18th Century

The Jacobite Rising of 1745

Portrayals of this piece of Scottish and English history are often simultaneously romanticized and oversimplified. It's a great deal more complicated than any one event, and is instead the result of many contributing factors.

Tarrare, a Case of Polyphagia

Insatiable hunger completely dominated every aspect of this French man's existence in the 18th century. His life took a series of twists and turns, but his condition was never truly diagnosed or cured.

Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun

No starving artist, Vigée Le Brun was the first woman to ever become a court painter in France when she was commissioned to paint Marie Antoinette. She painted royalty and nobility throughout Europe, even as her personal life had its ups and downs.

Hercules Mulligan, Spy on the Inside Pt. 2

After years of protesting and resisting British rule in New York, Mulligan passed important information on to George Washington, possibly saving his life. How did that one-time act of happenstance blossomed into a career as a full-time spy?

Hercules Mulligan, Spy on the Inside Pt. 1

Hercules Mulligan was indeed a real person who passed intelligence to George Washington, mostly through two means - one was an enslaved man named Cato, and the other was the Culper Spy Ring.

The Shared Sign Language of Martha's Vineyard

By the early 18th century, it was not uncommon for people in Martha's Vineyard to be deaf from birth. This had a profound effect on the culture of Martha's Vineyard - and one that went on to influence Deaf culture in the United States as a whole.

The Tupac Amaru Rebellion

The Tupac Amaru rebellion was a conflict between Spain and its colonies in South America which took place from 1780 to 1783.

The Whiskey Rebellion

Resistance to excise taxes levied against U.S. whiskey distilleries in the 1790s led to violence and rebellion. Tensions finally came to a head on Christmas day in 1794. Read the show notes here.

St. Clair's Defeat, or the Battle of a Thousand Slain

In 1791, a confederation of Native American tribes destroyed about half of the American army. The catalyst for that conflict was a lengthy period in which unfair treaties, biased against native peoples, were all too common.

The Black Hole of Calcutta

In 1756, after a skirmish between the British East India Company and the nawab of Bengal, dozens of captives were put into a holding cell intended for only a few people overnight. Most of them didn't make it out alive.