American History

March 2020 Newsletter

December— In keeping with Christmas traditions, we had a quiz and a fuddle which made for a sociable and relaxed session. The quiz was all about American History to see who’d been paying attention. The prizes were awarded at the end to the winning team, slightly downgraded due to a doggy mishap with the boxes of Matchmakers which I clumsily left within doggy reach.

January—Richard gave us a highly informative talk on the American Constitution. Not as dry as one might think, as this has seen many repercussions through the years, when the articles and amendments have been questioned.

February—The talk this month was about the Americans love affair with the gun. Starting with the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms, we saw how the words of the amendment had been warped to suit political will, and the statistics which bear out the consequences of this “love affair”.

If you wish to join the group, please email Celia on

Celia Billau

December 2019 Newsletter

September—A talk on the women who served in the Civil War was delivered by Andrew Merriman, and there followed an interesting discussion about the changing roles of women in warfare. They might make statues of the men who did battle but the women played very significant roles as well, and received less renown.

October—We had a talk on Prohibition during the 1920s and early 30s, and Jim Lyons took us through the background and history, the laws as they stood and the consequences. Clearly, if you bring in a ban on something, then there are some that will grow rich on it! The Mafia and Walgreens did very well as a result.

November—Once again, Richard Taylor delivered a highly informative talk on the making of the USA, this talk following on from previous talks about the colonisation and development. This talk focused on the international ramifications of the war of independence and the consequences.

If you wish to join the group, please email Celia on

Celia Billau

September 2019 Newsletter

June—We were treated to a talk from Richard all about the development of the American flag, which turned out to be a much more interesting evolution of design than simply adding a few more stars now and again.

July—We had two talks: the first from Carole who spoke about Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad which was used to rescue and free slaves; the second one was from Mike about the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad and the social effects resulting from the linking between the East and the West. A very entertaining afternoon.

August—Our guest speaker David Skillen delivered a talk entitled A Line In The Sand— the fall of the Alamo and the rise of Texas. This was full of detailed information about the Mexican wars and David certainly knows his stuff. We ended up with that famous song in our heads: “King of the wild frontier”, you know the one!

If you wish to join the group, please email Celia on

Celia Billau

June 2019 Newsletter

March – Jim Lyons did a presentation about the Lewis and Clark Expedition between 1804 and 1806 when the two explorers met up in St Louis , mainly to find a water route to the Pacific. A number of interesting historical facts emerged, including the fact that a slave who came along with the expeditionary party, and an Indian with her baby were allowed to vote with the group on where to camp – this being the first time a black man and a woman were allowed a vote on anything! The route covers some amazing American scenery and has become a famous trail, now managed by the National Park Service.

April – the second part of Richard Taylor’s presentation about Colonial America, this one covering from 1620 to 1763 and up to the American Revolution. This period was covered in a series of themes which covered the relationship with England, the growth of towns, religion, government and slavery. There was so much information included here, and we all learned such a lot about this period of American history.

May – the Watergate incident, and a study of a corrupt President. What did he know and when did he stop knowing it? All the president’s men were clearly deeply involved in the great cover-up. So Nixon bugged his own office and refused to release the tapes. It forced the president to resign in disgrace, although he seemed to never have any remorse for what he and his henchmen did.

If you wish to join the group, please email Celia on

Celia Billau

March 2019 Newsletter

December – we had a talk from David Coy all about The Dust Bowl which was the devastating drought and wind which affected a number of southern states during the 1930s leading to the loss of agricultural land and dust piling up on to houses and cars. Woody Guthrie songs linked to the Dust Bowl accompanied the talk.

January – and the subject was The First Settlers which took us back to the 1400’s and the European explorers who happened upon this great continent in their search for a passage to the far East. Richard Taylor presented the first part of two talks which will cover the period during which the first migrant arrived and settled in America.

February – there is no chronological sequence here, as we move back to 1929 and the Wall Street Crash which occurred in the New York stock exchange. Mike Norman gave us an interesting talk about the run up to the crash and the aftermath. How disappointing that the lessons weren’t learnt in 2008!

If you wish to join the group, please email Celia on

Celia Billau

December 2018 Newsletter

The first meeting of this new group took place on Tuesday 13th November and we discussed a programme for the next few months, exploring everyone’s individual interests. We decided to meet on the second Tuesday of each month at 2.30 to 4pm at the Pearson Centre. We then had a short talk and discussion on the American mid-term elections, where we learned quite a bit about the American political system. The sample voting booklet was quite an eye-opener, to think that the electorate have so many different things to vote for in one election. No wonder they have to provide seats at the voting booths!

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday December 11th when we will have a talk from David Coy about “The Dust Bowl” which occurred during the 1930’s. We are looking for new recruits to this group which promises to offer a variety of historical and political perspectives on the USA.

Please email Celia on if you are interested.

Celia Billau

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