Three Days That Shocked America

Login to Watch  

Duration 01:08:05

College of the Holy Cross

Edward O’Donnell is a professor of history at College of the Holy Cross. He is the author of several books, including Henry George and the Crisis of Inequality: Progress and Poverty in the Gilded Age. He frequently contributes op-eds to publications like Newsweek and The Huffington Post, and has been featured on PBS, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and C-SPAN. O’Donnell also has curated several major museum exhibits on American history and appeared in several historical documentaries. He currently hosts a history podcast, “In the Past Lane.”




In this presentation, we will examine three major historical events, starting with Shays’ Rebellion in 1786-87: a tax revolt by Massachusetts farmers that led to the Constitutional Convention. Then we’ll jump ahead to 1876 and the annihilation of General George A. Custer and his Seventh Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn: an event that helped justify a harsher policy towards Native Americans and contributed to the mythology of the American West. Finally, we’ll explore the impact of the Soviet Union’s detonation of their first atomic bomb in 1949: an event that took America by surprise and prompted a radical shift in US Cold War policy.

American history has been punctuated by many jarring moments that grabbed the nation’s attention and triggered emotions of fear and outrage, as well as sympathy and compassion. The significance of these events—ranging from assassinations, murders, and riots, to hoaxes, scandals, and trials—goes far beyond the details of what transpired. They often provide us with a window into the key issues and dynamics of society at that time.




2 reviews
5 stars
100 %
4 stars
0 %
3 stars
0 %
2 stars
0 %
1 star
0 %
kevin fox

As always I enjoyed another one of this speaker’s talks for his style and choice of material , honing in on the most salient points without extraneous details that some speakers “dilute the topic” with

1 year ago
Jon Passig

A pleasure to hear Mr. O'Donnel speak again

A fun variety of microcosms in American history. Oddly enough an overarching theme starts to develop that places them better into historical context when he responds to the Q/A in relation to the idea that historical turning points can be more subjective, and whether the cause or when definitive action occurs is more of a concrete historical action.
I appreciate this speaker’s tactfulness as to not oversimplify or dilute history by directly relating one event as a replica of another, but to understand the rhythms in which they occur.

12 months ago
Scroll to Top