2017:GUIDANCE FOR A NEW PRESIDENT
James Traub, John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit.
Scion of a political dynasty and our 6th President, Adams also served the country as a
diplomat, Secretary of State and member of Congress. He saw the country through
recessions and populist rebellions; assert a role on the world stage; play wedge politics among the great powers of the day; and struggle with nation-building in countries without a tradition of self-government. He finally and painfully recognized that the problem of slavery would have to be faced directly. He was unpopular, passionate, stubborn, difficult as a husband and father, and in his wife’s words “magnificent.” Traub is author of six books and a writer for ForeignPolicy.com, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and other journals
of public policy and foreign affairs.
Akhil Reed Amar, “New York and the U.S. Constitution.”
New York produced four of the current Justices, and our next President is a New Yorker. The story of this State’s contributions to the Federal Constitution is dramatic, through all the eras of what Amar calls the original Constitution, the one as amended, the unwritten one, and “the one we deserve.” And in November of 2017, we’ll be offered a vote on a
Constitutional Convention to amend the State Constitution, whose principal author was John Jay. Amar is a Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University,
where he received Yale’s highest award for excellence in teaching.
Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf, Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination.
Gordon-Reed and Onuf are two of the country’s leading Jefferson scholars, at Harvard and the University of Virginia, respectively. Here they portray Jefferson as a man who was able to live with deep contradictions, even in the face of disastrous practical consequences or at the cost of appearing unprincipled. His belief in the rights of man, and his failure to find a practical end to slavery. His love of his family (legal and extralegal) with his inability to save them from the bankruptcy that scattered them at his death. His love of order, and his
tolerance for the upheaval that comes with radical change.
2016:TELLING STORIES OF WAR
Darden Smith and Mary Judd, SongwritingWith Soldiers
SongwritingWith:Soldiers pairs active duty and veteran service members with professional songwriters to produce songs about their experiences. The evening will include a performance as well as information about the program. Darden Smith, Creative Director, is a singer-songwriter based in Austin, Texas, who founded the program after performing in a military hospital in Germany in 2012; Mary Judd is an educator and the program’s Executive Director.
Kevin M. Murphy, American Encounters: Anglo-American Portraiture in an Era of Revolution
When we look at the art in the Homestead collection – works by Gilbert Stuart, Benjamin West, Jean-Antoine Houdon, John Trumbull – we might not see the signs of growing Revolutionary fervor. American Encounters shows us how to look for them. Kevin Murphy’s book grew out of a series of exhibit collaborations among The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, The High Museum, Musee du Louvre, and Terra Foundation for American Art. Mr. Murphy was the exhibit curator at Crystal Bridges, and is now the Eugenie Pendergast Curator of American Art at the Williams College Museum of Art.
Nicholas A. Robinson, The Forest Charter and Magna Carta: Evolving Human Rights in Nature
The Forest Charter was the vehicle through which the 800-year-old Magna Carta was kept effective, restraining the power of kings to collect from their subjects the funds needed to pay for wars. It also created the first lasting principles for negotiating competing claims on the natural world – a “rule of law for nature.” Nicholas Robinson has been a leader in the field of Environmental Law since its birth, and is currently University Professor for the Environment at Pace Law School and Co-Director of its Global Center for Environmental Legal Studies, and an Adjunct Professor at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
2015: AMERICA AT WAR: MANAGING THE MESSAGE
Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy, The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution and the Fate of the Empire
The loss of America was a shocking defeat for the British Empire. Propaganda then and common wisdom now blame incompetent leadership in Britain. But O’Shaughnessy instead presents ten British leaders as sympathetic and skilled, struggling with the challenges of domestic politics, the expense of their own European wars, and the logistical difficulties of maintaining an army far away from home – in addition to the fierceness of the Americans.
Donald P. Gregg, Pot Shards: Fragments of a Life Lived in CIA, the White House, and the Two Koreas
In his memoir of 31 years in CIA and 10 years in the White House, Ambassador Gregg bears personal witness to hidden intelligence, behind the scenes diplomatic history, and the personal qualities of the Presidents and politicians he served under.
Harold Holzer, Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion
During Lincoln’s era, newspapers and politicians became “mutually dependent and totally inseparable” without even a pretense of neutrality, and Lincoln worked hard to find advantage in that system. He courted publishers, bought his own newspaper, and later censored and closed opponents and critics. Holzer tells the story of Lincoln’s mastery of this hyper-partisan environment, and of the three New York publishers who dominated Civil War journalism – James Gordon Bennett of the New York Herald, Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune, and Henry J. Raymond of the New York Times.
