Introduction: The Soul of America (02:26)
Forces currently shaping the worst parts of us are part of the American character Jon Meacham believes history provides possible lessons to address crises. (Credits)
Politics as Entertainment (03:48)
Meacham cites moments in American history that provide a sense of proportion about current questions. Sexism, xenophobia, racism, and nativism are "perennial American forces."
America's Soul (03:00)
Race, fear, anxiety, and violence are interwoven aspects of American history. The country's essence is not all good or all bad. In August 2017, White Nationalists march in Charlottesville, VA. Meacham reflects on the history of hate.
America's Story (02:38)
Meacham discusses the Jeffersonian idea that everybody gets a chance. In January 2017, Donald Trump is sworn in as president; protestors march in the streets. Meacham cites votes for women as an example of the country's ability to change
Women's Suffrage (08:04)
The women's movement begins in the Antebellum Period. Alice Paul exemplifies the "New Woman." She begins a direct campaign for voting rights but does not allow women of color to march. Picketers are arrested and sent to Occoquan Workhouse. Suffrage passes in 1919.
Meacham's Youth and Career (06:36)
Meacham grows up on Missionary Ridge. and enters journalism at age 18. He works at "The Washington Monthly" and becomes Managing Editor of "Newsweek." Meacham performs up to 100 speaking engagements a year. He cites two elements that explain the 2016 presidential election.
The 1930s are a time of significant anxiety about a changing world; isolationist and nativist tendencies lead to crises. Franklin Delano Roosevelt embodies the idea that America can recover; he fights against fascists and carefully addresses isolationism.
Japanese American Incarceration (10:53)
The 1930s and 1940s are a time of significant partisanship. Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor changes perspectives. Officials arrest members of the Japanese community. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066. Gen. John DeWitt labels Japanese Americans an enemy race and they are sent to internment camps.
Reason vs. Passion (03:18)
Ambition must counter ambition. Today, Americans react to things because of where they stand, making it difficult to reasonably sort out reports. The McCarthy era contains valuable lessons.
The conservative movement with ties to conspiracy theories begins after WWII. Joseph McCarthy claims Communists inundate the State Department and begins a campaign. Journalists weigh reporting what he says versus verification. Some of the greatest moments in American politics occur when people in power change their minds.
Civil Rights (09:49)
The period between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement exemplifies the struggle between our worst instincts and "better angels." Experts discuss segregation, discrimination, President Kennedy, and President Johnson who pursues civil rights legislation. The Civil Rights Act passes in 1964.
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