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Each week at In The Past Lane, the American history podcast, host and Historian-at-Large, Edward T. O’Donnell, brings you news, stories, interviews, and special features on all things U.S. history. His aim is to be both engaging and thought-provoking, inspired by the notion that history explains the world we live in and provides insights into how to achieve a more prosperous, peaceful, and just future. So come along with us as we journey In The Past Lane.  

Nov 30, 2019

This week at In The Past Lane, the American History podcast, I speak with Holly Jackson about her new book, American Radicals: How 19th Century Protest Shaped The Nation.”

Jackson is an associate professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She has written widely on US cultural history for scholarly journals, as well as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Boston Globe.

In the course of our discussion, Holly Jackson explains:

How American radicals – from abolitionists and free thinkers, to women’s rights advocates to socialists – reshaped American society in the 19th century.

How these radicals justified their critique of US society by invoking the Founders and calling upon Americans to live up to their high ideals of liberty, equality, and justice.

How some Americans resisted the emerging capitalist economy by forming cooperative societies based on socialist principles – places like Brook Farm and New Harmony.

Why some radicals attacked mainstream religion as an impediment to social progress, either for advocating superstitious ideas or upholding evil practices like slavery of women’s subjugation.

Why it’s important to acknowledge that the American past – just like the present – has been rocked by radicals demanding major social change.

Recommended reading

Holly Jackson, American Radicals: How 19th Century Protest Shaped The Nation (Crown, 2019)

Howard Brick and Christopher Phelps, Radicals in America: The U.S. Left since the Second World War

Michael Kazin, American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation

Timothy Patrick McCarthy, John Campbell McMillian, et al., The Radical Reader: A Documentary History of the American Radical Tradition

Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States

More info about Holly Jackson - website

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Music for This Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (

Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)

Andy Cohen, “Trophy Endorphins” (Free Music Archive)

Borrtex, “Perception” (Free Music Archive)

Jon Luc Hefferman, “Winter Trek” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)

Production Credits

Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer

Technical Advisors: Holly Hunt and Jesse Anderson

Podcasting Consultant: Dave Jackson of the School of Podcasting

Podcast Editing: Wildstyle Media

Photographer: John Buckingham

Graphic Designer: Maggie Cellucci

Website by: ERI Design

Legal services: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too 

Social Media management: The Pony Express

Risk Assessment: Little Big Horn Associates

Growth strategies: 54 40 or Fight

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© In The Past Lane, 2019