How was this even a question?

Podcast: Ancestry

By: Constitutional



In 1879 a court case involving Chief Standing Bull of the Ponca tribe came before a Federal court that demanded an answer to the question:  Are Native Americans considered people by the U.S. Constitution.

In 1878, despite having two separate treaties with the U.S. Senate, the Ponca tribe were forcibly removed off their land by the U.S. Government. As a result of the sickness and starvation conditions, Chief Standing Bull’s only son died that winter. Before he died, his father promised him he would bury him in their traditional ceremonial burial grounds.

Chief Standing Bull and about 30 other members of the Ponca Tribe went on a three month journey to bury his son. They were detained by the U.S. Army 2 days short of their goal.

General George Crook took the Native Americans under guard but doubted the morality of his orders and informed several news stations and lawyers of the situation.

Chief Standing Bull filed for a writ of habeas corpus.

This was the first civil trial for a Native American in U.S. History.

During the trial, Chief Standing Bull was quotes as saying, “That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel pain. The blood is of the same color as yours. God made me, and I am a man.”

Judge Elmer S. Dundy ruled that “an Indian is a person” within the meaning of habeas corpus, recognizing that an Indian is a “person” under the law and entitled to its rights and protection. He concluded “The right of expatriation is a natural, inherent and inalienable right and extends to the Indian as well as to the more fortunate white race.”

End of the Age of Jackson

Podcast: The Age of Jackson – Manifest Destiny

By: American History Tellers



After the Mexican War of Independence in 1821, the United States considered the territories of Texas and California up for grabs even though they were considered by the Mexican government as part of Mexico.

American settlers began settling both territories.

The Wilmot Proviso was an attempt to ban slavery in the newly acquired lands from the war with Mexico, although it’s intent wasn’t for moral reasons, but to ensure that poor whites wouldn’t compete with slavery for jobs and opportunities.

Part of the Compromise of 1850 was the Fugitive Slave Act which required Northerners to report and assist with the tracking down of escaped slaves, which further solidified anti slavery sentiment.

During the European revolutions of 1848 there were groups that supported the existing governments rather than side with the liberal revolutions.

The presidential election of 1848 is considered the first modern election where all states electors voted on the same day. It also saw three main political parties, including the Free Soil party which was founded on the eradication of slavery but also split the Democratic party vote.


There seem to be quite a bit of parallels between the arguments made for the wars and subsequent annexation of Texas/California by the United States and the arguments made for the wars and annexation of Crimea/Ukraine by the Russian Federation in 2014. Both seem to be making the statement of “Citizens of our country who live in the territory claimed by a different country want to be a part of our country, and we’re just honoring their wishes and protecting them from threats from the other country”

The First President to Die in Office

Podcast: The Age of Jackson | The Little Magician

By: American History Tellers



The economic growth of the 1830’s wasn’t equally distributed and led many to think they were being left behind – the gap between rich and poor was increasing.

The combination of new federal lands opened up by the forced relocation of the Indian tribes, the veto of the Second National Bank (which gave less regulated State Banks the ability to significantly relax their lending standards) caused a huge increase in loans for land speculation.

The Specie Circular was an executive order from Jackson that mandated federal lands could only be purchased by gold and silver. The price of both jumped and shortages developed.

The economy went into a depression that lasted for four years.

Martin Van Buren was elected essentially as Jackson’s third term and followed his policies closely. Despite his initial popularity, the economic problems soon led to his nickname being Martin Van Ruin

Because of this, Van Buren was easily defeated by William Henry Harrison in the election of 1840

Harrison only lived for 31 days after being elected and was succeeded by his vice president, John Tyler.

Tyler made the annexation of Texas a primary issue, and had to use some significant executive power overreach to sign a treaty with the independent state. The plan to admit Texas into the union as a slave state was highly conscientious, and lead to Tyler being in a situation where he was unable to run again, instead agreeing to drop out and support James K Polk in the election of 1840 if the Democrats supported the Texas annexation.


Not a bright spot in American history

Podcast: The Age of Jackson : Great White Father

By: American History Tellers



Jackson supported the Indian Removal Act and pitched it as philanthropic for the Indians. They were being moved out of danger and their new lands would be guaranteed and looked after by the federal government.

The Cherokee had a full constitution and treaties with the federal government that were basically ignored by the state of Georgia. Initially there was an argument that the federal government didn’t have the rights under the Constitution to interfere with Georgia law.

Eventually, in Worcester v. Georgia the Supreme Court ruled that Georgia could not overrule a sovereign nation, presumably protecting the rights of the Cherokee nation. However, Jackson refused to enforce the ruling and Georgia quickly moved to take over the land.

Despite the Cherokee refusing to leave their land, a group of 100 of them who claimed to speak for the entire Cherokee nation negotiated terms to sell the land and were quickly granted a new treaty by the federal government, which then took this opportunity to enforce the terms on the entire nation.

A major concern of southerners was that if they accepted the argument that Indians had rights, then their slaves did too.

The tribes were a refuge for escaped slaves which also made them extremely unpopular with Southerners.

At the end of his second term, the issue of what to do with Texas became a difficult problem. Admitting Texas would upset the balance of slave states and free states and Texas was a place where neither free blacks or free indians were allowed.


