Episode 1 | Virginia: America's First Startup
We begin our series in 1619 Jamestown, Va., where British settlers persevered through disease, infighting, famine and sweltering heat to not only survive but to establish a governing body and founding principles that are directly reflected in today’s legislatures. If you think this also sounds like America’s first soap opera, you would be right.
- G. Paul Nardo, former clerk of the house and keeper of the roles of the commonwealth of Virginia | Bio
- Mary Elliott, curator of American Slavery at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture | Bio
- Jim Horn, president of the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation | Bio
Special Bonus Interview
Listen to the full interview with Mary Elliott, curator of American Slavery at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Episode 2 | The Story of Legislatures Through the Revolution
In today’s political discussions, taxes are often at the forefront and quite contentious. But has it always been this way? The answer is yes and thank goodness or we might still be governed by the British!
In Episode 2 of this special NCSL podcast series, we explore how the slogan turned battle cry, "No taxation without representation," came to be. Hint: It started with the British imposing steep taxes to recoup the cost of defending the North American colonies during the Seven Years' War (1754-1763). Hint #2: The Stamps Act had nothing to do with the post office but everything to do with lighting the fire of rebellion.
Join expert guests, including legal counsel with the South Carolina House Clerk’s office, Richard Pearce; Professor Peverill Squire; and Professor Alexander Keyssar for an inside look at representative democracy amid the American Revolution.
Special Bonus Interview
Listen to the full interview with Richard L. Pearce, legal counsel with the South Carolina House Clerk
Episode 3 | Westward Expansion
In this installment of NCSL’s six-episode podcast series, “Building Democracy: The Story of Legislatures,” we explore how the states and their legislatures expanded west, split apart, and came together again.
The era of American history between 1803-1877 was one of massive territorial growth, conflict, and social and economic change. The U.S. evolved from a small grouping of former colonies and newly formed states on the East Coast to exponentially expanding territories across the South, Midwest and the wilderness of the West. Legislatures were the main venue for shaping these territories into states of diverse populations and environments. After the Civil War, state legislatures became the main setting for enforcing reconstruction policies and resistance to them. The struggle to integrate a huge population of formerly enslaved people into the citizenry led to incredible victories for the expansion of civil rights, only to see them shrink again, continuing the push and pull we continue to experience as a nation today.
- Bob Davidson, former director, Mississippi Senate Legislative Services Office
- Mark Hirsch, historian, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian │Bio │Blog
- Burdett Loomis, professor emeritus, University of Kansas │Bio
- Kercheik Sims-Alvarado, assistant professor of Africana Studies, Morehouse College │Bio │Book
Special Guest Voice
- Representative Billy Mitchell, Georgia │Bio
Special Bonus Content
Listen to the full speech I Claim the Rights of Man given in 1868 by Henry MacNeal Turner. Read by Georgia State Representative Billy Mitchell.
Episode 4 | Women's Suffrage in Western States and Territories
In this installment of NCSL’s six-episode podcast series, “Building Democracy: The Story of Legislatures,” we travel west to see how women fought and won their right to vote, as well as how they shaped state legislatures and life on the frontier well before the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
The story of the 19th Amendment and its dramatic ninth-hour ratification on the floor of the Tennessee House is well known and often told. Yet, momentous events in the history of women in the American West are overlooked. While their sisters fought in the salons, houses of worship and halls of government in the urban “civilized” East, women strode ahead helping to form governments in the rough and yet malleable West. Women in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado (to name only a few) fought against stereotypes and social expectations to win the recognition of their rights as American citizens. Each state’s suffrage movement had unique motivations and avenues to success. One common thread to their strategies? State legislatures.
- Senator Affie Ellis, Wyoming│ Bio
- Representative Meg Froelich, Colorado │ Bio
- Rebekah Clark, historical research associate, Better Days 2020│ Bio
Special Bonus Interview
Many states have their own tales of political maneuvering and determined women. Check out our bonus interview to hear more details and what happened in states we weren’t able to cover.
- Lori Ann Lahlum, professor, Minnesota State University, Mankato
- Molly P. Rozum, Ron Nelson distinguished professor, University of South Dakota
Episode 5 | The Modern Legislature
This episode will be available in Fall 2020.
Episode 6 | The Future of State Legislatures
This episode will be available in Winter 2020.