Calendar of David Library Events

As part of its mission to promote interest in American history, 1750 – 1800, the David Library offers two seasons of lectures, in the fall and in the spring.  The lectures are presented by leading scholars and authors, and are offered free of admission to the general public. 

The David Library will soon announce its Fall 2017 series.  Watch this space!

Fall 2017 Lectures

The David Library of the American Revolution will present another series of lectures in the Fall of 2017 featuring leading historians, authors and scholars.  The lectures are admission free, but reservations are required. Call 215.493.6776 x 100 or email to register.  DLAR lectures are held in the Feinstone Conference Center at the David Library, 1201 River Road (Rt. 32), Washington Crossing, PA 18977. 

Wednesday, September 20 at 7:30 PM:  “’So Necessary a Post… So Much a Thoroughfare’: Trenton in the American Revolution,” a lecture by Larry Kidder.  In the winter of 1778, while his main army was encamped at Valley Forge, General George Washington sent his brigade of light cavalry to Trenton for the winter, not realizing just how much the town had suffered from its contributions supporting the war to that point. Although the town leaders were patriotic, they were so overwhelmed at the prospect of maintaining the horsemen that they begged Washington to send the cavalry elsewhere; they knew the demands on the town and its people would only get worse as Trenton continued to be so important to the success of the Revolution.  Because of its location in western New Jersey on the main road connecting the New England and Southern colonies, and because of the constant presence of Washington’s army  in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, Trenton played a huge role in the American Revolution.  Larry Kidder is the author of Crossroads of the Revolution: Trenton 1774-1783.
Wednesday, October 11 at 7:30 PM: "The People of 1777 Saratoga,” a lecture by Dean Snow In his acclaimed book, 1777: Tipping Point at Saratoga, Dean Snow breathes new life into a story usually told simply in terms of troop movements, military strategy, and political aftermaths. While Snow's account impressively and thoroughly reconstructs the Saratoga campaign, he defines the historical moment in terms of the men and women who were there. The people of Saratoga, New York in 1777 will be the focus of his talk at the David Library. Snow is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Penn State University and past president of the Society for American Archaeology. His previous books include Archaeology of Native North America and The Iroquois.  
Sunday, October 29 at 3:00 PM: “First Ladies and Slaves: The Ties That Bound,” a lecture by Marie Jenkins Schwartz As day-to-day managers of their households, Martha Washington, Martha Jefferson, and Dolley Madison dealt with the realities of a slaveholding culture directly and continually. For them, slavery was more than an economic system that made their lavish lifestyles possible. It was a domestic way of life that reflected and reinforced their elite status. Marie Jenkins Schwartz’s book, Ties That Bound: Founding First Ladies and Slaves, offers a close-up look at the complicated intimacy these women shared with their enslaved household help. Schwartz’ lecture will illuminate not only the lives of the founding first ladies and their domestic slaves, but also class, race, and gender in early America.
Wednesday, November 1 at 7:30 PM:  “Equal Rights May Have Been Self-Evident, But Have They Been Realized?” a lecture by Richard D. Brown.  Despite our country’s founding statement that “all men are created equal,” the early Republic struggled with social inequality.  Although Americans paid homage to the ideal of equal rights, this ideal came up against entrenched social and political practices. Richard D. Brown, author of the new book Self-Evident Truths: Contesting Equal Rights from the Revolution to the Civil War, will discuss how the ideal was tested in struggles over    race and ethnicity, religious freedom, gender and social class, voting rights and citizenship. He will show how high principals fared in criminal trials and divorce cases when minorities, women, and people from different social classes faced judgement, and he will explore the ways revolutionary political ideas penetrated popular thinking and everyday practice from the American Revolution through the Civil War. 
Tuesday, November 7 at 7:30 PM: “Making Sense of the Burr Conspiracy,” a lecture by James E. Lewis, Jr. In the two years that followed his famous duel with Alexander Hamilton, former Vice President Aaron Burr traveled through the Trans-Appalachian West gathering support for a mysterious enterprise, for which he was arrested and tried for treason in 1807. Burr was said to have enticed some people with plans to liberate Spanish Mexico, others with promises of land in the Orleans Territory, still others with talk of building a new empire beyond the Appalachian Mountains. “The Burr Conspiracy,” as it was known, became a cause célèbre of the early republic with Burr cast as the chief villain, even as the evidence against him was vague and conflicting. The author of the new book The Burr Conspiracy: Uncovering the Story of an Early American Crisis will consider the various political and cultural forces that turned rumor into a scandal during the early days of the new nation’s fragile union and uncertain republic. 
Tuesday, November 28 at 7:30: ““Revolution Song: The Many Meanings of Freedom at America’s Founding,” a lecture by Russell Shorto.  In his new book, Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom, Russell Shorto draws on diaries, letters and autobiographies to flesh out the lives of six very different people who lived through the American Revolution.  In his lecture, he will talk about how each of his subjects came to embody a different take on the notion of “freedom,” and how the seeds of abolition, women’s rights and the rights of workers were planted in the Revolutionary era. He explains, “To an extent even more than most of us think, the 18th century was truly all about freedom. In the previous century the idea of the individual came into being in our modern sense, and as people became more fully aware of themselves as individuals, they began to demand freedom. But economic freedom for a particular class was only one expression of this demand.” Shorto is the best-selling author of The Island at the Center of the World, and a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine.
Wednesday, December 13 at 7:30 PM: “The Expanding Blaze: How the American Revolution Ignited the World, 1775-1848,” a lecture by Jonathan Israel.  A vast amount has been written, from many different points of view, about the fundamental importance of the American Revolution in the formation and subsequent history of the United States. “In stark contrast, almost nothing has been written, and very little is generally known among the public, about the fundamental importance of the American Revolution outside the United States,” says Jonathan Israel, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Studies.  His new book, The Expanding Blaze: How the American Revolution Ignited the World, 1775-1848, portrays the Revolution as a global inspiration and formative agent, especially in Europe, Canada, Southern Africa and the Spanish Americas. 

