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24 May

HP92 – Jamestown


jamestownI’m Jason Watts and your listening to history podcast number 92, Jamestown.

Jamestown, site of the first permanent British settlement in North America, founded May 14, 1607, located on a peninsula (later Jamestown island) in the James River in Virgina. Named in honor of King James I, the colony initiated the cultivation of tobacco, established the first representative government on the continent in 1619, brought the first African slaves to the colonies, and built the first Anglican church in America. Situated in an unhealthful marshy area, the colony always had a small population because of a high mortality rate.

Most of us attribute the early colonies with the Pilgrims, however this group was not trying to escape religious persecution it was hoping to make some profit in the new world. In 1607 Virgina was largely unknown. It was named to honor Elizabeth I, England’s “Virgin Queen”. The new region, which stretched from present-day North Carolina to New England was thought to have untold hidden prizes in the form of gold and other precious minerals. The Northwest Passage was also fabled to exist in this New World. The Northwest passage was supposed to be a passage to the Orient, where the explorers would gain access to the riches of the Orient. Anxious to seize the new resources King James I, approved the plan to settle this new huge territory.

Two companies were to establish colonies. The Virgina Company of London was licensed to utilize the southern section of the territory and the Plymouth Company which was comprised mainly of investors from Plymouth, England, was to colonize the northern portion. In 1607, after just one year, the Plymouth Company failed in their efforts to colonize the Atlantic Coast of modern-day Maine. The Virgina Company chose the Chesapeake Bay area hoping it might be the gateway of the Northwest Passage.

The Spanish had a short-lived mission in the largely uncharted lower Chesapeake in the late 16th century. A group of settlers from the nearby Roanoke colony also had trekked the lower Chesapeake region in 1585-86. Unfortunately, the collapse of Roanoke and the mysterious disappearance of its colonist, coupled with the unwillingness of the Spanish to share intelligence with their English rivals, meant no one on the first voyage had sufficient knowledge of the area or its inhabitants.

Nonetheless, the leaders of the Virginia Company, comprising many prominent members of England’s political and business empires, attempted to set the colony on path. They selected seven men as Jamestown’s governing council, though rather than naming them straight away (an perhaps discouraging other investors from joining), they enclosed the names in a box only to be opened upon landing in Virginia. Along with the names, they included a lengthily set of instructions for founding and operating the colony.

144 sailors and settlers left for Virginia in 1606 aboard the Godspeed, Discovery, and Susan Constant, the largest of the three ships, with Newport at the helm. Among the 105 settlers making the voyage, more than one-third were male investors. Undoubtedly hoping to protect their investments and provide leadership, their aim was to make a quick profit on the gold and silver. They expected to mine and return to England as rich men. Although, many would never see their homes again.

In April 1607 they arrived on the Virginia coast. Newport opened the box containing the instructions for the endeavor. The appointed seven councilors included Newport, Smith and Wingfield, who was also selected as first president of the council.

Instead of providing leadership for the colony, the council devolved into factionalism and trivial jealousy. The bickering among the leaders proved to be deadly for the new colony.

The leaders selected a marshy strip of land barely attached to the north shore of the James River and named it Jamestown after their king. Newport returned to England in June with two ships carrying samples of sassafras and clapboard, which the settlers had produced in the seven weeks since founding Jamestown.

After Newport left, the council ordered most to search for gold and working to produce goods to ship back to England. Their search for precious minerals took valuable time and energy away from constructing shelters and maintaining crops, the few crops that they had planted. The various expeditions between 1607 and 1610 failed to find significant mineral deposits or the rumored passage to the Pacific.

As the region’s summer heat began to wear on the Englishmen, their choice of location proved to be increasingly impractical. Fed by the salty James River, wells turned putrid during the late summer, and a major drought that corresponded with their arrival minimized the chances of finding fresh water.

And while sporadic attacks by local Indians caused wounds and a few deaths, the major killers were dysentery, typhoid and salt poisoning from the afore mentioned wells. When Newport returned from England in January 1608, just over a third of the original settlers were left. Wingfield had been removed as council leader on charges of plotting with the Spanish to destroy the colony, and Smith again faced hanging by his rivals. The leaders had completely turned against each other, and those who remained in power were ready to give up and return to England, leaving the non-investors to fend for themselves in the Virginia wilderness.

Newport’s return provided brief relief. He brought new supplies and 100 new settlers. However, shortly after the supplies were unloaded and repairs begun on the fort had begun, a fire destroyed all but three buildings and the majority of the supplies intended to last the entire winter. The survival of the colony now depended on the Powhatan Indians.

The Powhatans were a loose association of about 30 tribes whose lands spanned from the James River to the Potomac River and from the Atlantic to the site of modern Richmond. They were led by Wahunsonacock, who had commanded leadership of several small tribes in the vicinity of Jamestown in the 1570s. He proved daunting match for the English.

