Engaging and Informative Presentations on American History

Edward T. O'Donnell is a professional public speaker with decades of experience delivering engaging, informative, and thought-provoking presentations before business professionals, educators, and audiences of lifelong learners.

See below for his presentation topics.

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Presentation Topics

Immigration and the Uneasy Making of Multicultural America

Why have so many millions come to the U.S. and how has each wave transformed American society? And why, despite our paeans to being "a nation of immigrants," have Americans historically despised each wave of newcomers? This presentation explores the key periods of immigration in U.S. history, the major immigrant groups that arrived, their struggles to earn a living and adjust to new surroundings, and the contributions they made to American life. It also addresses the persistent problem of nativism and the ideas, concerns, and myths that contribute to it. One goal of this presentation is to provide the historical context and information that is sorely needed in our national debate about immigration, both legal and undocumented.

Three Key Turning Points in American History

US history has been shaped by many key turning points that dramatically changed the direction of the nation and set it on a new historical path. Some took the form of groundbreaking political and philosophical concepts; some were dramatic military victories and defeats. Still, others were nationwide social and religious movements or technological and scientific innovations. In this presentation, we’ll define what constitutes a key turning point and then examine closely three of them—the Declaration of Independence, the Spanish American War, and the New Deal to reveal how they came about and how they changed America’s social, economic, and political character. It’s an engaging and thought-provoking way to look at the broad sweep of US history and, importantly, to see how it can inform our understanding of our contemporary challenges.

Three Days That Shocked America

American history has been punctuated by many jarring moments that grabbed the nation’s attention and triggered emotions of fear and outrage, as well as sympathy and compassion. The significance of these events—ranging from assassinations, murders, and riots, to hoaxes, scandals, and trials—goes far beyond the details of what transpired. They often provide us with a window into the key issues and dynamics of society at that time. In this presentation, we will examine three such events: the Shays Rebellion in 1786-87, the 1886 Haymarket Bombing, and the Soviet Union’s 1949 detonation of their first atomic bomb in 1949, an event that took America by surprise and prompted a radical shift in US Cold War policy. This presentation will conclude with a look at some important connections between these seemingly disparate events.

Three Key Turning Points in American History

US history has been shaped by many key turning points that dramatically changed the direction of the nation and set it on a new historical path. Some took the form of groundbreaking political and philosophical concepts; some were dramatic military victories and defeats. Still, others were nationwide social and religious movements or technological and scientific innovations. In this presentation, we’ll define what constitutes a key turning point and then examine closely three of them—the Declaration of Independence, the Spanish American War, and the New Deal to reveal how they came about and how they changed America’s social, economic, and political character. It’s an engaging and thought-provoking way to look at the broad sweep of US history and, importantly, to see how it can inform our understanding of our contemporary challenges.