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American as Pumpkin Pie

A History of Thanksgiving

When we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, we think we know what we’re commemorating. But if an actual Pilgrim were to attend your Thanksgiving, chances are he’d be stunned by what he saw there. In this episode, historian James McWilliams discusses why the Puritans would have turned up their noses at our “traditional” Thanksgiving foods. Religion scholar Anne Blue Wills reveals the Victorian  origins of our modern holiday, and one woma...

TYRANNOPHOBIA

The uses & abuses of executive power

With Republicans expected to gain seats in the House and Senate, it looks like President Obama will cap off his time in office with more gridlock. But if Congress can’t act, he says, he’ll use executive authority to sidestep the legislative process on key issues, like immigration reform and the use of force against Islamist extremists. Obama’s detractors have accused him of being an “imperial” president. It’s a theme that runs through the course...

An Unhappy Franksgiving

By Andrew Parsons Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt host Thanksgiving dinner at Warm Springs, GA, November 23, 1939. Courtesy of the Franklin Roosevelt Library. These days everyone seems to be concerned with the growing power of the executive branch. But there are limits to the public’s tolerance for a president’s authority…and apparently, it’s the holidays, as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt discovered seventy-five...

City Upon a Hill

A History of American Exceptionalism [rebroadcast]

In his recent address to the nation urging a military strike in Syria, President Obama appealed to “American exceptionalism” to make the case. American ideals were on the line in Syria, he argued, and the United States had a special responsibility to act. But that claim didn’t sit well with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, as he made clear in a New York Times op-ed. All countries had distinctive qualities, Putin said, and encourag...

Imagined Nations

Depictions of American Indians

Is redskin a racial slur? The U.S. Patent Office says so. So do many Native Americans who have protested the use of the term by that team. Activists say the team’s name and its logo — the image of a generic Indian man in profile, with braids and long feathers — celebrate negative stereotypes about America’s indigenous people. On this show, we’re taking a long look at how Native peoples have been represented — and misrepresented — in U.S. history...

Three Squares

Mealtime in America

...n… But eating isn’t simply about achieving the perfect nutritional balance. It also has profound social implications, especially when we sit down with others to share a meal. And so in this episode, the History Guys recover from their Thanksgiving feasts with a look back at the history of mealtime in America. From Victorian table manners to the school lunch program, how have our ideas about what, when, and how we eat our meals evolved?...

Three Squares

Mealtime in America [rebroadcast]

...kinds of instructions. But eating isn’t simply about the perfect nutritional balance. It has profound social implications too, especially when we sit down with others to share a meal. And so in this episode, the Guys recover from their Thanksgiving feasts by looking back over the history of mealtime in America. From Victorian table manners to the school lunch program, how have our ideas about what, when, and how we eat our meals evolved?...

Health Nuts

A History of Nutritional Advice [rebroadcast]

Until recently, the link between a high fat diet and heart disease was one of the touchstones of modern medicine. But new research has thrown that connection into question, just as numerous studies over the years have brought new advice about health and diet to the fore. So in this episode, the Guys take the long view on nutritional advice and explore some of the more surprising ways that past generations have defined “health food.”...

No such thing as a free lunch

  “Over-indulgence–a spoiled Thanksgiving.” Alice Barber Stephens, 1896. Eleven years before the start of the Civil War, as the abolition movement was reaching new heights, a man named William Alcott gathered his supporters together for a discussion about slavery–but not the kind that you’re probably thinking about. “There is no slavery in this world like the slavery of a man to his appetite. Let man but abstain...

Naughty & Nice

A History of the Holiday Season [rebroadcast]

Christmas may be the big kahuna of American holy days, but it wasn’t always so. It used to be a time of drunken rowdiness, when the poor would demand food and money from the rich. The Puritans banned Christmas altogether. It wasn’t until the 1820s that the holiday was re-invented as the peaceful, family-oriented, consumeristic ritual we celebrate today. In this episode, the History Guys examine the history of the “holiday season” in America. Has...