Reflections at the Intersection of American History, Religion, Politics, and Academic Life
Friday, January 9, 2015
The David Library of the American Revolution Releases Its Spring 2015 Slate of Programs
...And it is a star-studded lineup:
the exception of Richard K. Beeman's lecture on April 22nd, which will be
held at Bucks County Community College, all events will take place in the
Feinstone Conference Center at the David Library of the American Revolution, 1201 River Road, Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania (1.3 miles
north of the Washington Crossing Bridge). David Library events are
admission-free, but reservations are necessary, and can be made by calling
215.493.6776 ext. 100, or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lectures at the David Library:
January 18, 3:00 PM - "Present But Not Accounted For:
Women at the 1777-1778 Valley Forge Campaign," Nancy K. Loane, Ph.
D. -- Did you know that more the 400 women were
encamped at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-1778? Much has been
written about the Valley Forge winter and Washington's fortitude there,
of the remarkable remodeling of the Constitutional Army and the suffering
endured by the soldiers. But what about those women? Who were they?
What did they do at Valley Forge? Nancy K. Loane is author of Following the Drum: Women at
the Valley Forge Encampment. This program is a
co-presentation of DLAR and the Lower Makefield Historical Society. (Snow
date: January 25) Wednesday,
February 25, 7:30 PM - "Rethinking Slavery's Slow Death
in New Jersey, 1775-1865," James Gigantino II, Ph. D. -- Contrary
slavery persisted in the North well into the nineteenth century. This was
especially the case in New Jersey, which did not pass an abolition
statute until 1804. New Jersey's "gradual" abolition law freed
children born to enslaved mothers only after they had served their
mother's master for at least two decades. This lecture will examine
the impact of the American Revolution on New Jersey in this regard, and
explain how there really were no easy dichotomies between "free
states" and "slave states" up to the Civil War.
James Gigantino II is Assistant Professor of History and an affiliated
faculty member in African & African American Studies at the
University of Arkansas. He is the author of The Ragged Road to Abolition:
Slavery and Freedom in New Jersey, 1775-1865. Tuesday,
March 24, 7:30 PM - "A Tale of Two Plantations,"
Ph. D. -- Since the 1970s, Richard S. Dunn has been
tracking the 1,103
slaves who lived
at Mesopotamia plantation in Jamaica between 1762 and 1833, and the
973 slaves who lived at Mount Airy plantation in Virginia between 1808
and 1865, reconstructing the lineages of slave families from both
plantations through four or five generations. In Jamaica, many more slaves
died than were born, and the planters imported huge numbers of new slaves
from Africa to replace the dead workers. In Virginia, the slave
population doubled every twenty-five years, and the planters sold huge
numbers of "surplus" slaves, or moved them to distant work
sites. The people at Mesopotamia and Mount Airy suffered a terrible
predicament, trapped into forced labor, with meager possibilities for
personal achievement. Bare traces of their existence have been handed
down to us by their captors, and represent mostly what slaveholders chose
to inscribe. But by interpreting such records against the grain, these
simple family diagrams and biographical sketches highlight personhood,
connection, and belonging rather than proprietary accounting.
Consequently, they open many fruitful lines of investigation. Dr. Dunn
taught at Princeton, the University of Michigan, the University of
Oxford, and for 39 years at the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, he
founded the Philadelphia Center for Early American Studies (renamed the
McNeil Center in 1998), and directed the Center from 1978 to 2000. He and
his wife Mary Maples Dunn are former Co-Executive Officers of the
American Philosophical Society. His latest book, A Tale of Two Plantations:
Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia, was just
published at the end of 2014.
April 8, 7:30 PM - LECTURE: "Kidnapping the Enemy:
The Special Operations to Capture Generals Charles Lee & Richard
Prescott," Christian M. McBurney
-- On December 13, 1776, a party of British dragoons surprised and
captured Major General Charles Lee, second-in-command of the Continental
Army. In order to have a British captive of the same rank, Rhode Island's
William Barton planned and executed the capture of Major General Richard
Prescott. Barton's raid was the outstanding special operation of the
Revolutionary War and still ranks as one of the greatest in American
History. But did the pride Barton earned from the mission ruin his life?
