American Revolution: The Incompetence of King George III I

Lead: In the 1700s the United States broke from England. No colony in history had done that before. This series examines America’s Revolution.Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: He was the first monarch of his kin to be born in England – Norfolk House, London in 1738 – and the first Hanoverian monarch to speak English. The prince who would become King George III was raised in obscurity by parents who clearly doted on his brother Edward. When he managed to get a word in edge-wise during family conversations he was too often admonished, “Do hold your tongue, George: don’t talk like a fool.” Therefore, the young man who would grow up to command and lose an empire developed into a quiet, shy, modest introvert who loved the British Constitution but only too slowly grew effectively to learn his role as a sovereign in a time of growing crisis.

The Brookes of Brunei

Lead: By a combination of daring and benevolent despotism, the Brooke family helped bring the Sultanate of Brunei into the modern era.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The tiny but independent state of Brunei lies surrounded by Malaysia on the northern coast of the ancient island of Borneo in the southwest Pacific. As early as the sixth century the area traded with and paid tribute to China. Until the influx of evangelical Islam in the 1400s, the majority of people were Hindu worshippers. European contact with the region began with arrival of the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan but intensified with the coming of Portuguese and Dutch traders. The presence of Western traders tended to reduce the influence of the local government dominated by the native Sultanate and by 1800 Brunei, which had been much larger, had shrunk to only a small section of northern Borneo.

Nebraska and the Homestead Act

Lead: Born of the slavery controversy, the State of Nebraska enjoyed explosive growth after the Civil War in large part due to a policy made in Washington.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1854 the Congress of the United States, in response to those desiring a railroad to the Pacific Coast, an expansion in the number of states, both slave and free, and a solution to the growing number of emigrants wishing to settle in lands west of the Mississippi, passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The legislation enshrined the concept of "squatter sovereignty," and created two new territories which could choose whether they would be slave or free states. Nebraska would enter the Union in 1867 but first it had to grow a bit. The two factors that contributed to its expansion were the construction of the railroads and an Act passed by Congress during the Civil War.

Cyrus McCormick: Inventor and Salesman

Lead: Denied a renewal on his patent for a mechanical reaper in 1848, Cyrus McCormick transformed himself into a marketing genius and blew the competition away.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the early 1800s the harvesting of grain had not caught up with other agricultural improvements. You could grow grain in great abundance, particularly in the rich soils of the newly settled mid-west, but getting it out of the ground was a problem. Harvesting wheat was labor intensive. If you could find workers, slave or free, they were very expensive in proportion to the revenue generated by the crop. The first commercially practical reaper for the harvesting of wheat was invented in Rockbridge County, Virginia in 1831 by Cyrus Hall McCormick, the studious and clever son of a blacksmith. It consisted of a vibrating cutting blade, a reel to bring the stalks within reach and a platform to receive the falling grain. This basic design has changed but little in the years since. McCormick took out a patent in 1834 but lost interest until hard times forced him in the late 1830s to consider exploiting his invention. He sold several but discovered that during his absence others had entered the market most especially Obed Hussey whose design was different and whose reaper was popular in Pennsylvania and New York.

George Westinghouse II

Lead: Aware of repeated and often deadly railroad accidents, George Westinghouse developed the air brake.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: At first Westinghouse tried to harness the steam generated by the locomotive, but found that by the time steam reached the rear of the train it had begun to condensing thus losing its power to force the brakes. His solution came while reading a magazine article describing the construction of the huge railroad tunnel through Mont Cenis in the Italian Alps. Instead of generating steam deep in the mountain for drilling which would eat up precious oxygen, engineers compressed air on the outside and pumped it to the tunnel face. Westinghouse applied the same principle to stopping trains, some of which were dozens of cars in length.


George Westinghouse I

Lead: On a dark February night in 1871, the chief engineer of the New York Central's crack Pacific Express, Doc Simmons, peered beyond a rounded bend south of Poughkeepsie, New York and saw disaster coming and could do absolutely nothing about it.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Everything was executed precisely. Simmons blew the emergency whistle. Trainmen between each of the passenger cars went to their stations. The icy handles began to turn. The brakes began to bite. Too little. Too late. A wrecked freight train lay tumbled across the small drawbridge just ahead. The Pacific Express, its useless brakes complaining loudly, drove through the oil-filled tank cars and pitched into Wappinger Creek. The tanks ignited. Thirty people died including Doc Simmons. Pity. Had the New York Central not been so cheap, Simmons would surely have been able to save lives that night. Already available was a device so effective that it was to revolutionize the railroad industry. In the public outcry following the Wappinger Creek disaster, New York Central and most other major lines began to equip their passenger stock with an invention by a little-known engineer. It was the air brake. His name was George Westinghouse.

American Revolution: Roots of American Exceptionalism II

Lead: In the 1700s the United States broke from England. No colony in history had done that before. This series examines America’s Revolution.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: The phenomenon of American exceptionalism, the idea that the British Colonies of North America and the United States that emerged from the Revolution, was a special place, derived from Americans' sense that despite the obvious cruelty of Native American near genocide and chattel slavery, they had carved a kingdom of liberty out of a wilderness. Yet, perhaps more important in the idea of exceptionalism was the conviction that Americans were on a divine mission, that they had been placed on the continent by the hand of Providence.

American Revolution: Roots of American Exceptionalism I

Lead: In the 1700s the United States broke from England. No colony in history had done that before. This series examines America’s Revolution.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Since the 1700s, particularly during the revolutionary era, visitors to the British colonies of North America and later to the United States have remarked upon the high level of confidence expressed by the inhabitants in their unique accomplishments and their anticipated rich and prosperous future. Over the decades this has been often been described as a sense of American exceptionalism, the idea that America was a special place with an exceptional destiny. Some observers admire this quality. Others are offended by its seemingly arrogance. Yet, those who notice this phenomenon often express curiosity about the roots of such distinctive audacity.