A new episode of the Madison presidency series is now available!

Season 1

August 12, 2018

1.36 – Washington Q&A

I asked for your questions, and you sent in some great ones! As a part of the transition into a new presidency, we send George Washington off by addressing some lingering issues about his life and tenure including whether he thought of the Federalists as a political party, whether Hamilton would have become president if not for his affair with Maria Reynolds, did Washington really want to be called “His Excellency,” and what was up with the president tallying how many women he saw during his Southern tour. The answers to these questions and more can be found in this special episode of Presidencies!

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June 24, 2018

1.35 – Washington Post-Presidency

Year(s) Discussed: 1796-1799 Washington envisioned a relaxing retirement at Mount Vernon with his family after leaving the presidency in March 1797, but it was not to be. Between personal issues and a return to public service, the last couple of years of Washington’s life prior to his sudden demise would be filled with business and breaches of trust and friendship.

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June 10, 2018

1.34 – The Final(ish) Curtain Call

Year(s) Discussed: 1794-1797 After President Washington releases his Farewell Address, informing the nation that he would not seek another term, the 1796 election is carried out though, both domestically and abroad, there is much confusion about how exactly the United States would decide upon its next president. Meanwhile, the French plot to interfere with the election, the public attacks on Washington continue, and a military leader meets his untimely end.

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May 27, 2018

1.33 – Race to the Finish Line

Year(s) Discussed: 1790-1796 Relations between the US and France deteriorate after the Jay Treaty goes into effect while Washington gets involved in the campaign to secure Lafayette’s release from his imprisonment in the Habsburg Monarchy, the administration takes care of business as the end of Washington’s second term draws closer, and the parties position themselves to launch into the 1796 presidential campaign as soon as Washington finally makes official his plans to retire (aka the worst kept secret in the 18th century).

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May 13, 2018

1.32 – Samsons and Solomons

Year(s) Discussed: 1795-1796 Though finally managing to resolve his personnel issues, Washington and his Cabinet find themselves faced with a host of new problems including a new round of debate over the Jay Treaty and political maneuverings by the Democratic-Republicans as the next presidential election draws ever closer.

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April 29, 2018

1.31 – Runaway

Year(s) Discussed: 1773-1848 On May 21st, 1796, Ona/Oney Judge slips out of the President’s House in Philadelphia, PA in a bid to obtain her freedom from enslavement. The story of her being born into slavery at Mount Vernon, her being brought to work in the Washingtons’ household, and the Washingtons’ attempts at bringing Ona back into captivity is a narrative that brings much insight into the institution of slavery in the United States in the mid-1790s as well as a more complete view of George Washington’s legacy.

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April 15, 2018

1.30 – Under Pressure, Near and Far

Year(s) Discussed: c. 16th century-1795 Diplomatic representatives of the Washington administration navigate new waters as they seek a peaceful resolution to conflicts with the Barbary States and Spain while the President continues his frustrating search to find candidates willing to fill his vacant Cabinet offices. Meanwhile, the Senate throws the President a curve ball by rejecting one of Washington’s appointments.

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April 01, 2018

1.29 – The Not So Dream Team

Year(s) Discussed: 1792-1796 With positions in his Cabinet to fill, Washington is finding it difficult to convince anyone to join his administration. Meanwhile, the son of his Revolutionary War comrade the Marquis de Lafayette shows up in the US and places the President in a difficult position as he’s forced to choose between personal loyalty and public duty. Around the same time, the disgraced Edmund Randolph makes his way up and down the east coast gathering evidence to clear his name.

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March 18, 2018

1.28 – A Caesar, a Cromwell, and a Washington: The Betrayals of 1795

Year(s) Discussed: 1794-1795 Despite achieving a major diplomatic victory in the Northwest Territory, the administration is rocked by controversy as Secretary of State Randolph is confronted about allegations of collusion with the French while Washington himself is accused of improper use of public finances. Scandals and controversies abound in this episode!

