John Sutter/David Fenimore – A Visit With John Sutter

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John Sutter was an émigré from Switzerland who came to California to establish his New Helvicia in the land of opportunity, located in what is now close to Sacramento, California. A man with vision and organization, and a liking to drink, Sutter built an economically thriving Anglo-American settlement outpost in what was then Mexican California. The economy was based on livestock and lumber and used forced Native American labor. The discovery of gold in 1849 at a mill owned by Sutter started the gold rush that ultimately led to his undoing, ruining him financially as the mass of humanity tramped through the lands he then claimed to own, on their rush to the gold fields. John Sutter was portrayed by historian David Fennimore and was part of “Rediscovering California at 150” the California sesquicentennial initiative produced by the California Council for the Humanities.

John Sutter recommends “Ivanhoe,” by Sir Walter Scott and “Report Concerning North America,” by Godfried Duden.

Originally Broadcast: February 20, 1998

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Alexis de Tocqueville/Dick Johnson – A Visit With Alexis de Tocqueville

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Democracy in America

In 1831, a 25 year-old Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, trained as a lawyer, and preoccupied with democracy, came to the US to study this new political scheme. Alexis de Tocqueville and his traveling companion, Gustave de Beaumont, arrived at Newport, RI, in an America comprised, then, of 23 states and 13 million people. They stayed for nine months, and then returned to France at which time de Tocqueville began his epic poem entitled “Democracy in America.” At a time then when slavery was an economic base in the South, and abolitionism was beginning to thrive in the North, America had three frontiers: geography, industry, and democracy. In this program of Radio Curious, we’ll be talking with Alexis De Tocqueville, through the person of Chautauqua scholar, Dick Johnson.

Alexis de Tocqueville recommends “Democracy in America,” by Alexis de Tocqueville.

Originally Broadcast: July 17, 1996

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Maria Stewart – Sandra Kamusukiri – A Visit With a Free Black Woman – Boston 1840

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Maria W. Stewart, as characterized by professor and scholar Sandra Kamusakiri, was a free black woman who lived in Boston, MA, from the 1820s to the early 1840s. She was the first American born woman to lecture in public on political themes and likely the first African-American to speak out in defense of women’s rights. A forerunner to Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth, she was intensely religious and regarded as outspoken and controversial during her time. For more than a century, Maria W. Stewart’s life contributions remained obscured, illustrating the double pressures of racism and sexism on the lives African-American women. I met with Mariah W. Stewart in the person of Professor Sandra Kamusukiri during the 1996 Democracy in America Chautauqua, held in Ukiah, California.

Maria Stewart recommends “The Fair Sketches of Women,” by John Adams and “The Bible.”

Originally Broadcast: November 27, 1996

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Gilbert, Ronnie, as “Mother Jones” – ‘The Most Dangerous Woman in America’

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Mary Harris Jones, Mother Jones, was born in 1830. She lived a quiet, non-public life until she was approximately 47 years old and then, for almost the next fifty years, she was a fiery union organizer, strike leader, and fighter for safe and humane working conditions, the eight hour day, and child labor laws. Around the turn of the century, she was called the most dangerous woman in America. Her legacy has lived on in the form of a magazine that bears the name, Mother Jones; and in the form of a one-woman play about her life, produced, acted and written by singer and songwriter Ronnie Gilbert.

Mother Jones recommends any books by Leo Tolstoy. Ronnie Gilbert recommends “Hawaii,” by James Mechiner.

Originally Broadcast: March 12, 1997

 

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Eickhoff, Diane — The Revolutionary Heart and Life of Clarina Nichols

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The life of Clarina Nichols and her work in the early women’s rights movement in the United States has been greatly overlooked. As one of the country’s first female newspaper editors and stump speakers, Clarina Nichols spoke out for temperance, abolition and women’s rights at a time when doing so could get a woman killed. Unlike other activists, she personally experienced some of the cruelest sufferings that a married woman of her day could know. In her pursuit for justice she traveled westward facing all of the challenges of being a single mother and a women’s rights activist of her day with good humor and resourcefulness. Clarina Nichols is portrayed by Diane Eickhoff in this chautauquan style interview.  We began when I asked Clarina about her childhood.

The book Clarina Nichols recommends is “The Sexes Throughout Nature (Pioneers of the woman’s movement),” by Antoinette Louisa Brown Blackwell.

The book Diane Eickhoff recommends is “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 911” by Lawrence Wright.

This program was originally broadcast on January 13, 2007.

