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What people are saying:

“A must listen to!  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This podcast is by far one of the best podcasts I’ve ever listened to. There is always such a good balance of history and humor that make it a joy to listen to. I’ve gotten friends who have no interest in history hooked on this. The material is presented in a way that if it was taught like this in school, everybody would love history. 10/10 highly recommend!”

“A winner right out of the gate… ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Smart and funny – Howard and Jess are the perfect duo to make this podcast.

I enjoyed every minute – I usually listen to podcasts to fall asleep but this one kept me awake and thoroughly entertained. Three cheers for this plodcast!”

“Fun historical podcast…  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’ve been reading Plodding Through the Presidents’ blog for a long time, and I love how he tackles interesting—often little-known—topics in a thorough and often humorous way. The podcast is no different! Great topics, and I love the interaction between Howard and his wife. The two of them are hilarious together!”



Join history enthusiast and blogger Howard Dorre and his wife Jessica Dorre for an irreverent dive into lesser-known stories about the early American presidents. They explore myths, mysteries, scandals, and other oddities that shed light on the personalities of the founders and their families.

After six years of sharing stories here and on Facebook, Howard and Jess are bringing some of their favorite stories from the blog’s past – and some brand new ones – to a Plodding through the Presidents podcast!

The award-nominated podcast covers some dramatic relationships between the early presidents with healthy doses of romance, scandal, and revenge – all with the same irreverent focus on the truth the blog is known for.


Season 3:

Season 3 Episode 1 – Thomas Jefferson’s Killer Ram (Show Notes) – August 31, 2021

In our Season 3 premiere, we dig into how Thomas Jefferson’s lust for wool contributed to a death on the White House lawn. Come for the killer ram, stay for the sheep breeding and a quiz that could save you from getting rammed.

Season 3 Episode 2 – Potty-Mouthed Parrots (Show Notes) – August 31, 2021

We continue the theme of naughty animals and dive into the stories of two parrots named Polly – Dolley Madison’s violently jealous macaw and Andrew Jackson’s purportedly potty-mouthed parrot.

Season 3 Episode 3 – Lindsay Chervinsky & Washington’s Cabinet of Personalities (Show Notes) – September 14, 2021

We welcome our inaugural guest, Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky, author of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Making of an American Institution, and she shares her incredible insights about the personalities and relationships of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton.

Season 3 Episode 4 – The Mythology of Mary Ball Washington (Show Notes) – September 21, 2021

We dig into the truth of the most popular allegations biographers have levied against George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball Washington. We also trace the origins of two legends about her – the deadly lightning bolt said to have changed her and her founding fetus forever and the story of a wild horse (you thought we were done with animals?) that inspired the legend of young George and the cherry tree. Along the way we look at two recent biographies of Mary that approach their subject with very different perspectives.

Season 3 Episode 5 – Cara Finnegan & Photographic Presidents (Show Notes) – September 28, 2021

Author Dr. Cara Finnegan (Photographic Presidents: Making History From Daguerreotype to Digital) joins Howard for a conversation about the early days of photography and some of the most intriguing presidential photographs, including a photo of a painting of William Henry Harrison that looks eerily lifelike and a “spirit photograph” of Mary Lincoln and the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. Before the interview, Jess and Howard tackle Jimmy Carter’s brief but devastating encounter with a “killer” swamp rabbit, and the photographic proof.

Season 3 Episode 6 – The Amistad, The Creole, and Madison Washington (Show Notes) – October 5, 2021

We explore the incredible story of the Amistad captives and the sensation sparked by their rebellion, along with the opportunities their situation offered to the abolitionist cause and the rabble rousing John Quincy Adams. And we look at the impact of the Amistad rebellion on one man named Madison Washington who helped lead the most successful slave revolt in American history aboard a ship called The Creole.

Season 3 Episode 7 – Conspiracy Theories & The Corrupt Bargain with Mark Cheathem (Show Notes) – October 12, 2021

We look at the role of the Illuminati in the Election of 1800 between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson before welcoming Dr. Mark Cheathem to the show. He teaches a course on conspiracy theories in American history at Cumberland University, and he joined us to talk about his course, his personal inspiration for teaching it, and conspiratorial thinking. Then we dig into a conspiracy theory about a rigged election and the men who rode it all the way to the White House – Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren.

