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09 February 2014


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Ben Miller

Wow, yet another excellent piece of work. After using the break to at last finish off the History of Rome, I am ready to delve into the intricacies of the American Revolution. I found your interpretation of Indian affairs fascinating, particularly in their allegiance during the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars. Next Sunday can't come fast enough.

Daniel Thompson

First of all I want to say that I'm a huge fan of all your work, Mike! I have listened to every Roman history episode you ever produced and I have touted it constantly to everyone I know. As a huge history lover myself it has been a pleasure and an inspiration to listen to much of what you've done over the years.
Buuuuut… (you could just sense there was a "but" coming, couldn't you?) I knew too that I would be unable to help myself from throwing in a few nitpicky comments once I learned that you were doing a new round of episodes on the American Revolution. To be fair, I know how incredibly hard it is to boil the complexities of history down to something simple enough to be at least somewhat understood without losing too much in the summary… So while part of me doesn't want to be "that guy" and thinks that perhaps I should just let you give your own take without having to offer my own… well, I just can't resist.
And I know too that I still have a lot to learn myself, so I can't boast the *most* unassailable credentials, but as a tour guide down here in Savannah, Georgia I'm very proud of my hometown, home state, and home, uh, "colony", I guess. In any case though, I'd just love to throw in my own two cents on your brief overview of Georgia.
First, not a terribly important point, but you mention while talking about South Carolina that rice was uniquely a product of that colony. It was also Georgia's first staple crop as well though. I get the sense that mostly you were saying that this was true versus all the other colonies that you'd already mentioned before Georgia (which would be true of course), and I know Georgia complicates this long timeline you're trying to cover by coming into the colonial picture so late. Aaand since you end the episode with a prelude to the French and Indian War circa 1754 (rather than the full on Revolution by which time things would change) the rice cultivation of Georgia *would* also be in its relative infancy.
Buuuut, I feel like that goes to reinforce other issues you touch on where I guess I'm a bit more touchy. That is, had I known nothing about Georgia history before listening to your episode I would get the sense that Georgia was a colony created by a bunch of idealistic, but foolishly naive English lords who drove everyone out of their new colony because life in their idea of a utopia was just no fun. Plus, they were too dumb to know what kind of plants to grow…
And, well, okay that's *kind* of true. But there's an important point there that it just bugs me for so often getting left out. And that's that the *major* thing that made life rigid in Georgia (at least compared to South Carolina) from 1735 to 1750 was that you couldn't own slaves. (Yes, hard liquor was banned too, so I guess that was a bummer…) But I mean, while giving a nod to the hypocrisy of most of our founding fathers, especially most of those Southerners, you couldn't give credit to the early English utopians of Georgia for trying to put their money where their mouth was? That's by far the main reason the governance of Oglethorpe and the other Trustees failed (though their charter had always stated they only had 21 years before Georgia would become a royal colony anyway). The ideals they were promoting just couldn't compete when plantation owners next door in South Carolina were getting so stinking rich. So I know in the end it didn't last, but the first place slavery was outlawed in America was in Georgia - and it was before the Revolution… It's just something I wish more people knew.
Finally, I don't think you ever really flat out say it in a way where there's not some wiggle room, but you give the impression that Georgia was a debtor's colony, with people sent straight from jail to Georgia, or perhaps to Georgia as alternative punishment. And I'm aware that this was widely believed for a long time, but to the best of my knowledge, recent scholarship has pretty thoroughly debunked this. No one aboard the first ship to arrive in 1733 had ever spent time in a debtor's jail and though Oglethorpe had really hoped the colony would maybe serve this purpose later on it just never really did. You might look more into that because I know that there are still many sites devoted to general history (Wikipedia, etc) that cite this fact, but several things I've seen more specifically devoted to this question all conclude that Georgia was originally a colony for those of modest means, but not of ex-cons.
One example source:
Anyway, my hometown Savannah, Georgia is in my opinion the most fantastic city in America. We've certainly had our faults over the years and there's plenty to poke fun at too, so I don't want to give the impression that I think we're above a good ribbing, but I do feel quite proud of the complexity of our origins as well. We are *undeniably* Southern, along with all the baggage that brings, but our cultural and religious diversity was pretty remarkable early on. I don't imagine that you'll have cause to touch on Georgia *too* much during this series but when you do I'll be listening intently to hear your thoughts, because you really do a great job… And I'll *try* not to pester you too much with my extra two cents… though no promises. :)
Thanks again for the incredible program!