2014: LONG PATH TO EQUALITY
Gilbert King, Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America
In 1949 Groveland, Florida, four young African-American men were accused of raping a young white woman. NAACP’s Thurgood Marshall, “Mr. Civil Rights,” was then leading the strategy behind Brown v. Board of Education, but was drawn against the counsel of his advisors into this case too. King draws on never-before-examined FBI and NAACP files to present a meticulous and absolutely harrowing narrative of murderous violence and corruption, and courage. King has also written about Supreme Court history and the death penalty for the New York Times and the Washington Post, and is a featured contributor to Smithsonian Magazine’s history blog, Past Imperfect. His book The Execution of Willie Francis was published in 2008. Devil in the Grove won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.
Craig D. Townsend, PhD, Faith in Their Own Color: Black Episcopalians in Antebellum New York City
In 1853, St. Philip’s Church, the first African-American Episcopal congregation in New York City, applied to be recognized by the Episcopal hierarchy on an equal footing with white parishes, at a time when most of their peers were forming and joining evangelical denominations. John Jay II was an important advisor and strategist to St. Philip’s, working closely with the church’s own leaders (including James McCune Smith) against unrelenting opposition and discrimination. But the application itself, and Jay’s own role, were complicated by national antislavery politics. Faith in Their Own Color tells a remarkable story of a group’s paradoxical search for autonomy and acceptance, as well as a deep portrait of the lives of free African-Americans in the antebellum north. Townsend is Vicar of St. James’ Church in New York.
Philip Kunhardt, What Makes a Transformative Life?
Philip Kunhardt is the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Transformative Lives at NYU. The Center looks at “exemplary individuals whose dedication, genius, and moral vision helped shape the course of human events,” in the context of their times and the circles in which they moved. He will talk about some of the “lives” he studies especially deeply – the young Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr. – as well as the art and purpose of biography during times of great social change. Kunhardt is Distinguished Scholar in Residence in the Humanities at New York University and teacher of history and biography in the College of Arts and Science. He has co-authored five books, and written and co-produced numerous documentaries for PBS, ABC, HBO, Discovery and other networks.
2013: AMERICA AND GREAT POWERS DIPLOMACY
JOHN LEWIS GADDIS, George Kennan: An American Life
Author of the 1946 State Department “Long Telegram” and the 1947 Foreign Affairs “X article,” George F. Kennan articulated the doctrine of containment as the basis for postwar peace with the Soviet Union: that the Soviet Union was inherently expansionist, and at the same time vulnerable to failure from within. Advisor to and critic of Presidents from Truman through Reagan, Kennan lived to see what he felt was the misapplication of his containment doctrine in Vietnam, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. John Lewis Gaddis is the Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History at Yale University, where he teaches classes in Cold War history, grand strategy, international studies, and biography. George Kennan was awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in biography.
COLONEL CINDY JEBB, USMA, Counterinsurgency: A Reexamination
This past May, the New York Times reported on the active debate inside the US Military Academy about the strategy of counterinsurgency as it has been used in Iraq and Afghanistan: is it effective? Is it worth the cost? How should the Army think about future roles and missions, and how best can it prepare future leaders at West Point for such a world of uncertainty? Colonel Cindy Jebb, PhD, will share some of those discussions with us, as well as describe West Point’s strong tradition of academic freedom. Colonel Jebb is Professor and Head of the Department of Social Sciences at West Point. She teaches courses in comparative politics, international security, cultural anthropology, terrorism and counterterrorism, and military officership. She was instrumental in establishing the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, and developing its leading terrorism and counterterrorism curriculum.
WALTER STAHR, Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man
Governor of and Senator from New York State and a strong opponent of the spread of slavery, Seward was a dominant figure in the early Republican Party and the leading contender for the party’s nomination in the election of 1860. Losing to Lincoln, he joined his “Team of Rivals” as Secretary of State, and (among other indispensable roles) was crucially important in keeping England from supporting the Confederacy in the Civil War. Then, surviving an attempt on his own life on the night of Lincoln’s assassination, he stayed on as Andrew Johnson’s Secretary of State, and negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia. Stahr is also the author of the leading biography of John Jay.