Season 3 Episode 8 – The Haunted Hermitage & The Stone Library Heist (Show Notes) – October 19, 2021

First, the Hermitage’s director of interpretation Bryan Gilley shares a historical haunting from Andrew Jackson’s home and a hair-raising experience of his own. Then, Adams National Historical Park curator Kelly Cobble describes the hauntingly beautiful Stone Library built to house John Quincy Adams’s books. And then we dig deeper into something Cobble mentioned – a 1996 heist at the Stone Library where the priceless Mendi Bible was stolen.

Season 3 Episode 9 – Ghosts of the White House & New England with Jeff Belanger (Show Notes) – October 26, 2021

We dig into the dubious story of Winston Churchill’s naked encounter with the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. Then we welcome author, paranormal investigator, and New England Legends host Jeff Belanger for a fascinating conversation about the long history of reported hauntings in the White House, why New England has so many legends, and the value of ghost stories in teaching history.

Season 3 Episode 10 – Mary Hellen’s Petticoat Magic (Show Notes) – November 9, 2021

We explore the tragic stories of John Quincy Adams’s sons—George Washington Adams, John Adams II, and Charles Francis Adams—through the structure of their cousin Mary Hellen playing a real life game of “F*ck Marry Kill” with them.

Season 3 Episode 11 – Benjamin Rush To Judgment (Show Notes) – November 16, 2021

In our third season finale, we look at confounding founder Benjamin Rush—his outstanding humanitarian accomplishments, his controversial bleeding and purging treatments during the Yellow Fever epidemics, and the dramatic trial where he sued newspaper publisher William Cobbett for libel for accusing him of killing his patients.


Season 2:

Paranormal Presidents Part 1 Paranormal Presidents Part 2 Alexander Hamilton vs. John Adams Elizabeth Jefferson's Earthquake Drowning Died on the Fourth of July Finding Madison's Funny Bone Gouverneur Morris and the Vampire of Bizarre The Peacemaker and the Cradle Robber

Season 2 Episode 1 – Paranormal Presidents Part 1 (Show Notes)

In our Season 2 premiere, we dig into three stories where presidential history meets the paranormal. They include an apparition of John Adams spotted while he was alive and well, the medieval ritual of “bier right” that figured into a murder trial where John Adams was the defense attorney, and the nursery bogey of Rawhead and Bloody Bones who frightened founders like Thomas Jefferson as children.

Season 2 Episode 2 – Paranormal Presidents Part 2 (Show Notes)

In our paranormal conclusion we dive into the wild story of Andrew Jackson and the Bell Witch, who terrorized the Bell family of Tennessee from 1817-1821. Then we explore John Quincy Adams’s electrifying adventures in the hereafter via a bizarre spiritual autobiography written by the medium Joseph Stiles in 1859.

Season 2 Episode 3 – Alexander Hamilton & John Adams: A Superabundance of Hate (Show Notes)

We explore the glorious mutual hatred of Alexander Hamilton, two men who despised each other more than any other founders. Their loathing is traced from the Revolutionary War to their power struggles during the Quasi-War, and the torch of hate is even carried by Adams years after Hamilton’s untimely death.

Season 2 Episode 4 – Elizabeth Jefferson’s Earthquake Drowning (Show Notes)

We examine the lives and mysterious deaths of Elizabeth Jefferson and her enslaved body servant Little Sall, who drowned in the Rivanna River just days after the first recorded earthquake in Virginia’s history. We also dig into how Elizabeth’s apparent intellectual disabilities were handled by biographers over the years.

Season 2 Episode 5 – Died On The Fourth Of July (Show Notes)

We have a good time exploring the unbelievable “coincidence” of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both dying on the Fourth of July on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the uncomfortable fact that James Monroe also died on the Fourth of July five years later, and the circumstances surrounding James Madison’s deliberate choice to break with this weird tradition.

Season 2 Episode 6 – Finding Madison’s Funny Bone (Show Notes)

We have a good time exploring the unbelievable “coincidence” of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both dying on the Fourth of July on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the uncomfortable fact that James Monroe also died on the Fourth of July five years later, and the circumstances surrounding James Madison’s deliberate choice to break with this weird tradition.

Season 2 Episode 7 – Gouverneur Morris and the Vampire of Bizarre (Show Notes)

We delve into the big penman energy of founding father Gouverneur Morris, the peg-legged sex-positive anti-slavery aristocrat who penned multiple constitutions and sailed through life with care-free confidence. We also explore the story of his wife, Ann Cary “Nancy” Randolph and the sensational scandal at Bizarre that she struggled to overcome.

