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After the chaos of the American Civil War, Congress and lawmakers had to figure out how to put the Union back together again–no easy feat, considering that issues of political debate were settled on the battlefield, but not in the courtroom nor in the arena of public opinion. How did the defeated South and often vindictive North manage to resolve their differences over issues so controversial that they had torn the...
A great source of content for teachers.At the time of its inception, the United States was the only functioning democracy in the world. However, this does not mean the founders created the American ideal of freedom ex nihilo. As Dr. Fears argues, they drew on the Old Testament, Greece, Rome, Christianity, and the English tradition of liberty to create a political order of democracy, divided power, and individual...
A great source of content for teachers.Only five men signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Why? Dr. Fears argues that the American Revolution was fought for limited government and low taxes, but the Constitution is a charter for a strong national government with broad power to tax. Despite the anxieties of men like Patrick Henry, the Constitution has aided the cause of liberty through...
A great source of content informaiton for teachers.The Revolutionary War delivered the colonists from English rule, but it did not result in effective governance. Financial crisis, disunity, and a dysfunctional system of confederation threatened to undo the achievements of independence. But this crisis called forth, in the Constitutional Convention, a group of statesmen who were willing to compromise to save the...
A great source of content for teachers.The story of freedom in the United States cannot be told without the Declaration of Independence. Dr. Fears explains what the stirring first paragraph of the Declaration meant to Americans in 1776 and what we’ve lost since then. But freedom is not only freedom from British rule. It must also be freedom to participate in the political system and to choose one’s own way of life....
Great resource for teacher knowlege and content.From the Louisiana Purchase onward, American settlers extended into the frontier what Jefferson called “the Empire of Liberty.” In this lecture, Dr. Fears tells the story of the Texan war of independence from Mexico. A recurring theme in this series is the necessity of courage and sacrifice in defense of freedom. Dr. Fears reiterates the importance of courage and honor...
This 93-video home movie collection spanning from 1968-76 comes from the family of Dr. Thomas F. Freeman and documents his career as a professor and debate coach at prestigious Houston universities, his home life, and his service as a minister at Houston’s Mt. Horem Baptist Church.
This episode looks at US perceptions of Mexico through map making during the US / Mexico War. This talk will discuss in detail a number of maps that were published in the US, mostly New York between 1846 and 1850. Some of them were reissued annually to reflect ongoing progress in the Mexican-American war, but historians and military analysts alike have ignored them until recently. Guest Chloe Ireton looks at how...
Mildred Didrikson Zaharias, nicknamed "Babe" for her childhood prowess on the baseball diamond, dominated women's sports from the 1930s through the '50s. She was born in 1911 in Port Arthur, Texas, and quickly became known as not just a gifted athlete, but a fierce competitor in every arena she entered. Though best remembered for her accomplishments in golf and track and field, she also excelled in...
Born in Galveston in 1894, King Wallis Vidor grew up with the movies. Over the course of his career, he directed both silent and sound films and worked with many of Hollywood's top stars, from Charlie Chaplin to Audrey Hepburn. Vidor began his career in film as a teenager, working as a projectionist in a Galveston theater. His first hit came in 1925, with The Big Parade, the highest grossing silent film of all...
William Barret Travis was only twenty-six years old when he died defending the Alamo. He came from Alabama just five years before, in 1831, leaving behind a failed career and marriage. Texas, a land he came to love, gave Travis a new life—and an early death. Travis clashed with authorities in Anahuac shortly after arriving in Texas, feuding over Mexico's antislavery laws. He spent two months in prison and...
When Belle Starr was shot to death in 1889, a newspaper declared her to be "a most desperate woman." Her killer was never identified. Many suspected her son, whom Belle had recently beaten for mistreating her horse. Her unsolved murder was a fitting end to a life that was a whirlwind of violence, crime, and legend. She was born Myra Maybelle Shirley in 1848, and at the age of sixteen moved to the North...
Texas revolutionary Juan Seguín was a politician, a soldier, a businessman, even a suspected traitor. Yet he was also a hero and an honored veteran. The contradictions of Seguín's life illustrate how complicated loyalty was during the struggle for Texas independence—especially for Tejano citizens of the Republic. Seguín was born in San Antonio in 1806. As a young man, he formed a...