Wahunsonacock commanded the trade throughout his region, especially copper, skins, pearls, and tobacco. He undoubtedly saw the arrival of the English, with their wealth of metal goods, weapons, and glass beads, as an chance to maintain his position as Powhatan leader.

The desire for trade on both sides kept the colony alive through their first winter. John Smith played a pivotal role in establishing contact with the Powhatans, trading for food throughout the fall of 1607. He became vital as the ambassador between the English and Powhatan.

The Indians originally welcomed Smith as a trader, but as the settlers’ need for corn and meat increased, it became increasingly complex to work with Wahunsonacock. Smith used threats and force, coupled with rewards of trade goods, to acquire enough food to keep the colony alive.

Smith’s efforts, along with the death or departure of other council members helped Smith achieve leadership of the colony in September 1608. He quickly organized new rules to make the colony more self-sufficient, though his “no work, no food” policy made him less popular than ever with the other gentlemen.

Smith took pleasure in his greatest success during Jamestown’s early years when he concentrated on securing food and making merchandise to be returned to England for profit. He sent men to live at the falls (near present-day Richmond) and at the mouth of the James River to attain food sources; this plan put him further at odds with other leaders. He returned to England in October 1609, luckily for him, he missed the coming disaster of the following winter.

By late 1609 Wahunsonacock had had enough of the Englishmen. As the drought continued, the Powhatans’ food supplies also dwindled. The English settlers’ raided Wahunsonacock villages taking what little food they had and ruining relations.

During the winter of 1609-10 the Powhatans cutoff trade with the English and overwhelmed their fort. More than 200 settlers were trapped inside, and with minimal food they perished. Parties from the fort, sent to re-establish trade with the Powhatans, were ambushed and slain. Disease and starvations persisted through the winter; the settler’s were reduced to eating horses, rats, shoe leather … and each other. Only 60 Jamestown colonists survived the brutal winter, which is now known as the Starving Time.

In 1610 Jamestown was about to be abandoned by its inhabitants when Thomas West, Lord De La Warr, arrived with new energy and new supplies.

New leaders instituted martial law and responded to Powhatan attacks with their own. By 1614 Wahunsonacock’s forces were largely defeated and English settlers began expanding along the James River. A fragile peace was established in 1614 when Wahunsonacock’s daughter Pocahontas married Englishman John Rolfe.

Jamestown fell into decay when the seat of government of Virginia was moved in 1699 to the Middle Plantation (later Williamsburg).

By the mid-18th century the peninsula had become an island. Conservation efforts halted the erosion of the site, and excavations uncovered artifacts. In 1936 the island was incorporated into the Colonial National Historical Park, and 17th-century replicas have re-created the colonial atmosphere.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

The History Channel Magazine, March/April 2007, ‘Easy Riches Seduce Investors’, by Kevin Maijala, p. 28 – 34

10 May

HP91 – Hawaiian Volcanoes


Hawaiian VolcanoesHi my name is Michelle; I’m the wife of the History Podcast’s founder Jason. I have presented some episodes quite a while ago, so I thought I’d release an episode after an extended hiatus.

This podcast is on the History of the Hawaiian volcanoes. Here’s some insight as to why I selected this particular topic. I have always been intrigued and fascinated by volcanoes. I’m grateful for having the opportunity to view the dramatic differences in the size, scope, and topography of a few volcanic areas. I have visited Mount Lassen, a volcano in Northern California multiple times. Plus, I walked the calderas of Yellowstone National Park, a few years ago. These volcanic areas are definitely scenic, despite the foul odors caused by sulfur gases. The volcanic chain that makes up the Hawaiian Islands is so beautiful and vibrant. Seeing Diamond Head on the Island of Oahu and the volcanic rocks on Kauai, I decided to learn more about this volcanic chain that forms the Hawaiian Islands. The main Hawaiian Islands visited by tourists consist of: Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Hawaii.

Here’s a brief discussion to the History of the Hawaiian Volcanoes:

The Hawaiian Volcanoes are a type of volcano called hotspots. In geology, a hotspot is a location on the Earth’s surface that has experienced active volcanism for a long duration of time. The hot and fluid type of magma creating these volcanic products is basalt. Hotspot volcanoes tend to be shield volcanoes that rarely erupt explosively and practically all are found on oceanic plates. The Hawaiian volcanoes are the most studied hotspot volcanoes and are situated in close proximity to the Pacific Plate. Most of the Hawaiian volcanoes, specifically the volcanoes that make up the Hawaiian Islands, go through several defined stages of evolution during their lifespan. These growth stages are impacted by the position of the volcano in relation to the hotspot, whether the volcano’s summit lies below, near, or above sea level, as well as by the composition of the lava being erupted.