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March 04, 2018

1.27 – The Light of Burning Effigies

Year(s) Discussed: 1789-1799 While the construction of the nation’s new capital proceeds, the public battle against the Jay Treaty begins in earnest upon its publication by Benjamin Franklin Bache. Demonstrations and meetings go on up and down the Eastern seaboard, and even Alexander Hamilton has difficulty determining how to respond. Meanwhile, Washington has to fill John Jay’s position as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and deal with the last remaining member of his first Cabinet now looking to find a way out of his post.

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February 18, 2018

1.26 – A Monument of Folly and Venality

Year(s) Discussed: 1794-1795 The Jay Treaty finally arrives in Philadelphia, but it turns out to be more of a curse than the blessing for which Washington and his administration were hoping. As Washington and Randolph scramble to figure out what to do with the treaty, the opposition makes preparations for a full-on attack on this treaty with the British. Meanwhile, the Administration learns of US Minister James Monroe’s “fraternal embrace” of the French and goes in search of a special envoy to send to Spain. Diplomacy and political intrigue abound at home and abroad in 1795.

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February 04, 2018

1.25 – The Happy Course

Year(s) Discussed: 1772-1795 As Alexander Hamilton readies himself to depart from the administration at the beginning of 1795, I use this defining point of the Washington presidency to explore various points of domestic policy and foreign issues including the establishment of the Trans-Oconee Republic, the state of the Democratic-Republican faction, the first steps of the Thermadorian government in France, the Kościuszko Uprising in Poland, the influx of refugees from Saint-Domingue and the progress of the Haitian Revolution, and British intrigues in the Caribbean. Many issues face Washington and his new Cabinet secretaries as they enter the final two years of his second term.

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January 21, 2018

1.24 – The Mvskoke and Mathews

Year(s) Discussed: 1783-1793 The development of white settlements in what was then the Southwest United States brings about conflicts with various Native American nations including the Mvskoke (commonly referred to as the Creek). Thus, the Washington administration finds itself in the position of having to police its own citizens while at the same time negotiating peace with native peoples in the region. Meanwhile, the threat of slave uprisings moves closer to the United States and causes some slaveowners to reconsider their approach to enslaved people and the institution of slavery as a whole.

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January 07, 2018

1.23 – Effigies and Efficacies

Year(s) Discussed: 1793-1794 James Monroe arrives in France as major changes are occurring in the governance of the nation – Robespierre is out, and the Thermadorians are in. Back in the US, Washington and Hamilton ride at the head of an army west to put an end to the Whiskey Rebellion once and for all, but they will be shocked by what they find as they draw nearer to Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, as we near the end of 1794, the longest serving member of Washington’s Cabinet considers his future.

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December 24, 2017

1.22 – My, What Big Treaties You Have

Year(s) Discussed: 1793-1794 Developments on both sides of the Atlantic keep the administration busy in 1794. Prominent envoys are sent to both Britain and France in order to avert the US being drawn into conflict with a foreign power. General Wayne and his troops march into action in the Northwest Territory. Even Washington is getting into the action as he heads into the field to face the rebels in western Pennsylvania. Though only five years old, the new government under the Constitution is tested like never before.

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December 13, 2017

1.215 – Martha Washington

Year(s) Discussed: 1731-1802 In this special episode, we take a closer look at Martha Washington, the woman who would serve as the nation’s first First Lady before the term was even crafted for the role. To help us better understand her life and her role in American history, I am joined in this episode by Presidential and First Ladies historian Feather Schwartz Foster who shares her knowledge and insights about Martha’s strengths and shortcomings, the Washingtons’ marriage, how Martha approached her public and household duties after her husband took the oath of office in 1789, and what impact Martha had on crafting the role of the First Lady.

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November 26, 2017

1.21 – The Bigger They Are

Year(s) Discussed: 1792-1794 The Washington administration is beset by various problems in the west while the British threaten American shipping interests in the West Indies, leading the two nations on the path to war. Though growing ever more tired of his position, President Washington must devise a plan to thwart attempts at rebellion in the west, decide upon an envoy to send east to London to seek out a diplomatic resolution, and begin work to build the US Navy. No rest for a weary President in 1794!