Additional Events at the David Library this Fall

An informal Gallery Talk on Saturday, September 9 at 3:00: “240 Years Ago This Week: A Public Historian Looks at ‘the other’ 9/11.The Battle of Brandywine, a pivotal event in the American Revolution, occurred on September 11, 1777.  In this informal, illustrated talk, Geoffrey Fisher will discuss the Battle, its historical significance, and what he learned about it while completing a practicum at the David Library last spring towards his M. A. in Public History. No reservations required.
Sunday, October 22, at 3:00:  The David Library of the American Revolution and the Lower Makefield Historical Society will co-present “Marjorie Merriweather Post: A Connoisseur of Fine Art,” a talk by Donald G. Koones.  For years, Hillwood, home of the Post cereal heiress, was called “the best kept secret in Washington, D. C.”  Veteran educator and world traveler Donald Koones will take the audience inside Marjorie Merriweather Post’s treasure-filled mansion for a look at her fabulous art collections and her fascinating family history.  Reservations required.  Call 215.493.6776 x 100 or email     
Saturday, November 4 at 3:00 PM:  Movie:  “The Duel: Hamilton vs. Burr.” On July 11, 1804, the Vice President of the United States, Aaron Burr, shot and mortally wounded the former Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, in one of the most notorious duels in history.  Did Hamilton really fire his shot in the air? Did Burr really intend to kill his long-time rival? Why did these two statesmen end up targeting each other on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River? Long a touchstone of American history, the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr has taken on mythic proportions. This revealing documentary, produced by the History Channel in 2004, strips the facts from the fiction surrounding the fatal encounter.  Hosted by Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss, “The Duel” features a lively round-table discussion in which Dreyfuss, novelist Gore Vidal, biographer Ron Chernow, journalist Richard Brookhiser, historian Joanne Freeman and other experts debate the many facets of the deadly exchange.  We’ll screen the movie in Stone Hall.  No reservations required.