As just shared, various stages of volcanic activity exist, with a majority of the volcano’s growth occurring in the shield stage. During this stage of growth, the volcano accumulates about 95 percent of its mass and it takes on the “shield” shape, hence the name shield volcanoes. In addition, this is the stage where the volcano’s eruptive frequency reaches its peak. The phases of the shield stage consist of: submarine, explosive, and subaerial phases. When volcanoes come close to sea level, the pressures that prevented explosive reactions between erupting lava and water no longer exist. As this point is reached, the volcanoes enter the explosive phase of the shield stage. In this phase, lava and seawater interact to cause explosive eruptions. These eruptions are rich in ash and continue intermittently for several hundred thousand years. Calderas continually develop and fill, and the rift zones remain prominent. The phase ends when the volcano has sufficient mass and height, typically about 4,000 feet above sea level. The constant interactions between seawater and erupting lava at vent locations no longer occur at the conclusion of the explosive phase. During Subaerial Phase, the explosive eruptions become much less frequent and the nature of the eruptions become much more subdued. The edges of the growing volcanoes are unstable causing potential landslide occurrences. This stage is arguably the most well-studied, due to all eruptions that occurred in the 20th century in Hawaii were produced by volcanoes in this phase. Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes are in this phase of activity.

Kilauea and Mauna Loa are two of the most active volcanoes in the world, which are located on the island of Hawaii on the southeast end of the Hawaiian Volcanic chain. In addition, the five volcanoes that form the island of Hawaii are all less than 1,000,000 years old.

In the northwestern direction, the Hawaiian Islands are progressively older. The extinct volcano that formed the island of Kauai is about 5,000,000 years old. That means that there is a span of 4,000,000 years difference in volcanic age between the islands of Kauai and Hawaii. Evidence has suggested that the hotspot forming the Hawaiian volcanoes is in a relatively fixed position. As a result, the movement of the Pacific Plate has been northwestward at a rate of approximately 10 cm annually. The Emperor Seamounts encompass an entirely submarine ridge that continues northward to the edge of the Pacific Plate. By viewing topographic maps, the Hawaiian Islands are a continuation to the Hawaiian ridge and bend into the Emperor Seamounts.

The ages of the volcanic rocks of the Emperor Seamounts, garnered by dredging and drilling, has determined that the Hawaiian-Emperor Ridge is a progressively older volcano formed at by volcanism at the Hawaiian hot spot. This integral center of volcanism in the Pacific has been active for at least 80MM years. The Pacific Plate has moved over it as just mentioned at the rate of 8 – 10 cm per year. The bend that exists between the Emperor Seamount and Hawaiian Ridge occurred about 40MM years ago. This indicates a noteworthy shift in the direction of the Pacific Plate.

The rationale for a volcanic hotspot maintaining its position for millions of years with a plate passing over it is unknown. A theory is that a hotspot is a deep mantle plume caused by very slow convection of highly vicious mantle material. With hot yet solid material moving upward, partial melting may occur from the lowering of its pressure dependent melting temperature. Within the next couple of decades, due to thorough seismic sounding of the mantle, the knowledge of the mechanics of hotspots should be discovered and understood more fully.

Hope the concise background of the formation of the Hawaiian Volcanoes proved enlightening. In conclusion, I wanted to share that the United States National Parks Service includes the Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The park highlights two of the world’s most active volcanoes just mentioned, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Extensive insight on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and views of dramatic volcanic landscapes are offered at this National Park.

Here’s some relevant trivia:

The Hawaiian Islands form an archipelago of nineteen islands and atolls, numerous smaller islands and atolls, and undersea seamounts trending northwest by southeast in the North Pacific Ocean. The Hawaiian Islands were once known as the Sandwich Islands, which was the name given to the Hawaiian Islands by Captain James Cook on his discovery of the islands on January 18, 1778. The name was made in honor of one of his sponsors and superior officer, John Montague, 4th Earl of Sandwich. During the late 19th century, the name Sandwich Islands was no longer a term used to reference the Hawaiian Islands.

Mahalo or thank you in Hawaiian for listening to this history podcast!

19 March

HP89 – Mongol Success Legacy


This one was a guest podcast so I have not script to share with you guys.  Sorry!

04 March

HP88 – John Paul Jones


John Paul Jones

Welcome to history podcast 88. We will be giving away some goodies from the History Channel at the end of this episode so stay tuned after the history to hear how you can win. Now I would like to cover an old request from the new forums board. The forums can be found at This one is from Ben K. Ben asks,

“Jason, I would like to make a suggestion about a podcast on John Paul Jones. I recently read an article in Smithsonian about his body and it’s reburial from Paris. After reading the article I realized I don’t really know much about John Paul Jones at all and the article did not go into much detail about his life. I thought it might make an interesting podcast. Thanks, Ben, Katy TX”

Thank you for the suggestion Ben! There are some French names and places in this one so please bear with me the pronunciations. John Paul Jones’s original name was a little shorter, at just John Paul. He was born on July 6, 1747 to a master gardener on a Scottish estate. In short, John Paul is an American naval hero in the U.S. War of Independence renowned for his victory over British ships of war off the east coast of England on September 23, 1779.

