American History

Public Domain

The Salem witch trials haunt the American imagination as a time of extreme injustice. The story is most often told from the perspective of the accused and the accusers, but historian Richard Francis has spent years exploring the actions of Samuel Sewall. Sewall was among the judges who issued the harsh verdicts, but five years later, he became the only judge to issue an apology for his role in the trials. Richard Francis joins Doug to talk about Sewall, his idealism, and his conscience.

On the 4th of July, we're broadcasting our conversation with writer Nathaniel Philbrick about George Washington and Benedict Arnold. Arnold has long been regarded as the archetypal American traitor. But before he betrayed his country, he was actually one of Washington’s favorite and most trusted generals. In his book, Philbrick examines the complicated relationship between the two men. Ultimately, he says, it’s about their different reactions to a dysfunctional Congress that was driven by self-righteous opportunism. (Rebroadcast)