Lectures & Events

Join Us for “An Evening With Rick Atkinson” May 31

In partnership with our neighbors, The Friends of Washington Crossing Historic Park, the David Library is excited to present the distinguished military historian Rick Atkinson on Friday, May 31, at 7:30 PM at the Washington Crossing Historic Park Visitor’s Center for a lecture, Q&A, and signing of his new book, The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777. To purchase tickets, visit

bit.ly/rickatkinson

Proceeds from the event will benefit both DLAR and the Friends of WCHP.  The British Are Coming is Atkinson's first book on the American Revolution. He won the Pulitzer Prize for An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943.

Exhibition of Deed Books

The David Library is delighted to host an exhibition of historic deed books recently conserved by the Bucks County Recorder of Deeds Office.  The books will be on display in the Library from 11 AM to 4PM on June 5 and June 7, from 10 AM to 3 PM on June 6, and from 10AM to 5PM on June 8.  On Tuesday, June 4 at 6:30 PM, please join us in the Rose Gallery at the David Library for a reception to celebrate the conservation project, and to hear a presentation about it by Robin Robinson, Bucks County Recorder of Deeds.  Drop in at any of the posted times to see the display in the Library, but please RSVP for the reception on June 4 by calling 215.493.6776 ext. 100. The Bucks County deed books contain property records dating back to William Penn.  The County has undertaken a comprehensive project to preserve these priceless records of pre-Revolutionary and Revolutionary era Bucks County.

 

Schedule of David Library Lectures

The David Library of the American Revolution presents free lectures to illuminate the story of America in its founding era.  Registration is required: RSVP by calling 215.493.6776 x 100 or email rsvp@dlar.org.  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.  

Tuesday, May 14 at 7:30 PM – Larry Kidder: "George Washington’s Ten Crucial Days.” Between December 25, 1776 and January 3, 1777, George Washington faced a number of critical decisions, and the actions he formulated would play a major role in either bringing the American Revolution to a crushing defeat or reviving hopes for its eventual success. This illustrated talk by the author of Ten Crucial Days: Washington’s Vision for Victory Unfolds examines those decisions, demonstrating how the battles at Trenton and Princeton reversed the despair during the “times that tried men’s souls” on the American side and the confidence in imminent victory on the British side.

Thursday, June 13 at 7:30 PM – Mark Lender: “The Usual Suspects: General Washington, His Critics, and the Conway Cabal Reconsidered.” Over late 1777 and early 1778, senior patriot military officers—most notably major generals Thomas Mifflin, Thomas Conway, and Horatio Gates, ostensibly launched an effort to limit Washington’s control of the Continental Army, if not to actually replace him with Gates. The episode has come down to us as the “Conway Cabal.” Since the 1941 publication of Bernhard Knollenberg’s Washington and the Revolution, however, most modern scholarship has discounted the existence of any serious “cabal,” writing off the matter as unfounded fears of conspiracy.  The author of the new book Cabal! The Plot Against General Washington differs sharply from this view, however, arguing that the cabal was not only real, but that it posed a genuine threat to Washington’s command.

Tuesday, June 25  at 7:30 PM – Aaron Sullivan: “Occupied Philadelphia and the Disaffected of Revolutionary America.”  When the British Army occupied Philadelphia in 1777 it was met by friends and enemies, Loyalists and Patriots, and by a great many other people who didn’t fit comfortably into either of those categories. Aaron Sullivan, author of the new book, The Disaffected: Britain’s Occupation of Philadelphia During the American Revolution, will recount this historical moment with a special focus on these “other people” who found themselves caught between the British occupation and the Continental siege of America’s nascent capital. Considering the experiences of neutrals, pacifists, slaves, and the many weary Americans whose enthusiasm for revolution had begun to fade, the lecture will explore some of the darker facets of Revolutionary ideology and Britain’s inability to win the war for hearts and minds.

Wednesday, July 24 at 7:30 PM – Joseph Adelman: “Revolution in the News.” Historians have long recognized the influence of printed materials such as newspapers and broadsides in the American Revolution. What they have overlooked, however, is the role of the printers who produced those materials. Drawing on research from his new book, Revolutionary Networks: The Business and Politics of Printing the News, 1763-1789, Professor Adelman will discuss how these men and women navigated commercial and political connections to directly shape Revolutionary political ideology and mass mobilization. An assistant professor of history at Framingham State University and assistant editor for digital initiatives at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Adelman conducted research for this project as a David Library Fellow in 2006.