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November 22, 2017

1.045 – A Proclamation of Thanksgiving

Year(s) Discussed: 1619, 1621, 1789 To mark the upcoming US holiday of Thanksgiving, I wanted to release this special episode to provide a few thoughts on the holiday and its history and legacy as well as share with you President Washington’s proclamation issued on October 3rd, 1789 calling for the first day of national Thanksgiving under the constitutional government.

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November 12, 2017

1.205 – Randolph

Year(s) Discussed: 1753-1789 Though well known in his own day, Thomas Jefferson’s successor at the State Department is little known to modern audiences. Thus, I present this special episode in order to help you understand our second Secretary of State. His name has been brought up in the podcast previously as he was the first Attorney General, but there are a few key points that you’ll want to pay attention to about this Virginian’s story as they might just come to play in the not too distant future.

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October 29, 2017

1.20 – Go West, Young Men

Year(s) Discussed: 1792-1794 Washington and his administration adjusts to the shake-up following Jefferson’s departure from the Cabinet. Meanwhile, attention is turned west due to General Wayne making steps to take his Legion of the United States into action as an attempt at negotiation with native forces fails in part because of British interference. The federal government must also decide how to approach an increased uproar coming from western Pennsylvania over the whiskey excise tax. Though Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton has to devote a good portion of his time in the first part of 1794 to defending his record, this doesn’t stop him from meddling in affairs with other parts of the government.

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October 15, 2017

1.19 – Rebellion

Year(s) Discussed: 1791-1794 As Washington sets wheels in motion for some rather radical changes to his personal way of life, others at home and abroad start working towards some changes of their own. In western Pennsylvania, small-scale distillers and farmers begin to organize against a new federal tax that would impact them more detrimentally than it would larger operations. In France, as the new French Republic faces food shortages and military setbacks, crowds start agitating for new, more effective leadership. Back in Philadelphia, Secretary of State Jefferson begins packing his bags and wrapping up his work as he counts down to the day set for his departure from the Washington administration. The old status quo seems forever gone as the year 1794 comes roaring in like a lion.

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October 01, 2017

1.18 – Pestilence

Year(s) Discussed: 1786-1793 Washington, his household, and his administration struggle to deal with an epidemic of yellow fever as it makes its way through the city of Philadelphia, indiscriminately infecting people from all walks of life including a resident at the President’s House. In addition to the loss of life, the epidemic brings up questions about how best to utilize medical knowledge to the public good, the role of the press, the relationship of individuals to their environment, and the ability and role of the government in a crisis management situation.

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September 17, 2017

1.17 – Genet Must Go

Year(s) Discussed: 1793 Washington returns to Philadelphia to deal with the continued agitations of French Minister Genêt. Meanwhile, Attorney General Randolph goes south on a fact-finding mission, Philip Freneau continues his attacks against Washington and his administration in the pages of the National Gazette, and events continue to unfold in Europe which have ramifications across the pond. Through all of this, the President has to decide what to do with his partisan Cabinet and how to preserve neutrality without offending either Britain or France.

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September 03, 2017

1.16 – Don’t Mess With Washington

Year(s) Discussed: 1793 The new French Minister to the US arrives in Philadelphia and begins causing a stir both within the Washington administration and out in the streets. Meanwhile, Washington has another bout of ill health but recovers just in time to have to rush back to Mount Vernon despite being in the midst of diplomatic tensions. Party politics are taken to the next level with partisans beginning to organize their efforts just as both Jefferson and Hamilton contemplate their respective exits from the Cabinet to be free to pursue their own aims.

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August 20, 2017

1.15 – It’s Not Easy Being Neutral

Year(s) Discussed: 1791-1793 The British and French are at war, and the Washington administration is caught in the middle. Though the US government had established a Treaty of Alliance with the French back in the Revolutionary War, the administration had to question whether the new French republican government was in fact valid and whether the US was still bound by the treaty made with the government of the recently executed Louis XVI. However, they are given little time to consider the situation as French ships start capturing British vessels off the coast of North America and bringing them into Philadelphia harbor. Washington wants to stay out of it, but will the European powers force his hand?