Apprenticed at the age of 12 to John Younger, a Scottish merchant shipper, John Paul sailed as a cabin boy on a ship to Virginia, where he visited his older brother William at Fredericksburg. When Younger’s business failed in 1766, Paul found work as a chief mate of a Jamaica-owned slaver brigantine. After two years he quit the slave trade and shipped passage for Scotland. When both master and chief mate died of fever en route, he brought the ship safely home and was appointed a master. In 1772 he purchased a vessel in the West Indies but the following year, after killing the ringleader of a mutinous crew, he fled the islands to escape trial and changed his name to John Paul Jones. Two years later he returned to Fredericksburg and when the Revolutionary War broke out, he went to Philadelphia and was commissioned a senior lieutenant in the new Continental Navy.

Assigned to the “Alfred,” flagship of the little fleet commanded by Commo. Jones distinguished himself in action in the Bahamas and against the British ship “Glasgow” on the return trip. In 1776 he was in command of the “Providence,” and between August and October he ranged over the Atlantic from Bermuda to Nova Scotia, twice outwitting British frigates, manning and sending in eight prizes, and sinking and burning many more. Again in charge of the “Alfred,” later in the same year, he reached port unmolested with several prizes in tow.

Appointed by Congress to the newly built “Ranger” in June 1977, Jones made a spectacular cruise through St. George’s Channel and the Irish Sea, where he took a number of prizes. Arriving at Brest, Fr. On May 8, 1778, he was hailed as a hero by the French. He was once described by President John Adams as “the most ambitious and intriguing officer in the American Navy.”

In August 1779 Jones took command of a ship on loan from the French, named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, then serving as an envoy to France, whose popular “Poor Richard’s Almanac” had been translated as “Les Maximes du Bonhomme Richard.” “Bonhomme Richard” (here afterward referred to as Richard).

Jones’ mission aboard his loaned French ship was two-fold. He was to lead a small squadron harassing the Irish and English coasts and act as a diversion for a planned invasion of England by a combined French and Spanish fleet. But epidemics of small pox and typhus aborted the invasion, so Jones continued his raids on his own. He captured merchant ships and on Sept. 14 launched an assault on Leith, the main port of Edinburgh, only to be repelled by a sudden gale. On the 23rd, he sighted a vast convoy carrying naval supplies from Scandinavia, guarded by just two British ships, the 44 gun Serpis and the smaller Countess of Scarborough. At 5pm he ordered his crew to prepare for battle.

What followed was one of the most famous naval engagements in American history. The now forgotten battle was fought off a chalk cliff called Flamborogh Head. And is now called The Battle of Flamborogh Head.

One ship in his squadron chased the Countess of Scarsbough. But the others – including the largest, a 36-gun American frigate, the Alliance, commanded by a French officer – did not follow the Richard toward the Serapis.

The Richard was a converted merchantman. It had a larger crew than the Serapis, including about 100 Americans released in a prisoner exchange, and it carried almost as many cannon. But the heaviest were six old guns carried below the main deck. On the second broadside, fired about 7:15 p.m., at least one of the heavy guns burst. The explosion ripped a gaping hole in the Richard’s starboard side and Jones ordered the remaining big cannon abandoned.

At 7:30 the Serapis, with a better-trained crew, crossed the Richard’s stern, firing three broadsides that killed 22 marines. Already the Richard was leaking below the waterline. At 8 p.m. a light wind died to almost nothing, and the two ships collided when the Serapis tried to cross the Richard’s bow for another raking broadside. The ships separated, and then collided again.

This time Jones lashed them fast together, the Serapis’ bow grinding against the Richard’s stern. As the battle progressed, marksmen high in the Richard’s mast drove the English off their exposed main deck. But the Serapis gun crews protected below deck continued to batter the Richard, so that by 9 p.m. the Richard had only three small cannon left.

Eventually the Serapis’ heavier guns inflicted so much damage that their cannon balls began to fly straight through Jones’ ship, touching nothing. Jones was at one of them, directing fire at the Serapis’ main mast, when his carpenter and gunner’s mate, who’d seen the devastation below deck, tried to strike the Richard’s flag, lowering it to signal surrender. Jones turned from his cannon to stop them. An enraged Jones leveled a pistol at one and pulled the trigger. Then, when the gun misfired, he threw it at the fleeing pair, breaking ones skull. Soon after he heard the Serapis’ captain shout if he wanted to give up the battle.

Decades later, one of Jones’ lieutenants would tell a biographer that his captain replied, “I have not yet begun to fight.” But what he probably said was something like, “I may sink, but I’ll be damned if I strike.” In his own report, written several days later, Jones only said he “answered in the most determined negative” and that the battle then resumed with “double fury.”