2012: THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION AND THE COST OF WAR
CHARLES RAPPLEYE, Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation and Constitution, and Superintendent of Finance from 1781-84, Morris was at one time considered the most powerful man in America next to George Washington. He extended his personal credit to pay soldiers and buy war supplies, was the first to use the “$” in official correspondence and proposed with his friend Gouverneur Morris (no relation) a decimal currency. He lived large and possibly corruptly, lost his fortune through land speculation, and spent years in debtors prison. Robert Morris explores one of the biggest personalities of the period, and one of the most important topics – how to pay for war – for any Commander in Chief. Rappleye is also author of the acclaimed Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution, which won the American Revolution Round Table Book Prize and the George Washington Book Prize.
LOUSE V. NORTH, JANET V. WEDGE AND LANDA M. FREEMAN, In the Words of Women—The Revolutionary War and the Birth of a Nation, 1765-1799
In their own words, people living through the Revolution tell of their harrowing experiences: seeing their houses and livelihoods seized by soldiers, children shot at, fields burned and iron pots stolen, their loyalties tested. The writers also speak of the ordinary details of daily life. We hear women aspiring to have a voice in public life, or thoughts on political philosophy; and those living purely in the domestic sphere. We hear from the privileged and the not; the free and the bond; the patriot, the reluctant patriot, and the loyalist. We see what it does to a population to live under occupation. We hear citizens bearing witness to the collateral damage from war. The authors also wrote and edited the Selected Letters of John Jay and Sarah Livingston Jay.
2011: PRESIDENTIAL POWER AND ITS LIMITS
NIGEL HAMILTION, American Caesars: Lives of the Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush
One of Britain’s most distinguished biographers, Hamilton uses the template of Suetonius’s Twelve Caesars to examine our twelve postwar American Presidents. In thumbnail sketches, unapologetically opinionated, he treats each man’s background, family life, and presidency. Taking an international perspective, he treats each man’s reputation around the world and role as leader of the American “Empire.” And with the range of perspectives from recent to more distant past, he considers the evolution of each man’s reputation. Recipient of the Whitbread Prize for Biography and the Templar Medal for Military History, and author of numerous other books, Hamilton became the first professor of biography in Britain. He currently lives in the United States, where he is senior fellow at the McCormack Graduate School, University of Massachusetts, Boston.
ANNETTE GORDON-REED, Andrew Jackson: The American Presidents Series: The 17th President, 1865-1869
Andrew Johnson succeeded to the Presidency on Lincoln’s assassination, just six weeks after becoming Vice President. He had been the most prominent War Democrat in the Senate; Lincoln was running on a National Union Party ticket. He inherited an impossible task: to follow in the steps of a martyr; heal a divided country; and lead a radical Congress with which he was deeply out of sympathy. The first of our Presidents to be impeached, he was acquitted by one vote. Gordon-Reed – the recipient of a 2010 MacArthur Fellowship, National Humanities Medal, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award – was recognized for dramatically changing the course of Jefferson scholarship, culminating in her 2008 book The Hemingses of Monticello: an American Family. She joined Harvard faculty in July 2010 with joint appointments in the Law School, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
JEFF SHESOL, Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court
In 1937, with nearly all of his New Deal being overturned by the Supreme Court, FDR proposed a law giving the President the power to appoint an additional Justice for each sitting one over the age of 70. The legislation created an absolute uproar and was defeated, giving FDR the greatest setback of his political life. Then, nearly simultaneously, the voting majority of the Court changed and FDR’s domestic agenda seemed no longer to be at risk. A founding partner of West Wing Writers, a speechwriting and strategy firm, Shesol is also author of Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy and the Feud That Defined a Decade. He has been a speechwriter for President Clinton, Rhodes Scholar, cartoonist as a Brown undergraduate and Fellow in American Studies at Princeton; he lives in Washington, DC. Supreme Power has been named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and a New Yorker Magazine Reviewers’ Favorite Book of 2010.
2010: THROUGH THE EYES OF THREE GENERATIONS OF JAYS
BARNET SCHECTER, The Devil’s Own Work: The Civil War Draft Riots and the Fight to Reconstruct America
Nine days after Gettysburg and six months after the Emancipation Proclamation, the New York draft riots were the largest insurrection in U.S. history apart from the Civil War itself. They laid bare the explosive divisions between ethnic groups in fast-growing New York, and in four violent days nearly destroyed the city. John Jay II was a leading New York Republican, and corresponded closely with the government in Washington about the causes of the riots, and the Federal government’s options for responding to the violence. Schecter, a Manhattan-based writer and historian, was an advisor for the New York Historical Society’s exhibit Lincoln and New York and a contributor to the companion volume. He is a fellow of the New York Academy of History.
