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Listening to America

Listening to America

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Listening to America aims to “light out for the territories,” traveling less visited byways and taking time to see this immense, extraordinary country with fresh eyes while listening to the many voices of America’s past, present, and future. Led by noted historian and humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson, Listening to America travels the country’s less visited byways, from national parks and forests to historic sites to countless under-recognized rural and urban places. Through this exploration ...
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Clay Jenkinson and special guest host Russ Eagle discuss the first days of Listening to America’s Travels with Charley Tour. Clay reports from a campground near Cedar Rapids, Iowa en route to Sag Harbor out on the end of Long Island, New York, to touch base with Steinbeck’s starting point for his 1960 journey through America. Clay recounts his wres…
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Clay Jenkinson interviews political cartoonist Phil Hands about the importance of cartoons in American history. Hands is the house cartoonist for the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, Wisconsin, syndicated for a range of newspapers around the United States. We gave much of our attention to political cartoons about Thomas Jefferson, including one …
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Guest host David Horton of Radford University discusses America’s trees and forests with Third President Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson said, “No sprig of grass grows uninteresting to me.” He told his friend Margaret Bayard Smith that any unnecessary cutting down of a tree should be regarded as silvicide, the murder of a majestic living thing. Jeffers…
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Clay Jenkinson’s conversation with regular guest Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky about the doctrine of nullification. That’s when a state refuses to accept the legitimacy of a federal law. Nullification is nowhere enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, but through the course of American history a number of nullification crises have arisen. When the Adams admin…
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Clay Jenkinson joins his friend Dennis McKenna in Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico to observe the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. Chaco Canyon dates to at least the ninth century CE, more than a thousand years ago, and somehow their skywatchers know how to observe equinoxes, solstices, and eclipses. What better place to see the solar eclipse…
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In this special edition program, Listening to America records in front of a live audience at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, Oklahoma. Clay Jenkinson and Professor of Political Science Dr. Aaron Mason focus their conversation on Thomas Jefferson and his influence on the American West. Dr. Mason is also co-executive director of the N…
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Listen in on Clay Jenkinson’s conversation with media consultants Luke Peterson and Riki Conrey of Washington, DC. Luke distributed a survey based on our questions about America at 250 and 2,700 people responded. Some survey results are discussed, but also the question of how exactly does Clay or anyone else go out to listen to America? How do you …
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Clay Jenkinson’s interview with the distinguished Dutch journalist Geert Mak, the author of In Europe, and also In America: Travels with John Steinbeck. In 2010 Geert Mak and his wife retraced the entire Steinbeck journey in a rented Jeep. After he returned to the Netherlands, Mak wrote a 550-page account of his travels. Though Steinbeck isn’t the …
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Clay Jenkinson and regular guest Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky talk about the ways in which the Constitution of the United States is impeding and even preventing good government, with a particular focus on the coming election of 2024. Topics include the need for a uniform national election procedures act; the many problems of the Electoral College; and th…
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Clay Jenkinson is joined by regular guest Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky to discuss the extraordinary correspondence between former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Between 1812 and 1826, they exchanged 158 letters, thought by historians to be the finest correspondence in American history. They wrote about their political visions and disagreemen…
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Clay Jenkinson interviews Dr. Henry Brady of the University of California at Berkeley about loss of respect for sixteen American institutions, some public, and some private: the police, the church, the Supreme Court, Higher Education, the FBI, the presidency, and, of course Congress. How did we lose faith? Has there been moral and ethical slippage …
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Guest host David Horton of Virginia leads a discussion with Clay Jenkinson about the difference between Constitutional requirements and what are called presidential norms. George Washington, for example, did not shake hands with the American people. He held formal levees once a week. Jefferson regarded those as monarchical habits and he performed a…
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Clay Jenkinson and guest host David Horton discuss the history of executive orders. Even though they are not authorized by the U.S. Constitution, every president except William Henry Harrison has issued at least one. David and Clay review the most important executive orders in American history: the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863; the Japanese in…
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Clay Jenkinson is joined by regular contributor Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky for a spirited conversation about Margaret Bayard Smith, one of Thomas Jefferson’s greatest admirers. Mrs. Smith, who was 35 years younger than Jefferson, was the wife of the editor of the National Intelligencer, the first Washington, D.C. newspaper. Her letters and journals, pr…
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Clay Jenkinson is joined by regular guest Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky to talk about one of the strangest and most extraordinary people of America’s Early National Period, John Randolph of Roanoke, Virginia. Randolph was a brilliant and flamboyant man, hairless with the voice of a soprano and locked physically in a pre-pubescent state. Yet he was a brill…
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Clay is joined by Dr. Kurt Kemper of Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota, and our west coast Enlightenment correspondent David Nicandri. Both are deeply interested in American sports, both for the sport per se, but also for the window they provide on the larger dynamics of American life. This week’s topics: outsized college coach salar…
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Clay is joined by two guests, David Nicandri the West Coast Enlightenment correspondent for Listening to America and Dr. Kurt Kemper of Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota. Kemper is the author of College Football and American Culture in the Cold War Era. Kemper and Nicandri believe that larger themes in American culture find expressio…
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This week on Listening to America, Clay Jenkinson’s follow-up conversation with Russ Eagle of Salisbury, North Carolina, about following the trail of John Steinbeck. Russ is a former high school teacher and administrator with a vast love of the writer. After his report on the arrival of Steinbeck’s heralded boat, the Western Flyer, in Monterey, we …
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Clay talks with Jeremy Gill of Hays, Kansas, about former Vice President Henry Wallace. Wallace served several presidential administrations, some Republican but more Democrat. He was FDR’s New Deal Secretary of Agriculture, then FDR’s vice president in his third term, 1940-1944. The Democrats dropped Wallace as too radical in 1944, nominating Harry…
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This week on Listening to America, Clay’s conversation with Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky about two of the greatest of the Founders, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson knew of Hamilton’s war heroics and his importance as aide-de-camp to George Washington, but he didn’t actually meet Hamilton until the spring of 1790 when they were two of t…
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This week on Listening to America, Clay Jenkinson interviews professional photographers John and Coleen Graybill of Buena Vista, Colorado, about the life and achievement of Edward S. Curtis. Curtis took 40,000 dry glass plate photographs of Native Americans between 1900 and 1935, and published 20 volumes of his portraits, landscape photographs, mus…
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This week, Clay Jenkinson’s conversation with occasional guest host David Horton about the origins of the Thomas Jefferson Hour and the purpose of changing the name and focus of the program to Listening to America. Clay sings the praises of two hosts, Bill Crystal, now of Virginia, and David Swenson of Makoche Recording Studios in Bismarck, North D…
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This week on Listening to America, Clay Jenkinson’s conversation with regular guest Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky: Ten Things about the Louisiana Purchase. In the spring of 1803 Napoleon sold the entire Louisiana Territory to the United States for three cents per acre. At 525 million acres, or 828,000 square miles, it was the greatest land sale in human h…
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This week, Clay Jenkinson’s conversation with guest host David Horton about three remarkable moments in American history between administrations. First, the tragedy of Meriwether Lewis, who got caught between the outgoing administration of his mentor Thomas Jefferson and the incoming administration of President James Madison, who was no admirer of …
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