Gentle Readers, I have news of a personal and historical nature. As you may recall, back in the spring I was flaired as an expert on Reddit’s AskHistorians. They host a podcast, the Ask Historians Podcast, run by one of the resident Mesoamericanists. Every two weeks, he interviews one of the flairs about the historical subject of our choice. It’s one of my favorite podcasts and I heartily suggest giving it a try. The podcast is on iTunes, libsyn, and I believe several other services.
A few weeks back, I was asked to participate. My favorite history podcast asked me to talk about history, one of my favorite things to do. I spent more time considering how to respond without sounding like the creepiest kind of fan than I did on whether or not to record an episode. Our discussion went well over the expected time, which you could probably all guess would happen. It’s split in two episodes, the first of which is live now. If you ever wanted to know what I sound like, or just to hear more about the Kansas-Nebraska Act, here’s your chance.
As you can probably tell, I had a tremendous time doing it. The credit for that has got to go to the fine host, 400-Rabbits. The credit for the errors that crept in during the course of speaking while excited goes to me. I’ve posted errata on Reddit. AskHistorians has a zero tolerance policy for the behavior that makes Reddit infamous, but if you’d rather avoid it anyway I understand completely. Here are the corrections and two minor additions.
- I referred to Enabling Acts and Organic Acts as terms used inconsistently. I recall seeing primary sources do that, but the Congress was more careful. An organic act organizes a territory, hence the name. The Kansas-Nebraska Act is the organic act for Kansas and Nebraska. An enabling act is a later law passed by Congress to authorize a territorial government to write a constitution preparatory to statehood. While speaking I confused the two as I was focused on the Wisconsin Enabling Act, which reiterated the Northwest Ordinance’s slavery ban.
- I mistakenly referred to the Washington Territory as including modern Idaho. It’s just the top half of that. The bottom half is Oregon Territory.
- The proposed amendment to emancipate Missouri would have kept those born after its enactment slaves until they turned twenty-five, not twenty-one.
- I said that the sessions of Congress ran out in May. It’s actually the start of March. Slip of the tongue. I was probably thinking ahead to the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act at the end of May, 1854.
- The senators of the F Street Mess are David Rice Atchison, A.P. Butler (SC), R.M.T. Hunter (VA), and James M. Mason (VA, wrote the fugitive slave act of 1850). Their names were in my outline, but I couldn’t find them in the moment.
- I also blanked on the names of the two of the women who feature into the narrative, which is unfortunate. Archibald Dixon’s wife and memoirist is Susan Bullitt. Stephen Douglas’ southern wife (his first, she died in 1853 and he remarried) is Martha Martin.