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August 06, 2017

1.14 – The Second Inaugural

Year(s) Discussed: 1791-1793 The lead up to Washington’s second inaugural ended up being much more dramatic than anyone could have imagined as personal conflicts threatened the construction of the Federal City, Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds threatened to be made public knowledge, and Representative William Branch Giles filed resolutions against Hamilton accusing him of official misconduct and calling for his dismissal. In the middle of all this, a reluctant president turns to his family for support as he prepares himself for what already appears will be a more turbulent four years ahead than his first term had been.

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July 25, 2017

1.13 – Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

Year(s) Discussed: 1792 Washington has an important decision to make as the Election of 1792 looms. Should he accede to the wishes of many and stand for reelection or should he take his weary bones back to Mount Vernon for the remainder of his days? The growing factional agitations that were exacerbated by Hamilton’s submitting his Report on Manufactures as well as a financial panic in 1792 do little to make the situation better. Meanwhile, Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds gets ever more complicated. And did the Attorney General just say something about a potential civil war? Washington’s action-packed first term hits some bumpy roads in this episode.

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July 10, 2017

1.12 – Slavery in America

Content Note: Though not going into graphic detail, I did want to let everyone know upfront that this episode, in discussing slavery, does touch upon the violence associated with slavery including that perpetrated against female enslaved people. Year(s) Discussed: 1490s-1792 European settlers in the Western Hemisphere began practicing slavery in the lands that they found on the other side of the Atlantic in the late 15th century. In this episode, we examine the institution of slavery in what would become the United States as it developed up to the end of Washington’s first term in office. From its beginnings to its codification, we also look at some of the living conditions of enslaved peoples and early efforts to end the practice of slavery. The episode finishes off with bringing the focus back to Washington and how he approached slavery as he participated in the Constitutional Convention and then took office as president.

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June 25, 2017

1.11 – Mad Anthony and His Legion

Year(s) Discussed: 1792-1793 Washington hopes that third time will be the charm as he taps Anthony Wayne, a general who had served under him in the Revolutionary War, to take command of the Army following St. Clair’s defeat and to prosecute military action against native forces in the old Northwest. Wayne, who earned the nickname of “Mad Anthony” during the war, is not necessarily what one would call a conventional officer, however. Will Washington’s gamble pay off? Meanwhile, unknown to everyone, a spy lurks in the midst of the military forces in the West and threatens the future westward expansion of the United States.

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June 18, 2017

1.10 – Agitations 2: Foreign Intrigues

Year(s) Discussed: 1789-1792 Numerous foreign relations issues faced Washington’s first administration. In this episode, we examine how the administration dealt with the Anglo-American trade imbalance, the impact of the French Revolution, Spanish attempts to break the lands west of the Appalachians away from the US, and what would prove to be the only successful major large scale slave insurrection that occurred in the French colony of Saint-Domingue at the beginning of what we now know of as the Haitian Revolution. Hope you have your seatbelts fastened, listeners, cause early 1790s diplomacy can be a bumpy ride!

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May 28, 2017

1.09 – Agitations

Year(s) Discussed: 1789-1791 Increasingly during the Washington administration, tensions were beginning to build between pro-administration and anti-administration factions which would ultimately culminate in the development of the First Party System. This episode looks at some of the structural and cultural reasons for these divisions as well as some of the early leaders of the two factions including, of course Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson.

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May 14, 2017

1.08 – Banking and Drinking

Year(s) Discussed: 1789-1791 The government is on the move! As the federal government transitions to its new temporary capitol while Washington selects a site for the permanent capitol along the Potomac, it is also forced to deal with the most controversial proposal put forward to date: the creation of a National Bank. Meanwhile, Hamilton’s proposal of an excise tax on whiskey sails through and a new state is added to the Union.

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April 30, 2017

1.07 – Arthur St Clair: Worst. General. Ever.