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Gross, Ron — Socrates in Athens, in Conversation

Socrates of Athens, who lived before the Common Era, is respected as one of the greatest independent thinkers of all time. Socrates himself refused to be recognized as a teacher. Instead, Plato, his well-known student and reporter of Socrates dialogues, tells us he asked to be seen as a “midwife of ideas.” Socrates passion to achieve self-understanding, and the proper ways to live, continues to be studied and emulated to this day.

Chataquan scholar Ron Gross portrays Socrates in this archived interview, recorded in January 2003. We began our conversation when I asked him to describe the process of self understanding.

The book Socrates recommends is “The Trojan Women,” by Euripides. Ron Gross recommends “The Clouds,” by Aristophanes. 

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Jenkins, Clay & Jefferson, Thomas –The Author of the Declaration of Independence

Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States of America, is respected by some as one of the leading political theorists of American history.  He conceptualized a government originating in the households of the individual citizens, and stemming from a questioning and rebellious public, requiring, he believed a primarily agrarian population.

Our guest in this archive edition of Radio Curious is Thomas Jefferson, personified by Chautauqua scholar Clay Jenkinson.  We met in Ukiah, California in May, 1994, and discussed what has changed in the United States since Mr. Jefferson took office as President in 1803, and the concepts he believed necessary to maintain a democracy. 

The book Mr. Jefferson recommends is  “The History of the Peloponnesian War,” by Thucydides, and the book Clay Jenkinson recommends is “In the Absence of the Sacred,”  by Jerry Mander.

This interview with Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, as personified by Chautauqua scholar, Clay Jenkinson, was recorded in the studios of Radio Curious on May 21, 1994.

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Magruder, Kate & Shirley, Dame — Women and the Gold Rush Part One

When word that California had gold in its creeks and streams reached the United States of America in 1848, fortune seekers from all over the world soon began to arrive by boat, covered wagon, and on foot. Some people made their fortunes by selling provisions or services and very few actually found enough gold to take home. Louise Smith Clapp of Amherst, Massachusetts, using the name of Dame Shirley, wrote detailed and vivid descriptions of the life and ways of the gold seekers and of mid 19th century California. In this two-part program, we will talk to Dame Shirley in the person of Kate Magruder, a Chautauqua performer and participant with the California Council for the Humanities Sesquicentennial Project, Rediscovering California at 150.

The book Dame Shirley recommends is “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.” Kate Magruder recommends “Days of Gold,” by Malcolm Rhorbough & “The Shirley Letters,” by Dame Shirley.

This interview was originally broadcast on March 16, 1999. 

Click here to listen to part one or on the media player below.  Click here to listen to part two.

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Dickinson, Emily & Norris, Wendy — Emily Dickinson: Hiding in Her Own House

History remembers poets of past eras as windows into the civilization of their time. A poet’s words reveal life and feelings we would otherwise never know. New England, in the mid-19th century, was the center of a renaissance of American poetry. Emily Dickinson, better known now than she was then, was known for her phrases which sang out in a multitude of forms, meters and styles. Her words presented her innermost feelings and thoughts. A passionate and witty woman, she made a craft and an art of her words and her life.

I met with Emily Dickinson in the person of actress Wendy Norris, in the parlor of the Dickinson family home, magically carried from Amherst, Massachusetts, to the stage of the Willits Community Theater, in Willits, California, where the belle of Amherst told her story. We began our conversation when I asked Emily Dickinson why she chose not to receive visitors in her home for so many years.

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Eickhoff, Diane — The Revolutionary Heart and Life of Clarina Nichols

The life of Clarina Nichols and her work in the early women’s rights movement in the United States has been greatly overlooked. As one of the country’s first female newspaper editors and stump speakers, Clarina Nichols spoke out for temperance, abolition and women’s rights at a time when doing so could get a woman killed. Unlike other activists, she personally experienced some of the cruelest sufferings that a married woman of her day could know. In her pursuit for justice she traveled westward facing all of the challenges of being a single mother and a women’s rights activist of her day with good humor and resourcefulness. Clarina Nichols is portrayed by Diane Eickhoff in this chautauquan style interview.  We began when I asked Clarina about her childhood.

The book Clarina Nichols recommends is “The Sexes Throughout Nature (Pioneers of the woman’s movement),” by Antoinette Louisa Brown Blackwell.

The book Diane Eickhoff recommends is “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 911” by Lawrence Wright.

This program was originally broadcast on January 13, 2007.

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