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American History Programs

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Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 6:45 PM

Some of the most dramatic and decisive events of the War of 1812 took place close to home. Local historian and author Anthony S. Pitch looks at Washington when the White House and Capitol were in flames, and Fort McHenry as it withstood the British bombardment that inspired Francis Scott Key’s poetic tribute to the Star-Spangled Banner.

Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 8:30 AM

Military historian Gregg Clemmer investigates six river crossings by Union and Confederate forces. Follow the path of one as you cross the Potomac at White’s Ford in the highlight of the day.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Spend a morning getting a rare behind-the-scenes look at the Supreme Court—including the courtroom where cases are argued. Then, a panel of top legal experts previews the issues that will come before the court when the new session begins in October.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Smithsonian Associates Members Only: Spend the afternoon with a panel of top legal experts who will preview the issues that will come before the Supreme Court when the new session begins in October.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 6:45 PM

In a lively, interactive Smithsonian Debate in which the audience plays a key role, specialists in early American history examine which seminal document more strongly shaped America’s history—and wields a more powerful influence on today’s national life.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 10:15 AM

The Atomic Spies, Cambridge Five, and Red Wasp Network seized on periods of international political unrest to unleash their espionage operations. Experts and former intelligence officers share the inside story of these spy rings, including never-before-seen documents, rare images, and little-known details. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 8:15 AM

Ride the rails with historian Joe Nevin and the steam engine Mountain Thunder on a round-trip excursion on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. After the breathtaking trip between Frostburg and Cumberland, tour the Western Maryland Station, C&O Canal terminus, and the South Cumberland rail yards.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 6:45 PM

Warren Perry, a former writer at the National Portrait Gallery, recounts the story of the bloody encounter in which nearly 50,000 men fought for control of the “breadbasket of the Confederacy.” He also discusses several objects in Smithsonian collections with connections to the battle.

Friday, September 19, 2014 at 8:00 AM

On Sept. 17, 1862, more than 23,000 soldiers met death in the Maryland farmland of Antietam. Civil War historians Ed Bearss and Gregg Clemmer lead a tour to sites connected with this bloodiest battle of the war.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 6:45 PM

Thomas Jefferson, an inveterate correspondent, left behind roughly 18,000 letters. J. Jefferson Looney, who served as editor (and sometimes, detective) on an edition of the documents of his final years, reveals the insights into Jefferson’s brilliant mind that these materials offer.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 8:00 AM

In a daylong celebration of this historic port, transportation expert Scott Hercik takes you aboard vessels including a WWII-era troop ship and the world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship as you explore Baltimore’s rich maritime heritage.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Historian Ken Hughes, a research specialist on the White House tapes, unravels how the Watergate cover-up connects to wider revelations of secrets and lies in the Nixon administration.

Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 6:45 PM

Author Karen Abbott reveals how charm, disguise, daring, and a steady trigger finger propelled a quartet of remarkable women through dangerous intrigues.

Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Historians Ed Bearss and Gregg Clemmer bring to dramatic life the story of one of the Civil War’s most daring and controversial military actions—the attempted raid on Richmond by the fiery young Union Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick and Col. Ulric Dahlgren.

Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 10:00 AM

The ironclad USS Monitor changed the course of the Civil War—and naval combat forever. Historians and scientists, part of an ongoing conservation and research project at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, examine the historic warship’s significance from a variety of perspectives.

Monday, October 27, 2014 at 6:45 PM

Nobody—except maybe zombies—thinks of Halloween as a romantic holiday. Daniel Gifford, a holiday scholar, illustrates how a century ago buxom witches and swooning cupids were part of the day’s iconography—and reflected the changing social climate in America.

Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Civil War historians Ed Bearss and Gregg Clemmer lead an overnight tour that follows a trail from Petersburg National Battlefield—site of a 10-month campaign during which 70,000 were killed or wounded—to Appomattox Court House, where Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

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