Sunday, August 4 at 3:00 PM – George Boudreau: "Remembering Material Worlds: The Stuff and Spaces of Interpreting Early America.” Physical objects can expand our comprehension of how people lived, worked, and thought during the colonial and early national periods. George Boudreau, Senior Research Associate at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and a three-time David Library Fellow, is co-editor of A Material World: Culture, Society, and the Life of Things in Early Anglo-America, a new volume of essays on material culture by leading scholars from various disciplines.  In his lecture, he will discuss the global movement of commodities, the power of memory objects, and how possessions indicated personal power in early America.

Thursday, August 8 at 7:30 PM – Mary V. Thompson: “’The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret’: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.” George Washington has been the subject of thousands of books since his death in 1799, but very few have touched the role that slavery played in his life.  Even fewer have dealt with the 600 to 700 enslaved people whose lives were controlled by him.  Mary V. Thompson, historian at Mount Vernon, will examine both of these issues, and reveal a number of little-known and difficult stories.

Friday, September 13 at 7:30 PM   - Matthew Costello: “The Founding Generation and their Spirits:  How Consumption Shaped American Politics and the Presidency.” The Senior Historian of the White House Historical Association will describe how alcoholic beverages played a pivotal role in the founding of the United States and the defining of its institutions. Beer, hard cider, wine, and champagne were used in a variety of ways for different reasons -- even on Election Day to bolster voter turnout. In colonial taverns, intoxicants provided “liquid courage” to debate independence, and during the Revolutionary War, soldiers were provided with rations of alcohol to maintain morale. President Washington and his successors were shaped by these patterns of consumption, and their experiences molded presidential hospitality during the Early Republic.

Tuesday, September 24 at 7:30 PM  - Paul Finkelman: “Supreme Injustice:  The Proslavery Jurisprudence of John Marshall and the Legacy of the American Revolution.” We’ll observe the 264th anniversary of the birth of John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, with a talk by Paul Finkelman, President of Gratz College, and author of Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court. John Marshall was a Young Man of the Revolution, serving for most of the war in a number of states, rising to the rank a captain under Washington’s command.  As the problem of slavery bedeviled the nation, Marshall aggressively acquired hundreds of slaves along with more than 200,000 acres of land.  This lecture explores how Marshall’s commitment to slavery, his deep hostility to free blacks, and his lifelong investment in slaves dovetailed with a jurisprudence (which has been mostly unexplored) that was surprisingly and sometimes even shockingly proslavery.

Tuesday, October 10 at 7:30 PM – Sara Georgini: “The Providence of John and Abigail Adams.” Reflecting on his past, President John Adams mused that it was religion that shaped his family’s fortunes and young America’s future. Globetrotters who chronicled their religious journeys extensively, John and wife Abigail developed a cosmopolitan Christianity that blended discovery and criticism, faith and doubt. Sara Georgini, series editor for The Papers of John Adams at the Massachusetts Historical Society and author of Household Gods: The Religious Lives of the Adams Family, will demonstrate how pivotal Christianity was in shaping the family life of the Adamses as America formed as a nation.

Tuesday, October 22 at 7:30 PM – John Gilbert McCurdy: “Quartering the British Army in Revolutionary America.” In the decades before the Revolution, British soldiers were a common sight in America. They lived in private houses in Trenton, marched up Broadway in New York, and came to blows in Boston. What was it like to live in this world? Drawing on his new book, Quarters: The Accommodation of the British Army and the Coming of the American Revolution, John Gilbert McCurdy will explain how the colonists made room for redcoats by reimagining places like home, city, and empire. They insisted on a right to privacy in their houses and civilian control of troops stationed in their cities, both of which they achieved through the Quartering Act. Professor McCurdy will also explore how protests by the Sons of Liberty and events like the Boston Massacre caused the civilian-martial comity to unravel.

Co-Presentation With the Delaware Greenway Partnership

Thursday, October 17 at 7:30 PM - Robert McCracken Peck: “Ordering the Cosmos: Charles Willson Peale and the Philadelphia Museum.” In 1790, Charles Willson Peale announced to the citizens of Philadelphia that he was prepared to open a museum of "objects of natural history and things useful and curious" which he hoped might one day be recognized as a cultural and scientific repository for the nation.  It was to represent the culmination of a long and distinguished career in art and science that made Peale one of the most remarkably versatile figures of his age.  Peale's Philadelphia Museum, which flourished well into the 19th century, began its focus on the flora and fauna of the Delaware Valley, but quickly expanded to include other parts of the country and ultimately objects from around the world.   It set standards for museums that are still applicable today.  Using images of Peale's remarkable collections of paintings and artifacts, naturalist and historian Robert Peck will discuss Peale's seminal contributions to American art and science and place his museum in its broader cultural, artistic and scientific context.