BackStory

The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

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His “Accidency”

By Andrew Parsons One night in April 1841, John Tyler rose from bed to find out the President of the United States was dead. The news was a big deal because Tyler had been sworn in as William Henry Harrison’s Vice President barely a month before. Harrison, who famously gave the longest inauguration speech in U.S. […]

A Bronx Peace

Benjy Melendez says that as a teenager in the South Bronx, the lights on the street at night came not from streetlights, but fires set by arsonists. “You seen fire all over the place,” says Melendez. They could see the stars at night, too, since broken streetlights were seldom repaired, and most buildings were abandoned. […]

Fake Money, Real Problems

Today’s consumers can be pretty confident that the cash in their pockets or the numbers shown in their bank accounts represent real money, legal tender that businesses anywhere will accept. Not so in the America of the 1800’s. Among the many things that have changed between this day and that was the money that people […]

The photograph that changed Earth

When you think of any historical event over the last century and a half, chances are it calls to mind an image. Most likely, that image is a photograph. From the daguerreotypes of Civil War battlefields, to images of the Berlin Wall coming down, we live in an age shaped by photography.  But in the […]

Segregating Schizophrenia

  “They diagnosed Malcolm X with having schizophrenia, particularly because he was paranoid against the government….And even though it’s incredibly tragic to read this file, you can’t but think like, of course he was paranoid against the government, because the government was profiling him and tapping his phone.”   And yet, the people who diagnosed […]

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