According to one of his fans, actor and Texas native Zachary Scott had an air of sophistication that made him look like he had "been born in a dinner jacket." Best known for portraying scoundrels, playboys, and villains, Scott was one of Texas's most recognizable faces during Hollywood's golden age. Born in Austin in 1914, Scott studied acting at The University of Texas. He worked in regional...
In 1925, an anonymous novel called The Wind spotlighted the West Texas town of Sweetwater. The Wind told the tragic tale of Letty Mason, a Virginian who moves to Sweetwater during the drought-stricken 1880s. By book’s end, Letty has committed murder and suicide—driven in part by the relentless West Texas wind. Reviewers praised the book for depicting the West with "cold truth." However, many...
The German army considered Pointe du Hoc a perfect spot for defending the coast of France from Allied forces during World War II. From atop its hundred-foot cliffs, German guns could reach both Omaha Beach and Utah Beach. The Germans thought their position was secure. And it was—until June 1944, when Texan James Earl Rudder and his Second Ranger Battalion began to climb those cliffs. Rudder graduated from...
The series of pastels titled Twenty-four Hours with the Herd depicts an iconic Texas scene: the cattle drive. Artist Frank Reaugh completed the series in the 1930s, but they portray an earlier chapter of Texas history, when fences had not yet crossed the landscape, and men and cattle moved freely on the open range. Born in Illinois in 1860, Reaugh moved to Texas when he was fifteen. His family grew cotton, but young...
The Gutenberg Bible, completed in 1454, is the first substantial book printed with movable type. Of the twenty-one complete copies in existence, one is on view at The University of Texas at Austin's Harry Ransom Center. This book—and the center that houses it—are the proud legacy of Chancellor Harry Huntt Ransom, known as "The Great Acquisitor." Born in Galveston in 1908, Ransom came to UT...
William Sydney Porter—better known by his pen name, O. Henry—was born in North Carolina and died in New York. But his sixteen years in Texas, from 1882 to 1898, made a lasting mark on his life and work. In Texas, Porter developed an abiding love for the American West. He worked as a ranch hand, a pharmacist, a draftsman; edited his own newspaper; and met his wife. It was also in Texas where Porter was...
Critics call Texas-born writer Katherine Anne Porter a "poet of the story." Her carefully crafted short fiction earned her the highest acclaim, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Porter was born in 1890 in Indian Creek to a family of modest means. As an adult, she lived for several years in Mexico, and later at points throughout the U.S. and Europe. But her most accomplished stories...
Born about 1845, Comanche leader Quanah Parker lived two vastly different lives: the first as a warrior among the Plains Indians of Texas, and the second as a pragmatic leader who sought a place for his people in a rapidly changing America. Parker's birth was a direct result of the conflict between Native Americans and white settlers. His mother, Cynthia Parker, was captured by the Comanche as a child and later...
Connecticut-born Frederick Law Olmsted is best known for his design of New York's Central Park. But his writings on the slaveholding South, including Texas, enjoyed critical acclaim in the 1850s for their detailed descriptions and keen social commentary. The New York Times sent Olmsted to the South to record his observations. On his second trip, he and his brother John arrived in Texas on Christmas Day, 1853....
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 left the U.S. Navy stunned. With American ships still smoldering in the water, Navy Secretary Frank Knox turned to a Texan, Chester Nimitz, to restore confidence in the Pacific Fleet. Nimitz was born in Fredericksburg in 1885. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1905 and then served in several command and staff positions, including the new Atlantic submarine fleet...
In the south foyer of the Texas State Capitol stand two life-sized statues: one of Sam Houston, the other of Stephen F. Austin. These men helped shape the state of Texas, but their marble likenesses were shaped by the hands of Elisabet Ney. Ney was born in Prussia in 1833, when ladies were expected merely to dabble in art, certainly not study it as a career. But Ney became the first woman admitted to Munich's...
Tejano leader José Antonio Navarro lived under five of the six flags of Texas.Born in 1795 to a prominent family in San Antonio, Navarro grew up along with his city. In the 1820s, he championed Stephen F. Austin's colonization efforts. At the time, both Anglo American immigrants and Tejano residents wanted increased settlement in Texas for economic development and frontier defense. When trouble arose...
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