It continued for another hour, growing more incredible. Twice the Alliance appeared out of nowhere to fire broadsides of grapeshot – at both ships. Somebody released English prisoners trapped deep inside the sinking Richard to save them from drowning. Instead of joining the fight, the prisoners, who had been taken in earlier actions, manned the Richard’s pumps to keep it afloat.

The end came suddenly, around 10:15, when a sailor crawled out on one of the Richard’s yardarms with a bucket of grenades. He began dropping them toward a half-open hatch on the Serapis. One bounced through and a series of explosions followed. The grenade ignited powder cartridges piled near the English cannon, setting off a flash fire. At almost the same time, the Serapis’ splintered main mast toppled.

After trying to save the Richard, Jones escaped on the re-rigged Serapis, eluding British pursuers on his way to a neutral port in Holland. He’d always sought glory and he got it. King Louis XVI gave him a sword to commemorate his victory, and he became the toast of Paris, where in the fashion of the time, he had many mistresses. Thomas Jefferson would keep a bust of Jones alongside those of Franklin, Lafayette and Washington.

But the rest of his life was mostly frustration. The Revolution ended before he saw any more real action, and the new nation had no money for a navy. In 1788, he was loaned to Catherine the Great of Russia to lead her Black Sea fleet in a war against Turks. He won a decisive victory, but left Russia in disgrace after being caught, or entrapped, in a sex scandal involving a young prostitute.

He died alone in Paris in July 1792, where his body, preserved in alcohol, was buried in a lead-lined coffin. More than a century later, in 1905, the coffin was dug up and sent to the U.S. in great pomp and circumstance. President Teddy Roosevelt, an advocate of naval power, presided at Jones’ reburial beneath the U.S. Navel Academy Chapel. “Every officer should know by heart the deeds of John Paul Jones,” Roosevelt said.

Jones, still known as the father of the U.S. Navy, was already immortal. Herman Melville in one of his later novels placed his fictional hero, Israel Potter, aboard the Richard at the Battle of Flamborough Head and wrote these words:

“Intrepid, unprincipled, reckless, predatory, with boundless ambition, civilized in externals but savage at heart, America is, or may yet be, the Paul Jones of nations.”

As of August 2006, an attempt was underway to resurrect Jones’ ship and its place in history. Since mid-July 2006, an expedition launched from the Avery Point campus of the University of Connecticut in Groton has been searching the North Sea for the wreck of the Richard. Already sinking under its still fighting crew, it went down the next day, abandoned by Jones in favor of the captured Serapis.

The battle sowed doubts about the war among the English and pushed the French closer to the American side. The battle also made Jones a celebrity on both sides of the Atlantic.

Thank you for listening to this episode of history podcast. You can visit the website at Many thanks to the history channel for their generous donation of a DVD and book. This week we will be giving away the DVD to a lucky listener. The question to win the history channel DVD Digging for the Truth: Pompeii Secrets Revealed is What year was John Paul Jones born?

One last note. I have been enjoying some podcast that UC Berkley has been doing. There is even a history class being recorded and set up as a podcast. You can learn more and subscribe at


Encyclopedia Britannica


The Hartford Courant “Looking for the Master and Commander’s Lost Ship”, By Joel Lang, August 6, 2006


S.E. Morison, John Paul Jones, a Sailor’s Biography (1959)

John Paul Jones, fighter for freedom and glory,: United States naval institute,

14 February

HP87 – Battle of New Orleans


Sorry no transcript of this episode as it was a guest podcast from Gene G.

27 January

HP86 – Australia Day


Australia DayAustralia Day celebrates the anniversary of Captain Arthur Phillip unfurling the British flag at Sydney Cove and proclaiming British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia on 26 January 1788. That’s 219 years!

The quest for the celebration of a united Australian national day commenced within a few years of the First Fleet landing and the subsequent white settlement of this island continent.

January 26, through more than 200 years of debate and controversy, has remained the Australian celebratory national day since that date in January 1788 when ‘formal possession was taken of the Colony of New South Wales. On that day, Captain Arthur Phillip became Governor of the Colony.

The fledgling colony soon began to mark the anniversary of 26 January 1788 with formal dinners and informal celebrations. Manning Clark noted that on January 26, 1808, the ‘anniversary of the foundation of the colony’ was observed in the traditional manner with ‘drinking and merriment’. John Macarthur Senior had ensured his soldiers were amply supplied with liquor, bonfires were blazing and private houses illuminated.

By 1820, Australia was beginning to look undeniably prosperous and sentiments of Australian patriotism were being expressed at gatherings of ex-convicts. The sense of belonging to a new nation was encouraged in 1817 when Governor Macquarie recommended the adoption of the name Australia, instead of New Holland, for the entire continent.

