Friends of John Jay Homestead is proud to sponsor two lecture series.

The Scholars Lectures are held usually in the winter, usually in a series of three talks on a theme showcasing the history that can be told through the Jays and their house. The series is underwritten by a Scholars Lecture Committee. Click here for names of current Committee members and information on how to join the Committee.

2018 Scholars Lecture Series Invitation

Click here for previous years’ offerings.

The Founders Lecture is an annual members-only talk, usually held in the fall. Begun in 2004, it was sponsored by the Goodhue family, and named for Mary B Goodhue, a New York State legislator and long-time supporter of the Homestead. Beginning in 2014, the lecture has been known as the Founders Lecture, and is sponsored by Michaela and Skip Beitzel. Click here for previous years’ offerings.

For a list of all speakers, Click here.

Past Lectures


2018 Scholars Lecture Series: WAYS OF BEING A HERO

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Nathaniel Philbrick, Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution

Philbrick gives a challenging and sympathetic interpretation of the relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold, who was a hero, brilliant general and close Washington confidant before he became a traitor. Valiant Ambition has won the George Washington Book Prize.

Listen to the lecture below.




Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Hugh B. Price, This African-American Life: A Memoir

Price traces his descent from soldiers at Valley Forge, enslaved people,  songwriters and inventors; and his own dramatic story, from boyhood in segregated Washington, D.C., to positions as an editorial writer for The New York Times, head of production at WNET/Thirteen, Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation, and President and CEO of the National Urban League.

Listen to the lecture below.


Thursday, January 11, 2018
Russell Shorto, Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom

Shorto tells a story of the American Revolution through six very different lives: British, African, Seneca, colonial; men and women; prominent and obscure.  A master in the field of “narrative history,” he is also the author of six other award-winning books, including The Island at the Center of the World; and a contributing writer at The New York Times  Magazine.

Listen to the lecture below.


2017 Founders Lecture: Albie Sachs in Conversation with Akhil Reed Amar – The Making of the South African Constitution

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Albie Sachs is a human rights activist from South Africa; leader of the African National Congress in exile;
co-author of the South African Constitution; and one of the original Judges on the Constitutional Court, appointed by President Mandela.
Akhil Reed Amar is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, where he teaches constitutional law in the College and the Law School and where he won the DeVane Medal, Yale’s highest award for teaching excellence.


Listen to the lecture below.





2017 Scholars Lecture Series: GUIDANCE FOR A NEW PRESIDENT

Tuesday, January 24, 2017
James Traub, John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit

Traub is author of six books and a writer for, The New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Yorker Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Atlantic Magazine,   National Review and Foreign Affairs. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Listen to the lecture below.



Thursday, March 9, 2017
Akhil Reed Amar, New York and the U.S. Constitution

Amar is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale, where he teaches constitutional law in the  College and the Law School and where he won the DeVane Medal, Yale’s highest award for teaching excellence.  After clerking for then Judge (now Justice) Stephen Breyer, Amar joined the Yale faculty at the age of 26.  His work has won awards from both the American Bar  Association and the Federalist Society, and he has been favorably cited by Supreme Court justices across the spectrum in more than 30 cases.  In February he received the American Bar Foundation’s Outstanding Scholar Award.

Listen to the lecture below.


Monday, May 1, 2017
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.

Listen to the lecture below.



2016 Scholars Lecture Series: TELLING STORIES OF WAR

Thursday, January 21, 2016
Darden Smith and Mary Judd, SongwritingWith:Soldiers—the Civil War Diaries of Our Time
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.

See the lecture on YouTube.


Thursday, February 18, 2016
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.

Listen to the lecture below.



Tuesday, March 15, 2016
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.

Listen to the lecture below.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Rand Scholet, Alexander Hamilton: Washington’s Indispensable Partner
Rand Scholet, President of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society, will describe each period of George Washington’s public service, and discuss how seven key Founding Fathers contributed to his success:  in addition to Jay and Hamilton, the seven include Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Knox, and Madison.