GRAHAM RUSSELL GAO HODGES, David Ruggles: A Radical Black Abolitionist and the Underground Railroad in New York City
David Ruggles was of one of the most heroic figures of the early abolitionist movement in America, involved in securing freedom for more than 600 former slaves, including Frederick Douglass. A bookstore owner and publisher in New York City, he was an essential link between disparate anti-slavery groups, and a force for radicalizing some of those groups. William Jay supported his work in several crucial ways, including helping to finance his investigation of the kidnapping of Rye resident Peter Lee (a free man), and prosecuting a Portuguese sea captain whom Ruggles had had arrested for slave trading. Hodges is George Dorland Langdon Jr. Professor of History and Africana Studies at Colgate University. He is author or editor of more than a dozen books, including Root and Branch: African Americans in New York and East Jersey, 1613-1863.
2009: A NEW LOOK AT THREE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS
DAVID S. REYNOLDS, Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson
Andrew Jackson is often identified with the period between the end of the Federalists and the beginning of the Civil War – but what else happened then? Multiple reform movements, Trail of Tears, telegraph, Erie Canal, immigration, Manifest Destiny, Mormonism and phrenology, Harriet Tubman, just to begin….Bancroft Prizewinning author David Reynolds is Distinguished Professor of English and American Studies at the Graduate School of the City University of New York; he is also the author of (among other books) John Brown, Abolitionist and Walt Whitman’s America.
PHILIP KUNHARDT, Looking for Lincoln: the Making of an American Icon
Philip, along with co-authors Peter Kunhardt and Peter Kunhardt, Jr., draws on the vast archive of the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation and other sources to trace the posthumous growth of the legend of Lincoln, immediately following his assassination, through Reconstruction and its abandonment, up to the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in 1922. The book, in addition to making a unique contribution, will be a companion to a PBS film to be released on February 11, the eve of the bicentennial day of Lincoln’s birth. Kunhardt is currently a Bard Center Fellow at Bard College in Annandale, New York, where he teaches in the history department. For seventeen years he was a writer-producer at Kunhardt Productions, and wrote (among other works) “The American President.”
ANNETTE GORDON-REED, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
Gordon-Reed was one of the first American scholars to combine all the sources of authority – science, published and unpublished documents, oral history – to describe the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings. This book is an even more full treatment of that relationship, and the first full discussion of the lives of other members of the Hemings family, including descendants of Sally and (presumably) Jefferson; it won the 2008 National Book Award for nonfiction. Gordon-Reed is also author of other works on Hemings and Jefferson, co-author with Vernon Jordan of his memoir Vernon Can Read!, Professor at New York Law School and a member of the history faculty at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
2008: SLAVERY, ANTI-SLAVERY AND THE JAYS
David Gellman, Emancipating New York: The Politics of Slavery and Freedom 1777-1827
New York, the North’s largest slave state, finally began to abolish slavery in 1799. Professor Gellman’s book traces our state’s tortuous path to a gradual emancipation program, investigating debates such as whether slave owners should receive compensation for the loss of their property and the conditions under which freed men would possess the right to vote. At stake was the freedom of thousands, as well as the state’s political and economic future. The Jays are central figures in this story and in Professor Gellman’s new book project, “Liberty’s Legacy: The Jay Family and the Problem of American Freedom,” a biographical study of how slavery and race shaped the lives and worldviews of John Jay, his predecessors, and descendants.
Robert P. Forbes, The Missouri Compromise and Its Aftermath: Slavery and the Meaning of America
Before the Missouri debates, few Americans realized how deeply and urgently the destiny of the nation was intertwined with the problem of slavery. The Missouri Compromise crystallized the division of the country into slave and free states, in “a way that would soon seem inevitable, but was a bitter and profound departure from earlier policy.” Its repeal in 1854 led to the Dred Scott decision, the Kansas-Nebraska Act and Bleeding Kansas, and the Civil War. Professor Forbes gives special attention to the story of Rufus King, New York Senator, voice for the fading Revolutionary moral opposition to slavery, and friend and Federalist contemporary of John Jay.
Fergus Bordewich, Washington: The Making of the American Capital
Bordewich’s new book tells how the politics of slavery, unbridled land speculation, and irrepressible idealism shaped the creation of the nation’s capital in the 1790s. Its cast of characters includes George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, the financier Robert Morris, Pierre L’Enfant, and many other figures whose roles in the development of Washington, DC, have never before been fully told. Bordewich is also the author of Bound for Canaan, a history of the Underground Railroad; he
will provide insights into the Jays’ activities in support of radical anti-slavery activists in the Hudson Valley.