An article in the Sydney Gazette on February 1, 1817 records a typical anniversary dinner held in the house of Isaac Nichols, a respected emancipist and Australia’s first Postmaster. Similar dinners are described involving William Charles Wentworth and friends on 26 January 1825 and 1828, when the catchcry and traditional toast had already become ‘to the land, boys, we live in’. Many ex-convicts owned and ran the wealthiest and most successful businesses in the colony.

The first official celebrations were held in 1818, marking the 30th anniversary of white settlement. Governor Macquarie ordered a salute of 30 guns to be fired from the battery at Dawes Point and in the evening gave a dinner at Government House for civil and military officers. A ball followed, hosted by Mrs Macquarie.

During this time the day was called Foundation Day. Throughout the early 19th century, the day became one for sporting events, with horse races popular from the 1820s and regattas from the 1830s.

The growing sense of patriotism was being expressed in other ways. Young Charles Tompson, reputed to be our first Australian-born poet and the son of a transportee, was moved to compose eight stanzas of tribute to his native country for 26 January 1824 titled ‘Wild Notes from the Lyre of a Native Minstrel’.

Edward Smith Hall, proprietor and publisher of The Monitor, had people such as Charles Tompson in mind when he wrote, in 1821, ‘the circumstances of the parents of the most of them having come to the country in bondage, so far from making them humble, causes them to be the proudest people in the world…the circumstance of being free is felt by them with a strength bordering on fierce enthusiasm.’

Fifty years after Phillip landed, in 1838, a number of celebratory events were organised and the first public holiday ever marked in Australia was announced for the 26 January in that year.

In distinct contrast to the mainly private and somewhat elitist anniversary dinners in previous years, January 26, 1838 became a day for everyone.

By 1888, Australia’s population numbered almost three million and many changes had taken place over the previous 50 years. Gold had been discovered in the 1850s, in places such as Bendigo and Ballarat, bringing great wealth, immigration from all over the world and increased agitation for democratic reforms (taxation and representation).

The first centenary of white settlement was celebrated with great enthusiasm. With the exception of Adelaide, all colonial capitals declared Anniversary Day 1888 a public holiday and celebrations took place throughout the colonies. Ceremonies, parades, exhibitions, fireworks, banquets, and church services were popular. In Melbourne there was a Centennial International Exhibition that remained open from August 1888 to February 1889, attracting nearly two million visitors.

The centenary was also marked by numerous historical publications and commemorative volumes as well as souvenirs and other centenary ephemera. Australians were beginning to talk widely about other political questions of the day, including the move towards Federation.

In 1871 the Australian Natives Association (ANA) was formed in Victoria. This was the first Australian Friendly Society and its motto was Advance Australia. The group, which had particular influence in the period between the 1890s to around 1914, had strong nationalistic aspirations and its members included Edmund Barton (who became our first Prime Minister), Alfred Deakin (Australia’s second Prime Minister) and Sir Isaac Isaacs (our first Australian-born Governor-General).

The ANA grew rapidly and branches were formed across Victoria and in all states as well as a branch in London. By the 1880s, the group was making a nation-wide impact.

The ANA supported many issues including afforestation, an Australian-made goods policy, water conservation, Aboriginal welfare, the celebration of proper and meaningful citizenship ceremonies, following the increased levels of migration after World War II, and the adoption of the wattle as the national floral emblem (accepted in 1912).

However, some of their strongest support was for Federation and a united Commonwealth (along with the Federation League), the celebration of a unified national day and the naming of that day Australia Day.

The general public appears to have embraced the 150th anniversary in 1938 with great enthusiasm. There were many celebrations and events for the Sesquicentenary – picnics, balls, musical performances and fireworks.

A significant amount of memorabilia remains from the celebrations – invitations, pamphlets, program brochures, tourist leaflets from large regional towns and musical, art and literary competitions, indicating the number of events that took place. However, little in the way of permanent structures and reminders were created during 1938, unlike the 1988 Bicentenary.

The euphoria of the 150th anniversary celebrations was maintained as February 1938 saw the staging of the British Empire Games in Australia for the first time. Of the 70 events held in Sydney, Australia won 24, far ahead of her nearest rival Canada with 13.

Since its formation in 1871, the ANA Association had been working towards the unified naming and dating of our national day. Following their concerted efforts and with the support of similar movements, the Commonwealth Government and all States and Territories finally agreed, in 1946, to observe the same National Day – 26 January – and to call that day Australia Day.

Separate Australian citizenship became law for the first time in 1949. The waves of non-British immigration after 1945 led to a new role for Australia Day, one that celebrated new citizenship with naturalisation ceremonies (now citizenship ceremonies).

An article in the Australia and New Zealand Weekly in January 1963 commented on the timing of naturalisation ceremonies for January 26, claiming that ‘this year, 4,500 ‘New Australians’ will become fully-fledged Australian citizens’. Citizenship ceremonies are still an integral part of Australia Day celebrations around the nation.

Celebrations began to recognise Australian excellence with Sir MacFarlane Burnet named the first Australian of the Year in 1960. Eight years later Lionel Rose became the first Aboriginal Australian of the Year. This annual award is now a popular tradition.