McBurney is the author of three books on the American Revolution,
including his newest, Kidnapping
the Enemy, about the missions to capture Charles Lee and
Richard Prescott Tuesday,
June 2, 7:30 PM - LECTURE - "'The Pursuit of Happiness':
On John Adams and Egalitarianism in the Declaration of
Independence," Danielle S. Allen, Ph. D.
- Professor Allen is an American classicist and political scientist. She
the UPS Foundation Professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies'
School of Social Science. Her latest book, Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of
Independence in Defense of Equality, has been called "a
tour de force of close textual analysis" by Gordon Wood and "a
wise and rich book," by Cornel West. In her talk at the David
Library, Professor Allen will consider John Adams, who she believes
played a much more significant role in the development of the Declaration
of Independence than is conventionally recognized. "Among his
central contributions was to provide the definitive grounding for the
Declaration's egalitarianism in the concept of 'happiness,'" she
notes, adding, "This was a move away from the slave-holding
sections' preferred commitment to 'property.'"
American Heritage Music Performance:
Tuesday, March 10 at 7:30 PM, the David Library and
the Friends of the Delaware Canal will co-present a performance of
American "roots music" by the Long Hill String Band.
music in the 1800's was melodic, energetic, and bound to start toes
a'tapping. Settlers carried tunes from their homelands and created
new music that embodied their hardships, joys, and stories from the
Revolutionary War to the Civil War and beyond.
Long Hill String Band, a group of six local musicians, will perform with
fiddle, banjo, mountain dulcimer, mandolin, bass, guitar and voice to
evoke the times when America was growing by leaps and bounds.
(There may even be some flatfooting and limberjack dancing!)
the program will be canal tunes (yes, there is more to canal music than
just the ubiquitous Erie Canal song), reels, jigs, waltzes, square
dance tunes, and "familiars" such as "Oh Susannah!,"
"Buffalo Gals" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."
Singing, humming, toe tapping and clapping by the audience will be part
of the fun! Karl Varnai and his band members will also share some
of the history of the times and the tunes that they will be playing.
March 29 at 3:00 PM, help celebrate the
publication of "The
Revolution's Last Men: the Soldiers Behind the Photographs"
by Don N. Hagist. In 1864, as the Civil War threatened to tear apart the
United States, a book called The
Last Men of the
Revolution was published. It featured photographs and
interviews of six old men who were believed to be the only veterans of
the American Revolution still living at that time. The book captured the
public's imagination when it was first published, but through a combination
of the subjects' fading memories and the interviewer's patriotic agenda,
the profiles accompanying the photographs distort history. In his
new version of this landmark work, independent researcher and author Don
N. Hagist has updated the profiles of each of these veterans using
service records, pension files and other materials now available.
Hagist's book, The
Revolution's Last Men, includes accurate biographies of
each of the six men, several additional newly-discovered photographs,
drawings of how the men might have looked when they were soldiers in the
American Revolution, and many unexpected discoveries uncovered in the
recent research. This event will include a talk by the author about his
process, as well as a book sale reception to celebrate the publication of
this exciting new work.
Lecture at Bucks
County Community College:
April 22 the David Library and Bucks County Community
College will co-present "The Founding Fathers of 1787:
Lessons In Political Leadership," a lecture by Richard K.
Beeman, Ph. D. in the Kevin and Sima Zlock Performing Arts
Center on the BCCC campus.
is the John Welsh Centennial Professor of History Emeritus at the
University of Pennsylvania. The author of many books, he won the George
Washington Book Prize for Plain,
Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution.
His latest book is Our
Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor: Americans Choose Independence.
his talk on April 22, he noted, "Americans today, though they
continue to show great reverence for the U.S. Constitution, are often
thoroughly disenchanted with the way in which our political system is
functioning. Indeed, that disenchantment borders on disgust when the
subject is the hyper-partisan and vituperative manner in which our United
States Congress functions (or, in many cases, fails to function). In this
era of political dysfunction, it might be useful to look back in time, to
the summer of 1787, when 55 delegates, representing widely diverse
constituencies across the breadth of America, were able in just under
four months to craft a constitution that has not only brought stability
and justice to the United States, but has also served as a model for
other constitutions around the world." In this lecture,
Professor Beeman will examine both the eighteenth century context in
which the delegates to the Constitutional Convention carried out their
deliberations and the varieties of individual and collective leadership
represented among that group of extraordinary men.