The Memory Palace

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Episode 82:
The Wheel

Feb 10, 2016

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Music, Footnotes & Ephemera

Released on February 10th, 2016.

The Memory Palace is a proud member of the Radiotopia Network.

* Julia Rovinsky plays Phillip Glass’ Metamorphosis I, from her album Dusk.
* There’s an excerpt from Paul Drescher’s “Casa Vecchia,” from the Mirrors: Other Fire album.
* There’s a chunk of Jose Gonzalez’ “Instrumental” from his Stay in the Shade EP.
* “Manny Returns Home” from Bernard Hermann’s score to The Wrong Man.
* Branka Parlic plays Philip Glass’ “Mad Rush.” Twice.
* “Quiet Fan for SK,” by P.G. Six.
* Things get heavy to “Particles of the Universe (Heartbeats)” from Dan Romer and Ben Zeitlin’s score to Beasts of the Southern Wild.

There’s a lot written about Robert Smalls, with a lot of contradictory information. I found Edward A. Miller’s Gullah Statesman: Robert Smalls from Slavery to Congress particularly useful to sorting it all out.
Some other sources I consulted while researching this piece:
* The Negro’s Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During the War for the Union by the Don, James McPherson
* From Slavery to Public Service: Robert Smalls, 1839-1915, by Okon Uya.
* And, for what it’s worth, Robert Smalls: The Boat Thief from RFK Jr.’s American Heroes Series is an enjoyable and surprisingly thorough version of the story for young readers, if you’re ever looking for that sort of thing.

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27 Comments | Leave a Comment

27 Comments on The Wheel

  1. Linda says:

    Nate, Nate, Nate. You always do it right. Man, you’re an awesome storyteller. You leave me feeling.

  2. Very well done, nicely researched. I’m working on a major biography of Smalls. This serves to remind me of the continuing power of his story.

  3. Gretchen says:

    This is exactly the kind of story that makes me glad I found you, Nate. You bring so much to my ordinary life. Thank you for doing what you do, and for doing it as beautifully as you do.

  4. Marty says:

    Wow! I loved this episode and, as usual, I had never heard of Robert Smalls before listening to it. And Daniel Blake Smith, not only am I excited to hear that you are writing a biography of Robert Smalls, I really hope that your work will someday lead to a film about Mr. Smalls. Frankly, both the book and film are long overdue.

  5. Thank you, Marty. And, yes, I agree that it’s really puzzling why Smalls’ story is so poorly understand. He should be known as well (or nearly so) as Frederick Douglas. In my own modest way, I hope to correct that.

  6. Tony Cooke says:

    I’ve heard every episode and this was a favorite!!!

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  8. Simon says:

    That was fantastic – i had never heard of this man here in Australia. Thank you for bringing him to life.

  9. ben james says:

    Sitting here in Hong Kong listening to this amazing story, so wonderfully told. Thanks Nate

  10. I really enjoy your podcasts. This one was especially enjoyable from multiple perspectives.

  11. Benedict Barnes says:

    for future memory palace episodes, you can do really interesting stories like the underground railway, a system created by slaves and abolitionists in the age of slavery, and maybe do one of my personal favourites: a story about a man called William Foshay and how he created a hoax about the fur-bearing trout. Please do these since you inspire me every day, and i have never heard a more mystical sounding storyteller

  12. Ken Pimple says:

    It seems that I have a new favorite episode every couple of months. This one – griping. I could hardly breathe as the took the boat. Keep this up, Nate, and you’ll be recognized as a Living Human Treasure.

  13. Therese Lawlor says:

    Wow! Nate, I am a first time listener and discovered you on my NPR app. I was enthralled. So appropriate for Black History month. Your writing is skilled. Crisp delivery as well. I was rooting for Smalls all the way. This story should be made into a movie. Who would you pick for Smalls role? Thanks.

  14. Finally go to this podcast. Wonderful, The Stuff You Missed History Class podcasters also did a podcast on Smalls. I see as I write this that someone else has already posted the link.
    I always find your podcasts relaxing and not frentic, something I like and I so try to emulate in my classroom. Again wonderful podcast.

  15. Michelle Alexander says:

    I don’t think I have ever wished so badly to live in the LA area! Amazing job!

  16. Shelley V. says:

    This episode actually made me stop in my tracks as I was listening to it. What a profound and beautiful story. I think it is one of the best stories I’ve heard in my life.

  17. Jenna Nolt says:

    Beautifully told Nate, incredible story. I’m the admin for a digital collection at Kenyon college on the Gullah culture of SC, and I believe we have interviews from some of Robert’s descendants: I didn’t know Robert’s story until your podcast, but now I’m going to have a student research the connections. Also, I love your work – I’ve listened to every episode once (some many more times).

  18. Ron Allen says:

    Nate, you,be done it again. Introducing me to an amazing story about a truly remarkable man has got me digging for more information. Thanks for sowing the seeds once more.

  19. Justin says:

    Nate- Thanks for another great episode! I’m a 7th grade teacher in Upstate NY and just used this to bookend a module on Frederick Douglass. Needless to say the students loved every minute of it but were most blown away by the ending as was I. A common comment: “Why isn’t Robert Smalls in our history book?”

  20. Paul Bowers says:

    As a South Carolinian, let me just say thank you for telling this story well. I grew up here and never heard Robert Smalls’ name until after I finished college, which is a real shame. He’s a state hero.

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  22. Kate says:

    I discovered your podcast today and have been listening to it all afternoon and into the evening…. As a freelancer working from home it really helps to pass my day listening to the intriguing stories and I love your storytelling style, thanks!

  23. Jessica says:

    This was an amazing story, I just stumbled upon this podcast and I’m so happy I did. Our history is filled with so many sad stories, I love ones like this. There is justice and the good guys do win in the end 🙂 So inspiring.

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  25. Eve says:

    What an amazing podcast & what a truly great man. I particularly love that he campaigned for women’s rights & not just black rights – sign of a generous & true humanitarian. His mother raised a good man, what a legacy!

  26. Zahrah says:

    I am so glad I stumbled upon this podcast. The stories leave me feeling so inspired.