In 1979 the National Australia Day Council was formed and the Australia Day Committee (Victoria) was formed in 1982. From its inception, the Committee encouraged local celebrations, working with Councils and communities across Victoria to celebrate Australia Day. The Australia Day Committee (Victoria) also organises the Australia Day activities in Melbourne, and co-ordinates a number of year round programs associated with Australia Day.

However, the Australia Day public holiday was still held on the Monday closest to January 26 and to the broader community it was just another holiday.

By 26 January 1988, the community was ready to join in the excitement of the Bicentennial Celebrations. The world saw a ‘spirited and emotional country’ as Australians enjoyed the many spectacular events. In our bi-centenary year, 1988, the Australia Day public holiday was held around the nation on January 26. The highlight of the many celebrations was a re-enactment of the First Fleet’s voyage that departed from Portsmouth on May 13, 1987 and arrived in Australia in early January. Britain presented the tall ship, Young Endeavour, to Australia as its bi-centennial present.

1988 was also named a Year of Mourning for Australia’s Aboriginal people, who regarded the year as a celebration of survival. It was the most vocal Indigenous presence ever felt on January 26.

It was not until 1994 however, that all the states and territories endorsed the celebration of Australia Day on the actual day instead of the closest Monday. United Australia Day celebrations have been held on 26 January ever since.

Since 1988 Australia Day celebrations across the country have continued to grow in number and stature. Ceremonies now appeal to a broad community audience and attendances have increased considerably over the last 5-10 years.

While January 26 has remained our National Day from the time of Phillip’s landing, discussion has taken place since the 1800s on the pros and cons of this particular date. Over the years, the reason cited for a possible change of date has been varied – historical, practical and most recently, the desire for reconciliation with our Indigenous population.

The Centenary of Federation celebrations, held throughout Australia in 2001, opened and closed on Australia Day.

For Indigenous Australians, Invasion or Survival Day is an annual reminder of the occupation of the country they had inhabited for tens of thousands of years and recalls the damage to their relationship with the land, culture, traditions and beliefs that followed. However, many Indigenous people are active within Australia Day committees today. Australia Day is an important annual opportunity to recognise the honoured place of Indigenous Australians in our nation’s history, and to promote understanding, respect and reconciliation.

The date remains January 26 and the discussion continues.

Australia Day today is a community day. With formal ceremonies around the country – flag raisings, citizenship ceremonies and the presentation of community awards – combined with local events and fun activities, the day belongs to the people.

Celebrations now include a strong festive aspect with special events encouraging the participation of the entire family and all members of the community. Australia Day committees involve their ethnic and Indigenous communities, service clubs, sporting and cultural organisations while local government is increasingly supportive. Nationally, Australia Day celebrations are growing each year. Recent polls show that an overwhelming proportion of Australians now view the celebration of our National Day as a significant and important event and actively participate in some way – at organised celebrations or with friends and family.

While the historical significance of January 26 remains, there is a greater awareness of the wish to celebrate modern Australia. It is a land of many people, but one nation. It is a young, fresh and vibrant country in one of the oldest lands on earth, with one of the oldest cultures. It is a land of extremes but also a land of harmony and of the spirit of the fair go. Australia is one of the few countries in the world to celebrate 150 years of continuous democratic government.


10 January

HP85 – Masada


MasadaThis is a request from my Father who recently visited Israel.

Masada, an ancient mountaintop fortress in southeast Israel, is the site of the Jews’ last stand against the Romans after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Masada occupies the entire top of a great mesa near the southwest coast of the Dead Sea. The boat-shaped mountain towers 1,424 feet or 434 meters above the level of the Dead Sea. It has a summit area of about 18 acres. Some authorities hold that the site was settled at the time of the First Temple (circa 900 BC), but Masada is renowned for the palaces and fortifications of Herod the Great, king of Judadea under the Romans, who ruled from 37 to 34 BC, It is also known for its resistance to the Roman siege in AD 72 through 73.

Although first fortified by the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus who ruled from 103 to 76 BC, Herod was the chief builder of Masada. His constructions included two ornate palaces (one of them on three levels), heavy walls, and aqueducts, which brought water to cisterns holding nearly 200,000 gallons or 750,000 liters. After Herod’s death in 4 BC, Masada was captured by the Romans, but the Jewish Zealots, a sect that staunchly opposed domination by Rome, took it by surprise in AD 66.