Season 2 Episode 8 – The Peacemaker and the Cradle Robber (Show Notes)

In our Season 2 finale, we take on the single deadliest disaster to befall a presidential cabinet – the explosion aboard the USS Princeton in 1844. We look at four of the key players aboard and how they got there – President John Tyler, Secretary of State Abel Upshur, Captain Robert Stockton, and Julia Gardiner, “The Rose of Long Island” – and how this tragedy shook up Tyler’s plans for love and Texas.

Bonus Episode- The Sauciest Presidential Love Letters (Show Notes)

In this special bonus podcast timed for Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day, we discuss a few love letters from early presidents like John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson before diving into the raunchy trove of letters that came out of Warren G. Harding semi-treasonous affair with Carrie Fulton Phillips. Extra listener discretion advised.

Season 1:

Trailer:

Introducing Season 1 of Plodding Through The Presidents with presidential history blogger Howard Dorre and his wife Jessica Dorre.

Season 1 Episode 1 – John & Abigail & Smallpox (Show Notes)

We dig into the separate smallpox inoculations of John and Abigail Adams and the heartfelt and hilarious love letters this supercouple exchanged during their quarantines, along with some background on Lady Mary Montagu’s bold introduction of the smallpox inoculation from Turkey to England.

Season 1 Episode 2 – Jefferson’s Broken Heart and Wrist (Show Notes)

We explore Thomas Jefferson’s dangerous liaison in Paris with the talented artist Maria Cosway and her monkey-like husband Richard Cosway – a love story that resulted in two broken hearts, one permanently damaged wrist, and one epic 4000-word love letter written as a dialogue between Jefferson’s head and heart.

Season 1 Episode 3 – The Scandalmonger’s Revenge (Show Notes)

We dig into the rise and fall of James Thomson Callender, the pamphleteer who exposed the greatest sex scandals in early American history. His story is told through his attacks on Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson.

Season 1 Episode 4 – A Tale of Two Stepsons (Show Notes)

George Washington and James Madison never had any biological children, but they each had a problem child stepson. We explore the lives of the “voluptuous” Jacky Custis and the debauchery enthusiast John Payne Todd and how they affected their famous stepfathers and mothers.

Season 1 Episode 5 – John Quincy Adams vs. The Internet (Show Notes)

We dive into the truth behind four popular stories about John Quincy Adams, including the inspirational “if your actions inspire others” quote, the pet alligator in the White House, the skinny dipping interview with reporter Anne Royall, and the expedition to the center of the earth to visit the mole people.

Season 1 Episode 6 – Andrew Jackson’s Slut-Shaming Evolution (Show Notes)

In our Season 1 finale, we trace Andrew Jackson’s feelings about women’s honor from his early days as a rowdy outhouse-mover to his tragic relationship with his wife Rachel and finally to the Petticoat Affair – the scandal surrounding Margaret Eaton that nearly took down his entire administration.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Where can I listen?
You can find us almost anywhere you listen to podcasts, including:
Apple Podcasts
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How can I support your efforts?
Subscribe on Apple Podcasts!
Share with your friends!
If you like what you hear, please, please write a review!

Your podcast is listed as “explicit” – what’s up with that?
We talk about some of the private lives of the founders, which can include some adult themes. And sometimes, when discussing the past conversationally, it’s difficult not to swear if you’re me or my wife. I recommend listening and then deciding for yourself whether to expose the podcast to your parents.

Are you still going to update the blog?
Yes! I still plan to plod at least as ploddingly as ever here and share things on the Facebook page almost every single day.

How can I support your efforts financially? (My uncle died and I’m set to inherit $300 million but only if I can spend $30 million in 30 days with nothing to show for it.)
It sounds like you’re stuck in the underrated 1985 Richard Pryor film Brewster’s Millions. If I recall, you can only donate up to 5% or else you’ll be disqualified. The podcast is 100% free, but if you really want to use some of your uncle’s money to support our efforts (books for research, recording equipment, hosting, etc.) and get some great behind-the-scenes extras and exclusive content like cut scenes, the bonus podcast “Kinderplodding” with our 6-year-old daughter and more, please join our Patreon community – we would truly appreciate it! You can also support the pod and spread the word by shopping the designs at our merch store.

 

Thanks for plodding along with us!
–Howard and Jess