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The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

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The Chemical Weapons Conundrum

In December 2012, President Obama addressed reports that Syrian president Bashir Assad was on the verge of using chemical weapons against rebels in his country. “And today, I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command, the world is watching. The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally […]

Elvis, Nixon, & the War on Drugs

It’s 36 years ago today since Elvis Presley died, following a battle with prescription drugs. But he famously offered to help President Richard Nixon fight the growing “drug culture” in America that seemed to have taken off in the 1960s.  The iconic picture of the two meeting in the Oval Office, on December 21, 1970, is the most […]

Ed Ayers receives National Humanities Medal

BackStory and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities are extremely proud of our 19th Century American History Guy – otherwise known as Edward L. Ayers, President of the University of Richmond and historian extraordinaire, who was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Obama last week. Ed was recognized at a White House ceremony on July 10th, along […]

Horses on treadmills! (c. 1881)

A team-horse treadmill in the Gray’s Horse Powers catalogue, c. 1881. (Smithsonian institution). From the fabulous article at Lapham’s Quarterly. “There were horse-powered ferryboats; horse-powered hay balers and cotton-gins; even horse-powered chocolate factories. For its first few years, Manhattan’s municipal water system was powered by horses turning a pump wheel. The work did not benefit […]

How the Chess Set Got Its Look and Feel

from Design Decoded: Victorian London’s Neoclassical architecture had been influenced by a renewed interest in the ruins of ancient Greece and Rome, which captured the popular imagination after the rediscovery of Pompeii in the 18th century. The work of architects like Christopher Wren, William Chambers, John Soane, and many others inspired the column-like, tripartite division […]