American History

Contact: Owen Jenkins - -
Day & Times: Wednesday  Morning  10.30 - 12.00pm
Frequency & Venue: Fortnightly at St Paul's Church, Long Lane, Finchley N3


The main focus of the group since we started in 2013 has been the history of the USA to the start of WW2.  The scope also includes Canada, Mexico and Central and South America.

From September 2024 our main focus will revert to a chronological approach up to and beyond the War of Independence to the early days of the Republic.

However, we will also include topics that cover interesting people, places and events pre- and post-WW2.

NEW MEMBERS WELCOME!  No prior knowledge is needed – anyone who wants to learn or share knowledge of this fascinating subject is welcome. Topics planned for the Autumn Term (2024/25) will include:

  • George Washington – soldier and statesman
  • The ‘Over the Mountain Men’ and the War of Independence
  • The Lewis & Clark expedition from Pennsylvania to the Pacific coast
  • The electoral two-party system
  • The American Constitution
  • Red Cloud’s War

The 2023/24 session covered a wide variety of topics as highlighted below:

  • The pre-colonial era including the Hopewell culture, the rise and fall of the Comanche empire and the last of the Mohicans
  • The establishment, development and expansion of the North American continent, with talks on New York, Pennsylvania and the Louisiana Purchase
  • A description of how settlers migrated westwards into the new frontier lands and the infamous gunslingers and military figures including General Custer.
  • Conditions for slaves on the plantations and how their resilience help shape African American music. Also, the work of Frederick Douglass as an influential abolitionist.
  • The American Constitution, particularly the Amendments and how this helped lead to equality of treatment, but also the continuation of restrictions through segregation and other measures prior to the Civil Rights Act.
  • The Franklin and Amundsen expeditions of the Northwest Passage linking the Atlantic and the Pacific.
  • The history of the Philippines including America’s role in WW2
  • We also heard about many and varied 19th and 20th century events and personalities including: the assassination of President Kennedy; the life, times and music of George Gershwin and Frank Sinatra; environmental innovators such as John Muir and Rachel Carson; and the works of the author John Steinbeck