2007: TWO EVENINGS WITH JOHN PAUL JONES
Joseph F. Callo, John Paul Jones
Joseph F. Callo is a retired Rear Admiral and naval historian, U.S. Editor of Who’s Who in Naval History and Naval History magazine’s 1998 Author of the Year. His John Paul Jones: America’s First Sea Warrior (Naval Institute Press, Annapolis) won the 2006 Samuel Eliot Morison award for excellence in naval literature: it offers a dynamic appraisal of Jones’s eventful life and his contributions to the American navy and the young country.
Anne L. Poulet, Jean-Antoine Houdon
Anne L. Poulet is the Director of the Frick Collection in New York City. She has had an illustrious career as an author, editor and curator, for many years at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She was Guest Curator of the exhibition: Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741 – 1828): Sculptor of the Enlightenment at the National Gallery, in Washington D.C., the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Musee de Versailles in 2003/2004. Her exhibition catalogue, the definitive work on Houdon, offers the most current thinking on the man who sculpted many American patriots including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and John Paul Jones.
2006: AMERICANS IN PARIS
WILLIAM HOWARD ADAMS, The Paris Affairs of Gouverneur Morris
William Howard Adams is an independent scholar, the author of a number of books on the Early Republic and Thomas Jefferson, including the highly acclaimed Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and The Paris Years of Thomas Jefferson. His most recent book, Gouverneur Morris: An Independent Life, published by Yale University Press, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Mr. Adams served for sixteen years as a trustee of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation and has worked extensively on garden history as a Fellow of Dumbarton Oaks Research Library in Washington, D.C. His current work-in-progress is called Athens, Rome and the Founding Fathers: The Classics and the Founding of America.
STACY SCHIFF, Babes in the Woods: Benjamin Franklin and the First Americans in Paris
Stacy Schiff is the author of A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France and the Birth of America, Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov), which won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in biography; and Saint-Exupery, which was a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize. Ms. Schiff’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, and The Times Literary Supplement, among other publications. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Center for Scholar and Writers at the New York Public Library.
2005: John Jay: Husband, Diplomat, Lawyer
Landa Freeman, Isa North and Janet Wedge, “My Dearest Best of Friends”
A reading from The Selected Letters of John Jay and Sarah Livingston Jay, by its editors. This collection chronicles the personal lives of the Jays, in the tumultuous times during and after the American Revolution.
Walter B. Stahr: John Jay: A New View
Mr. Stahr, author of John Jay: Founding Father, the first full-length biography of John Jay in over sixty years, will speak about Jay’s life and importance. Walter Isaacson has called Mr. Stahr’s work a “wonderful book” which should “restore Jay’s place in the pantheon of our great Founding Fathers.”
RAY RAYMOND, Founding Diplomat: John Jay and Anglo-American Relations
A specialist in Anglo-American relations during the 18th and 20th centuries, Dr. Raymond is Political Officer of the British Consulate General, and teaches at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Dr. Raymond will suggest that John Jay is in fact America’s Founding Diplomat, and the progenitor of the pragmatic realistic tradition of American foreign policy.
2004: Founding Fathers, Founding Friends?
John P. Kaminski, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Professor Kaminski is a foremost scholar on the framing and adoption of the Constitution. He is director of the Center for the Study of the American Constitution at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Henry Wiencek, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Slavery
Mr. Wiencek’s recent book, An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America is the first biography to explore Washington’s engagement with American slavery. He is also the author of The Hairstons, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Walter Stahr, John Jay and John Adams
Mr. Stahr is an international lawyer, Jay expert and author of John Jay: Founding Father, published . by Hambledon Press in March 2005.
2003: Three Distinguished Scholars On the life and accomplishments of Founding Father John Jay
Frank Brecher, Ongoing Historical Controversies Concerning the Diplomatic Careers of John Jay and Robert Livingston
Although best known as the first Chief Justice of the United States, Jay’s greatest contributions may have been in diplomacy. His diplomatic career, as well as that of Robert Livingston, New York’s first Chancellor, will be discussed.
Walter Stahr, John Jay’s two terms as Governor of New York (1795–1801)
As New York’s second governor, Jay continued the formative influence he had had on the State’s government since 1777, when he helped draft its first constitution.
Matthew Minichillo, John Jay’s twenty-eight years of retirement spent here at Bedford
A doctoral student at Kent State University, Matthew Minichillo will speak on John Jay’s twenty-eight years of retirement spent here at Bedford. Jay’s involvement in the abolition of slavery will be examined.