Surely the Indian Removal act must be seen as an extremely black mark on American History. America betrayed its treaties with these nations and killed or force relocated tens of thousands of people.

Robert Hayne – not a great guy

Podcast: The Age of Jackson : King Mob

By: American History Tellers



Jackson’s choice for Secretary of War, John Henry Eaton was surrounded by controversy for his involvement with a married woman in the “Petticoat Affair” and Jackson spent quite a lot of political capital dealing with it.

The Tariff of 1824 was an incredibly controversial political issue. It was passed to protect industry in the north but wound up increasing the prices of goods in the south and damaged their economy. Many in South Carolina accused it of being a direct attack on slavery – which it might have been.

It spawned the Nullification crisis where South Carolina had a state convention to declare this law null and void within their state borders. It was expected that Jackson would side with the south on this, but it was more important for him to preserve the concept of a federal government.

Jackson’s own vice president, John Calhoun penned an anonymous editorial supporting nullification. It was a contentious issue between them and caused Jackson to declare his running mate in the presidential election of 1928 would be Martin Van Buren.

Henry Clay proposed a compromise where the tariffs would be slowly walked back but that Jackson would be given the authority to use the military on states that refused to obey the laws of the federal government.

The Webster-Hayne speeches were some of the most popular and contentious on the Senate floor. Worth reading.

Jackson hated the Second Bank of the United States and vetoed the renewal of its charter.  His reasoning for it was that it was an overreach of federal power, despite it already having been decided as constitutional by the Supreme Court.

His anti bank stance was extremely populist and was one of the keys to his re-election in 1832.


Looking at history from a modern perspective, Robert Hayne was a real piece of shit. He said this:

If slavery, as it now exists in this country, be an evil, we of the present day found it ready made to our hands. Finding our lot cast among a people, whom God had manifestly committed to our care, we did not sit down to speculate on abstract questions of theoretical liberty. We met it as a practical question of obligation and duty. We resolved to make the best of the situation in which Providence had placed us, and to fulfil the high trust which had developed upon us as the owners of slaves, in the only way in which such a trust could be fulfilled, without spreading misery and ruin throughout the land. We found that we had to deal with a people whose physical, moral, and intellectual habits and character, totally disqualified them from the enjoyment of the blessings of freedom. We could not send them back to the shores from whence their fathers had been taken; their numbers forbade the thought, even if we did not know that their condition here is infinitely preferable to what it possibly could be among the barren sands and savage tribes of Africa; and it was wholly irreconcileable with all our notions of humanity to tear asunder the tender ties which they had formed among us, to gratify the feelings of a false philanthropy.


Our first good presidential election controversy

Podcast: The Age of Jackson : Good Feelings

By: American History Tellers



The 1824 election saw four major candidates running and none of them won a majority of the electoral vote.  Despite Jackson winning the largest number of both electoral and popular votes, the House of Representatives voted to elect John Quincy Adams. In a bit of a scandal, Henry Clay threw his support behind Adams and then was made Adams’ Secretary of State.

This was the first time someone won the popular vote without winning the presidency.

The Missouri controversy centered around whether Missouri should be admitted to the Union as a Slave or Free state. The compromise involved bringing in Maine as a free state to preserve the balance, and ensure that a latitudinal line was drawn so that all new states north of that line would be brought in as free states.

America deserves a drink.

Podcast: Prohibition – We Want Beer

From: American History Tellers


Notes: The repeal of Prohibition was the first time the State Convention was used to pass an amendment. Before this point it was always state legislatures but there was doubt that there was enough support among state legislatures to pass the repeal.

Utah was the state that achieved the required number. Ohio and Pennsylvania were scheduled to vote on the same day and Utah deliberately delayed until both of them had confirmed passage so they would be the deciding state.

A lot of modern laws in various states and counties are leftover from the local efforts to keep Prohibition in place even after it was repealed. That’s why some states still have laws that prevent alcohol sales on Sundays, or have dry counties or only allow liquor stores to sell alcohol. Some states were still dry until the 60’s.

FDR ran with an Anti-Prohibition platform.

Somewhat unrelated but interesting – as a result of the Great Depression, many WWI vets couldn’t find work and demanded their pensions early. They gathered in Washington and Hoover actually brought in the military on them and as a result of the conflict some vets were killed and several dozen were wounded.

Well maybe just one drink

Podcast: Poisoning the Well

From: American History Tellers


Summary: There was a significant pushback against prohibition by the late 1920s. The mafia gained a lot of power and influence through illegal importing and brewing and the KKK was reborn through the anti-immigrant sphere of the prohibition movement. Bootleg liquor was dangerous and became more so as government regulations on industrial alcohol became more strict.

The prohibition platform really hurt Hoover and the Republican agenda and by the late 1920’s as many Americans were drinking alcohol as before prohibition.

This is part 5 of the series but the first one I listened to since starting this blog.

My thoughts: The coalition that pushed for prohibition was a super interesting mix of Puritanical Morality groups (for obvious reasons), Women’s Right groups (Drunk husbands were extremely dangerous to their wives and children), and Anti Immigrant groups (Saloons were populated by immigrants in many large cities).

This is also one of the best examples of some well intentioned people making a law that ended up seemingly making everything worse.