Episode 19: Yosemite

(pronounced yo SEM i tee)

Those we remember as Puritans were a company of religionists who settled the Massachusetts Bay colony of New England (Nova Anglia) in 1630. Elements of that event became enshrined in the story of American exceptionalism which has informed the writing of U.S. national history ever since. On their official seal, the Puritans chose to depict a Native American uttering the phrase “come over and help us.” In truth, the Puritans had little or no interest in missionary work among the Indians, and saw them instead as a Satanic menace to be rooted out. The seal was inspired by a Biblical verse that had the Philippians, a people living on European soil soliciting Saint Paul and the early Christian missionaries to come across the Bosporous Sea to plant the Christian banner in Europe. As such, the seal heralded a new age of Christian imperialism in a foreign land. Puritan governor John Winthrop is remembered for proclaiming Massachusetts as a “city upon a hill,” a phrase that has been lifted on behalf of American exceptionalism in the modern age. Our best evidence suggests that Winthrop may have never uttered the phrase, but after having written it for a lay sermon he never delivered, simply tucked it away in his journal, where it remained unseen for the next two hundred years. Upon its discovery, it would get woven into a new age of American imperialism and add to the national conceit of exceptionalism.


We welcome Josh back from his errand in the wilderness and catch up with the drunken frat party known as America. The frat prez took a cognitive test and couldn’t pronounce Yosemite. While frat brother Tom Cotton, Senator from Arkansas, initiated pledge week hazing with a bill to ban history teachers from discussing slavery. If you wanna pledge this frat, bro Tom will make you sing the song of American exceptionalism while they pour beer on your head. But the saucy boys aren’t buying it, we’re not pledging, and we’re not wasting a single craft brew on the nonsensical boast of American exceptionalism. Chris looks at the nefarious origins of colonial America (hint: far from exceptional), and Josh reminds us that power is what power does. Whether America, China, or the Ottoman Empire – like birds of a feather – empires march together in history, even when marching straight toward a cliff. 

U.S. Senator Foghorn Leghorn of Arkansas, reimagined in his own fever dream. And Piccachu.

If you would like to hear Episode 19 Yosemite, click on the link below:


Sources Referenced and Other Items of Interest

Linda M. Heywood and John K. Thornton, Central Africans, Atlantic Creoles, and the Foundations of the Americas, 1585-1660 (2007).


Teo Armus, “Sen. Tom Cotton Wants to Take ‘ The1619 Project’ Out of the Classroom. His Efforts Have Kept it in the Spotlight” (Washington Post, July 27, 2020)


Jason Mark, “You’re No Public Lands Hero If You Can’t Pronounce Yosemite” (Sierra Club.Org August 6, 2020


” If upon a Just war the lord should deliver [the Indians] into our hands, we might easily have men women and Children enough to exchange for the Moores, which will be more gainful pillage for us than we conceive, for I do not see how we can thrive until we get into a stock of slaves sufficient to do all our business, for our Children’s Children will hardly see this great Continent filled with people.”

Emmanuel Downing, writing to his brother-in-law & Massachusetts Bay governor, John Winthrop, 1645

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