Michael Tsuk

You might want to check the spelling of "Erie" on the map. :-)

Christopher Brielman

I, too, want to make some minor quibbles (but I do heartily enjoy the podcast, and its predecessor):
- The Pilgrims were not Puritan, though they were certainly similar.
- Several of the Founding Fathers were opposed to slavery quite ardently. This ran the gamut from big names like John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, to those FFs that aren't household names (Benjamin Rush, for example). And, while you point out that several of the Founding Fathers were hypocritical about slavery and human rights, such as Jefferson, I hope you will address that many of them were acutely aware of their own inconsistency.

Josh Deeden

Aaaaand you're back. Finally. It's been a very long 4 weeks for me. Very much looking forward to the Mike Duncan treatment of the American Revolution! It will undoubtedly be glorious.

Lukas Smith

Yep. Let's get this one out of the way. I think it's quite brave to take on this so early in the podcast, since everyone and their brother considers themselves an expert on this topic.


Lukas... Isn't he doing them chronologically?


As ever, great to have you back, Mike!


Glad to see you back and looking forward to hearing an unbiased take on the American revolution. Thanks!


Christopher Brielman:

Your assertion is that the Pilgrims were not Puritan. Please provide referance for this view. I have not heard that.


Just in time for AP US History review! Thanks a ton, big fan!


Good stuff Mike, looking forward to Bunker Hill et al.

I thought you might digress on the indentured servants found in the south east, and their forebears in the plantations of Ulster during and after the English civil war.


Great work you are doing Mike! I really apreciate it!

Greg Kline

Really should take some time to discover more about Maryland's colonial history. Other than being founded by Catholics, though Protestants were on the Ark and Dove also, Maryland has many unique qualities. It was a palitinate and had a unique political relationship with England that made Maryland's arguments during the Revolution unique. It also, unlike Rhode Island, had the first Freedom of Religion statute passed by its legislature in the 1630's. It serves as one of the models for the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. A couple of great resources that discuss these aspects of Maryland's colonial history Maryland : A Middle Temperament; Newman's The Flowering of the Maryland Palitinate and The Ark and the Dove. And yes Maryland was named after Queen Henrietta Maria (not most likely) and yes Maryland is culturally, economically and politically a Southern colony not some weird border state. Maryland had more in common with its southern neighbors than its northern ones not just into the colonial period but before, during and after the Civil War.


I take issue with you saying that Britian had "complete control" of North America after the Treaty of Paris ending the French and Indian War. I believe that France still controlled Lousiana after the treaty.

Your explanation of the hypocrisy of the Americans in regards to their treatment of Native Americans and Africans felt right. It conveyed the truth of the situation and the feelings of disappointment that many people now feel.

Otherwise, I love this series. I really enjoyed your discussion of the English Civil War and I look forward to your perspective of the American Revolution.


Noticed the snide comment about monarchy in this one. As if Republics have proven any better, or less corrupt, etc? Monarchy, in one form or another, has seemed to work pretty well in much of the world.

Gary Bridgman

I've been bragging on you on my Twitter feed (@root2702), but my followers are like "Shut up. I know. I'm trying to listen to Mike now!"

Robin Millar

You spoke about the 13 (12 + Delaware) colonies. But at the start of the American War of Independence, Britain also had the colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, East Florida and West Florida on the mainland. Plus the Bahamas near Florida and Bermuda in the Atlantic. I've often wondered why those colonies rejected the opportunity to join the Revolution and be independent. Will you cover that? Does these colonies' adherence to the status quo reveal divisions between the colonists themselves?

Robin Millar

PS There was another large disenfranchised group whose enfranchisement would have been revolutionary, and at no economic cost - women!

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