly driven from public memory.

    The years between the end of World War I in 1918 and the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921 were marked by many incidents of extreme anti-black violence. This surge in violence was due to many factors. The end of World War I brought a massive strike wave as millions of workers walked off the job. Fear of socialism, communism, and anarchism surged as the nation plunged into one of its periodic Red Scares. Also contributing to the social tension was the fact that millions of African-Americans had in the previous decade moved to northern cities, part of what historians referred to as the Great Migration. Chicago’s black population, for example, jumped from 44,000 in 1910 to 110,000 in 1920. And on top of this, the Ku Klux Klan had re-emerged in 1915 as a vibrant national organization that by the mid-1920s would have 5 million members. Each of these trends contributed to surging anti-black racism that led to many incidents of violence against African-American individuals and neighborhoods.

    In 1919 alone, there were 25 major anti-black riots in the US.  One of the worst took place in Chicago in July 1919 that left 38 dead.  There were also 76 African Americans lynched in the South in 1919, including ten black soldiers who had returned from active duty in World War I.

    Up until May of 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma had been relatively peaceful. But it was an oil-rich city of 72,000 that was strictly segregated. In fact, when Oklahoma was admitted to the union in 1907, the very first laws passed by the state legislature imposed segregation and disenfranchisement upon its black population. Despite these laws and a climate of racial hostility, Tulsa’s African-American population was one of the most prosperous In the United States. In fact, the Greenwood section of Tulsa where most African-Americans lived, was nicknamed the Negro Wall Street. It was filled with thriving black-owned businesses ranging from barbershops and retails stores to law firms and doctor’s offices. Many white citizens of Tulsa resented this black economic success.

    And it was this resentment that escalated the situation on May 31, 1921. Like so many incidents of anti-black racial violence in US history, this one began with an incident involving a black male and a white female. On May 30, a 17-year-old girl named Sarah Page, who operated an elevator in downtown Tulsa, accused 19-year-old Dick Rowland of assaulting her. Rowland was taken into custody and brought to the local courthouse. The next day, partly inspired by an inflammatory article about the incident in the local newspaper, a large crowd of angry white men gathered outside the courthouse. It was a scene that was a typical prelude to a lynching. Not surprisingly, rumors that Rowland was about to be lynched raced through the black community, prompting a large group of armed black men to arrive at the courthouse. A standoff ensued,

    • 14 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
217 Ratings

217 Ratings

Abram80 ,

Seamless flow between now and then

Has shed much insight on current affairs,
And have felt empowered to live out my convictions and seek a more just and compassionate world. Much thanks!

mountain man Drew ,

One sided

These guys must not have read Tench Coxe’s work.

allisonp25 ,

Excellent!!!

Fell into this podcast and I’m so grateful for it! I appreciate the straightforward manner, streamlined facts and learning things I wasn’t taught in a classroom or in Trivial Pursuit!

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