Year(s) Discussed: 1789-1792 While Congress deliberates on the course of the nation in New York, settlers in the frontier were forging ahead with their own future beyond the Appalachian mountains. In this episode, we look at the development of territories in the west and discuss how the Washington administration prioritized affairs in the region. The military’s role in the area is discussed at some length including the not-so-stellar outcomes of two campaigns against native peoples in the Northwest Territory and what impact this would have on the administration and the nation.

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April 16, 2017

1.06 – Assumption, Presumption, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off

Year(s) Discussed: 1790 The new government of the United States comes grinding to a halt in the spring and summer of 1790 as Congress reaches an impasse on both Hamilton’s proposed public credit scheme and the decision of where the new government should be permanently located. Ultimately, a decision is reached on both, but how it came about is rather complicated. If you’ve ever heard of the Compromise of 1790, then you’ll want to listen to this episode as there’s more to the story than has been told over the years. Meanwhile, health concerns plague a couple of major American figures, bringing even more uncertainty to an already unstable time. All the big players are in this one – Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Knox, and, of course, Mr. President.

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April 02, 2017

1.05 – Take This Report and File It

Year(s) Discussed: 1790 Hamilton’s Report on the Public Credit is sent to Congress in January 1790 and immediately causes an uproar. As congressmen divide into pro and anti-administration factions on this issue, I take a closer look in this episode at the report and Hamilton’s proposals on how to deal with the public credit in order to ensure “the honor and prosperity of the United States” as well as what James Madison thought of Hamilton’s ideas.

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March 19, 2017

1.04 – The Dream Team

Year(s) Discussed: 1789 After a debate over how much authority Washington would exert over its officers, the executive branch begins to take shape. I examine both the original Cabinet members and the departments as they were at the beginning of the constitutional government. Then, as Washington leaves town to take a tour of the New England states, a personal scandal becomes the talk of the town in New York City. Romantic liaisons, conflicts of interest, and strong opinions over postal routes are all to be found in this episode.

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March 05, 2017

1.03 – Year One

Year(s) Discussed: 1789 Washington’s inauguration, while starting up the wheels of the executive branch, leaves many questions to be answered by the first chief executive and the new government. What titles will be used to address the president? How will he make himself available to the public and to the other branches of government? What does seeking “the Advice and Consent of the Senate” really mean anyway? So much of what we take for granted with the presidency nowadays is established in Washington’s first few months on the job, and these precedents that he established in the early part of his administration are the focus of this episode.

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February 20, 2017

1.025 – Hamilton

Year(s) Discussed: c. 1755-1787 In honor of Presidents’ Day, I am releasing this special mini-episode on the life of Alexander Hamilton leading up to the Constitutional Convention. As I am not Lin-Manuel Miranda and would likely drive listeners off if I attempted to sing, this is a spoken summation of Hamilton’s life including the challenges of his childhood, his early involvement in politics, his tenure in the Army during the Revolutionary War, and his career progression following the war.

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February 19, 2017

1.02 – Washington Pre-Presidency Part Two

Year(s) Discussed: 1764-1789 The colonies along the Atlantic seaboard declare independence and go to war with Great Britain, and George Washington is in the middle of all of the action. The lead up and the prosecution of the revolution would lift Washington from being just another Virginia planter to become “the Father of His Country” as he had to develop his skills as a politician, a military commander, a spymaster, and an administrator in order to ensure success for him and the colonial cause. In the midst of the social and political turmoil, personal tragedy struck the Washingtons at the beginning and the end of the Revolution, and the conclusion of the war would find Washington handing back all of the power that had been entrusted to him. His retirement would be short-lived as the new nation would soon find itself at a crisis point that only Washington could save them from.

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February 05, 2017

1.01 – Washington Pre-Presidency Part One

Year(s) Discussed: 1732-1764 Our examination of George Washington begins with his early life in Virginia. Washington has to cope with personal loss and self-improvement as he works to make his way in the world. The coming of the French and Indian War takes his life in a new direction and sets the stage for the Revolution to come. We also look at his marriage to Martha Dandridge Custis and his establishment of industries based on slavery at Mount Vernon.

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