David Library Spring 2014 Lecture Series

An interesting lecture series, covering military history, Jeffersonian thought, one very colorful historical character, and material culture, has been planned for this spring at the David Library.


Larry KidderThursday, March 20 at 7:30: “New Jersey Militiamen and Their Families at War: ‘A People Harassed and Exhausted,’” a lecture by Larry Kidder. Larry Kidder is the author of the new book about the First Hunterdon Militia Regiment of New Jersey, A People Harassed and Exhausted. He explains, “During the colonial period and then the American Revolution, by law, every man between the ages of 16 and 50 in New Jersey was required to enroll in his local militia company. These companies were expected to be a local, emergency defense force, but the nature of the Revolution in New Jersey radically expanded the scope of their duties. As a result, every man, and his family, faced the simultaneous requirements to keep a farm or business going while men of the family were frequently ordered to spend periods of time, often at critical points in the farming year, away from home to defend various parts of the state.” In his lecture, Kidder will discuss the “disproportionate burden” that fell on the shoulders of New Jersey citizens who supported the Revolution.

John RagostaThursday, April 10 at 7:30: “Thomas Jefferson and the Meaning of Religious Freedom,” a lecture by John Ragosta, Ph. D., J. D. John Ragosta is a resident fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and the author of Religious Freedom: Jefferson’s Legacy, America’s Creed and Wellspring of Liberty: How Virginia’s Religious Dissenters Helped to Win the American Revolution & Secured Religious Liberty. Thomas Jefferson and his Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom stood at the center of our understanding of religious liberty and the First Amendment for well over a century. The expansive Jeffersonian vision, including his insistence that political freedom and free thought would be at risk without separation of church and state, enjoyed almost total support among jurists and historians until Justice William Rehnquist called this vision '"demonstrably incorrect" history in a 1985 dissent. That siren call has been taken up by a bevy of judges and academics who are eager to encourage renewed government involvement in religion. Ragosta accepts the challenge posed by Rehnquist: Should Jefferson stand at the center of our understanding of religious freedom? If so, what does he teach? Beginning with a careful analysis of Jefferson’s own religious beliefs, Ragosta will demonstrate the centrality of the Jeffersonian vision of religious freedom in the early republic and his influence on the First Amendment. Bringing Jefferson into our time, this lecture will explain how the sage demanded a strict separation of church and state, but never sought a wholly secular public square.

James Corbett David Ph.DThursday, June 26 at 7:30: “Lord Dunmore: The Extraordinary Life of a Royal Governor in Revolutionary America,” a lecture by James Corbett David, Ph. D. Lord Dunmore, the last Royal Governor of Virginia, was a Scots aristocrat who, even with a family history of treason, managed to obtain a commission in the British army, a seat in the House of Lords, and three executive appointments in the American colonies. He was an unusual figure, deeply invested in the imperial system but quick to break with convention. David is the author of Dunmore's New World: The Extraordinary Life of a Royal Governor in Revolutionary America--With Jacobites, Counterfeiters, Land Schemes, Shipwrecks, Scalping, Indian Politics, Runaway Slaves and Two Illegal Royal Weddings, a new book researched in part during the author’s Fellowship at the David Library of the American Revolution. (This lecture has been rescheduled from its earlier announced date of May 1.)

Zara AnishanslinSunday, June 1 at 3:00: “Devils, Cannibals, and the Ghost of General Wolfe: The Visual and the Material Culture of the Violent and the Macabre in the American Revolution,” a lecture by Zara Anishanslin. Ph. D. The American Revolution lived out its otherworldly happenings, and some of its most sensational atrocities, on the page rather than on the street or battlefield—in the form of visual and print culture. But the supernatural and the gruesome dramatized in such images and texts reflected the very real importance of the macabre and the violent in the Revolution; a gruesome violence perhaps best expressed in material culture. This lecture looks at the material and visual culture Americans produced that share motifs of the macabre, spectral, and gruesome, to understand the crucial role production—here viewed through the lens of violence and emotion—played in shaping the Revolution and its political culture. It complements scholarship done on sensibility and passion in the revolutionary era, while also adding to work on the crucial role of violence—off and on the battlefield, by women and men, civilians and military—in the imperial crises and war itself. Anishanslin is Assistant Professor of History at the College of Staten Island/City University of New York, and Co-Chair of the Seminar in Early American History and Culture at Columbia University.

Lectures at the David Library are admission free and open to the public. They are held in the Feinstone Conference Center on the Library’s campus, 1201 River Road, Washington Crossing. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made by calling 215-493-6776 ext. 100 or sending an email to rsvp@dlar.org. The Spring 2014 Lecture Series at the David Library of the American Revolution is made possible in part by a grant from the County of Bucks.

In Partnership with the Delaware River Greenway Partnership

Delaware River Greenway Partnership (DRGP) is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 that works to bring individuals, communities, businesses, recreational users and all levels of government together to promote and protect a continuous corridor of natural and cultural resources along the Delaware River and its tributaries. For more information, visit www.delrivgreenway.org.

The David Library is joining with the DRGP to co-present two lectures:

Tuesday, March 4 at 7:30: “American Indian Life During Colonial Times: What the Archaeology of the Delaware Valley Tells Us,” a lecture by R. Michael Stewart. R. Michael Stewart currently teaches in the Department of Anthropology at Temple University, and maintains ongoing field projects throughout the Delaware Valley.

Tuesday, April 22 at 7:30: “Three Centuries of Earth Day on the Delaware River,” a lecture by Bruce Stutz. Bruce Stutz is a writer, editor and lecturer on science, environment, and natural history. His books include Natural Lives, Modern Times, People and Places of the Delaware River.


In Partnership with the Friends of the Delaware Canal

The Friends of the Delaware Canal is an independent, non-profit organization working to restore, preserve, and improve the Delaware Canal and its surroundings. For more information, visit www.fodc.org. The David Library is pleased to co-present with the Friends of the Delaware Canal a presentation by Herman Mihalich, co-founder and CEO of Dad’s Hat Pennyslvania Rye Whiskey on Tuesday, May 13 at 7:30 PM in Stone Hall at the David Library.

Dad's HatWe've all heard stories about how much canallers liked their whiskey, how the men who built the canals were given rations of whiskey each day, and how canal boatmen got into fist fights at locks because they were two sheets to the wind. Almost certainly these stories have gotten exaggerated over the years, but, undoubtedly, whiskey was a part of the life on the canals. The popularity of rye whiskey has cycled since canal days with its lowest point being after Prohibition, but today rye whiskey is back in fashion. Specifically, small batch rye whiskey made with natural ingredients and traditional methods. Small batch "Rye the Right Way" is now being made at a new distillery in the historic Grundy Mill in Bristol Borough, right along the Delaware Canal here in Bucks County. Herman Mihalich and John Cooper founded Mountain Laurel Spirits, LLC in 2010 and have been producing Dad's Hat Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey with great success ever since. Mihalich will share the story of how he made his way from chemical engineering to distilling at our May program. His presentation will illustrate the roles that whiskey played in America's history from a lucrative by-product of colonial mills to the reason for a rebellion and Prohibition. His small batch process will be explained: how grain grown in Lancaster, Pennsylvania is processed and fermented, and then the alcohol distilled and aged. He'll also reveal why his rye came to be called "Dad's Hat." After the program, sipping samples of two different Dad's Hat rye whiskeys will be offered in the Rose Gallery.

These lectures will be presented admission free in the Feinstone Conference Center at the David Library. Reservations can be made by calling 215-493-6776 ext. 100 or emailing rsvp@dlar.org.