Following the fall of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, the Masada garrison—the last remnant of Jewish rule in Palestine—refused to surrender and was besieged by the Roman legion X Fretensis. It took the Roman army almost 15,000, fighting a defending force of less than 1,000, including women and children, almost two years to subdue the fortress. The besiegers built a sloping ramp to attack the stronghold, which fell only after the Romans fired the defenders’ wooden walls. The Zealots, however, preferred death to enslavements, and the conquers found that the defenders, led by Eleazar ben Jair, had taken their own lives (April 15, AD 73). Only seven women and children—who had hidden in a water conduit—survived to tell the tale. Masada was briefly reoccupied by the Jews in the 2nd century AD and was the site of a Byzantine church on the 5th-6th century. Thereafter, it was abandoned until the 20th century, except for a brief interval during the Crusades; the Arabs called the mountain as-Sabaa (The Accursed).

A general survey of the ruins was made by Israeli archeologists in 1955-56, and the entire mountaintop was excavated by Yigael Yadin in 1963-65, assisted by thousands of volunteers from around the world. The descriptions of the Roman-Jewish historian Joesphus, until then the only detailed source of Masada’s history, were found to be extremely accurate; the palaces, storehouses, defense works and Roman camps and siege works were all revealed and cleared. A synagogue and ritual bath discovered there are the earliest yet found in Palestine. Among the most interesting discoveries is fragments of broken pottery inscribed with Hebrew personal names. These may be lots cast by the last defenders to determine who should die first.

In the 20th century Masada has become a symbol of Jewish national heroism, and the difficult ascent is regularly performed by Israeli youth groups. It is now one of Israel’s most popular tourist attractions. Arkia, Israel’s domestic airline, provides regular service to a small airfield on the adjacent Dead Sea plain.

Thanks for listening to another episode of History Podcast. If you enjoyed the show please take the time to fill out the survey at Also, if you shop please remember to start your shopping at the our site. Any purchases made will help support the podcast.

28 December

HP84 – Olympics Cancelled


This episodes will be a quick one. I just wanted to put something out to let you all know I’m still around and have just been busy with the holidays.

So today I wanted to talk about a story that relates back to episode 49, the Olympics. This story is taken from Rick Beyer’s The Greatest Stories Never Told. A book published by the history channel.

That is all for the history this episode. It was just something to wet your appetaie for the history we will be getting into next year.

The survey on the website has had 97 listeners take it. Thank you all very much. I am really enjoying looking over your comments. If you have not taken the survey yet please do. We are half way to our goal of 200 responses. I will share the results of the survey with all of you when we have reached our goal.

Thank you all for shopping amazon through our links on the website. By taking just one extra step in your purchases this last quarter you have help pay the hosting fees of this podcast for four months!

Lastly lets talk about Frapper. It has changed significantly in the past few months. I can no longer see who signed up when. It is still fun to go put your pin in the virtual map, over at frapper, but I will not be able to give you a shout out on the show for signing up anymore. Instead please call the history hotline and I will play your shout out on the air. Or send an email letting me know that you would like it read on the air.

That’s all for this episode. Happy Holidays to you all. Thank you for a great 2006 and I look forward to speaking with you in 2007.

11 December

HP82 – Louisana History


Welcome to history podcast episode 82. Today we have a listener submitted episode. Stay tuned after this episode for the frapper mappers and some more news about the website….

Sorry, no transcript for this guest episode.

A big thank you to Gene for submitting her episode. Gene has also submitted a couple other episodes and we can look forward to those in the near future.

Frapper Mappers:

  1. Jessyka from Boise, ID says, “HISTORY ROCKS! I’m glad I found a podcast that teaches me more about it before I start college. Thanks!”
  2. Micheal Saddler from Singapore says “Listening all the way from Singapore. Great show! Keep them coming.”
  3. Kurt Noorg from Syndey, Australia says, “Hey History Buffs. Great show to walk with learn while exercising a perfect world.”
  4. Tim Anderson from Tasmania, Australia
  5. CW Hardenburg-Perry from Coca Florida says, “I love Florida!”

Thank you all for listening to this episode of History Podcast. Please take the survey at the website and let me know a little about yourself. It won’t take long. We currently have 39 responses. When we have 200 I will stop mentioning the survey and will post the results on the website, so please take the time and participate in the survey.

Big news on the website. As of the recording of this podcast there are 54 people signed up for the listener fourms at the old site. And only 2 besides myself at the new site, Chris and Athena. So please us the new forums. I will continue to monitor the old forums but, you will get your questions and comments answered faster on the new forums. In addition to the new forums, I have recently launched a Wiki for the listeners. On this site you can add and edit webpages. I have almost all of the episodes posted to the wiki. This is a tool for all the listeners to use and I am very excited to see how you will all utilize it. Please visit the website today and see the new additions. Recommendations on new features for the website are greatly encouraged. You can send them to me via email or post them on the forums. Thank you all for listening, supporting and participating in this podcast.

As the holiday season approaches us many of you web savvy listeners may be purchasing from, if you do please us the links from our site to get to The podcast will earn a small percentage of your purchase at no additional cost to you.

Thank you!!!

07 December

HP83 – Influence of Haitian Revolution on Louisiana Culture


This is another guest podcast from Gene G. so now transcript this time.