Spring 2018 Lecture Series

The David Library of the American Revolution is excited to present six lectures this spring by leading scholars.  David Library Lectures are admission free, but registration is required for each one. Call 215.493.6776 x 100 or email rsvp@dlar.org to reserve your seat(s). Lectures are held in the Feinstone Conference Center at the David Library of the American Revolution, 1201 River Road (Rt. 32), Washington Crossing, PA 18977.  

Friday, March 9 at 7:30 PM – Joel Richard Paul: “Without Precedent:  How the American Revolution Shaped Chief Justice John Marshall and the Supreme Court.”  No member of America’s Founding Generation had a greater impact on the Constitution and the Supreme Court than John Marshall, and few did more to preserve the delicate unity of the fledgling United States. From the nation’s founding in 1776, and for the next forty years, Marshall was at the center of every political battle. As Chief Justice of United States, he established the independence of the Judiciary and the supremacy of the federal Constitution and courts. As the leading Federalist in Virginia, he rivaled his cousin Thomas Jefferson in political influence. As a diplomat and Secretary of State, he defended American sovereignty.  The author of the new biography, Without Precedent:  Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times, will explain how a rough-cut Virginia frontiersman with little formal education invented himself as a statesman, and then shaped America’s future as he held together the Supreme Court, the Constitution, and the country itself.


Thursday, March 22 at 7:30 PM – Jon Kukla: “Patrick Henry: ‘His Eloquence is the Smallest Part of His Merit.’”  Celebrated by Lord Byron as "The forest-born Demosthenes" and known to generations of Americans for his oratory and especially his “Liberty or Death” speech, Patrick Henry was much more than a stirring public speaker. As governor, legislator, lawyer, and statesman, his leadership in the coming of independence and the founding of the republic (from the 1760s through the 1790s) has long been overshadowed by his legendary eloquence. Jon Kukla’s book, Patrick Henry: Champion of Liberty, is a finalist this year for the coveted George Washington Prize for best new work on Early American history.  His earlier books are A Wilderness So Immense: The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of America, and Mr. Jefferson’s Women.   

Saturday, April 21 at 7:30 PM – Craig Bruce Smith: “’Gentlemen Soldiers’: Honor, George Washington, and the Continental Army.” Launching his new book, American Honor: The Creation of the Nation's Ideals During the Revolutionary Era, Craig Bruce Smith, Assistant Professor of History at William Woods University, returns to the David Library, where he was recently a Fellow, to give a lecture that will examine the ethics of the Revolutionary War and Americans’ attention to maintaining moral superiority. This talk will explore the leadership of George Washington and the ideals of the Continental Army as they developed over the course of the war, and will present an expanding concept of what it meant to be honorable through service during the American Revolution.

Sunday, May 6 at 3:00 PM – Jett B. Conner: “Thomas Paine and John Adams: Rediscovering the Political Thought of Revolutionary America.”  Can the American people, acting in their sovereign capacity, be trusted to produce good government and guard against the abuses of power?  Thomas Paine thought so, and promoted government by the people in his famous pamphlet “Common Sense.” John Adams, in his pamphlet, “Thoughts on Governments,” made a case for strong internal governmental controls such as the separation of powers, internal checks and balances and an independent judiciary.  Are such controls indispensable for protecting citizens against overbearing majorities in its democracy? This lecture by the author of John Adams vs Thomas Paine: Rival Plans for the Early Republic will examine these fundamental questions of political thought, and the arguments put forward by Adams and Paine in their respective pamphlets. 

Tuesday, May 22 at 7:30 PM – Garry Wheeler Stone: “Monmouth: the Battle that Silenced Washington's Critics." Garry Wheeler Stone, a recent Fellow of the David Library of the American Revolution, is retired as Regional Historian for the State Park Service and Historian for the Monmouth Battlefield State Park with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.  He is the co-author (with Mark Edward Lender) of Fatal Sunday: George Washington, the Monmouth Campaign, and the Politics of Battle, the book James Kirby Martin called “a model of military history.”  This illustrated lecture will demonstrate that without the victory at Monmouth, George Washington might have been replaced as the American Commander-in-Chief. 

Wednesday, June 13 at 7:30 PM – Mary V. Thompson:  “’In a Private Manner, Without Parade or Funeral Oration’:  The Funeral George Washington Wanted, But Didn’t Get.” In his last will and testament, written in the summer of 1799, George Washington took care to note that he wanted a simple, private funeral, much like others in the extended Washington household had had over the years.  He died about five months after writing the will, and what he got in the way of a funeral was something altogether different.  Mary V. Thompson is the Research Historian of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.  She is the author of “In the Hands of a Good Providence”:  Religion in the Life of George Washington, and A Short Biography of Martha Washington.

Other Events at the David Library

Tuesday, March 13 at 7:30 PM – “The Delaware Canal According to Will and Susan” – A Friends of the Delaware Canal event at the David Library.  No reservations required.  For more information, visit www.fodc.org.  Will Rivinus first walked the entire length of the Delaware Canal in 1963.  Susan Taylor did her first end-to-end hike in 1991.   Between the two, they have accumulated 82 years’ worth of knowledge and tales about the waterway and its surroundings.  They’ve taken tons of pictures too, many of which they will show as they discuss many aspects of the canal that runs right through the David Library property. 
Sunday, April 29 at 3:00 PM – The Annual Laura Prickett Lecture of the Lower Makefield Historical Society.  In collaboration with the Lower Makefield Historical Society, the David Library will co-present a lecture by barn and house historian Gregory Huber, author of The Historic Barns of Southeastern Pennsylvania: Architecture & Preservation, Built 1750–1900. Reservations should be made via the David Library, by calling 215.493.6776 ext. 100, or by sending an email to rsvp@dlar.org.