David Library News

Sol Feinstone Collection Manuscripts on Exhibit

Seven manuscripts from the Sol Feinstone Collection of the David Library are included in the National Constitution Center exhibition, “Hamilton: the Constitutional Clashes That Shaped a Nation,” now on display through December 31.  The exhibition highlights the competing ideas of Alexander Hamilton and his legendary rivals, specifically his fraught relationships with the other Founders. Among the items that DLAR is loaning to the NCC in Philadelphia is a letter from Hamilton to James McHenry that makes no bones about Hamilton’s poor opinion of John Adams, and a letter from Adams to Benjamin Rush that refers to Hamilton as “a bastard brat of a Scotch Pedler.”

New Trustee

Tina Packer has joined the Board of Trustees of the David Library of the American Revolution. Packer is Co-Founder and Founding Artistic Director of Shakespeare & Company, the classical repertory theatre that has been based in Lenox, Massachusetts since 1980. She brings to DLAR her years of experience and collaboration with a vast array of non-profit organizations, government institutions and institutes of higher education.

Recent Lectures

During the 2017-2018 academic year, the David Library of the American Revolution presented a range of lectures by leading scholars and authors about a range of subjects pertaining to the American Revolution.  The popular David Library lectures are admission-free and presented in Stone Hall on the Library campus in Washington Crossing.

The fall 2017 season was launched by local historian Larry Kidder, author of Crossroads of the Revolution: Trenton 1774-1783.  His lecture, “’So Necessary a Post… So Much a Thoroughfare’: Trenton in the American Revolution,” examined the stress placed on the city of Trenton because of its location on the main road connecting New England and the Southern colonies and the constant presence of Washington’s army in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.  Dean Snow (left image), author of the acclaimed 1777: Tipping Point at Saratoga, presented a lecture called "The People of 1777 Saratoga,” in which he offered an anthropologist’s perspective. The complicated intimacy between slaves and the three early First Ladies who were slave owners (Martha Washington, Martha Jefferson and Dolley Madison) was considered by Marie Jenkins Schwartz (right Image) in a lecture based on her book, Ties That Bound: Founding First Ladies and Slaves.

James E. Lewis, Jr., author of the book The Burr Conspiracy: Uncovering the Story of an Early American Scandal, offered theories on what former Vice President Aaron Burr might have been up to in the years following the Alexander Hamilton duel when he traveled through the Trans-Appalachian West.  Russell Shorto (Left Image: Russell Shorto at the book signing following his lecture) demonstrated that “freedom” meant different things to different people who participated in the American Revolution when he spoke about his book, Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom, and Jonathan Israel, author of The Expanding Blaze: How the American Revolution Ignited the World, 1775-1848,  explained how the American Revolution was global inspiration and formative agent.

The spring 2018 series got off to a “judicious” start with a talk about the first important Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by Joel Richard Paul, author of Without Precedent:  How the American Revolution Shaped Chief Justice John Marshall and the Supreme Court.  The life of the Revolutionary orator Patrick Henry was discussed by Jon Kukla (below right image), author of Patrick Henry: Champion of Liberty.  Recent David Library Fellow Craig Bruce Smith returned to lecture about the leadership of George Washington and how the ideals and sense of “honor” in the Continental Army developed over the course of the Revolution.  Smith is the author of American Honor: The Creation of the Nation's Ideals During the Revolutionary Era.  Political Scientist Jett B. Conner compared the political ideas of John Adams and Thomas Paine as represented in the pamphlets each wrote to build public support for their differing views of democracy.  Conner is the author of John Adams vs Thomas Paine: Rival Plans for the Early Republic

Another recent David Library Fellow, Garry Wheeler Stone, co-author (with Mark Edward Lender) of Fatal Sunday: George Washington, the Monmouth Campaign, and the Politics of Battle, demonstrated in a talk he called, “Monmouth: the Battle that Silenced Washington's Critics,” that  without his victory at Monmouth, Washington might have been replaced as the American Commander-in-Chief. 

The series concluded with Mary V. Thompson (below left image), Research Historian of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association at Mount Vernon.  Her lecture, “’In a Private Manner, Without Parade or Funeral Oration’:  The Funeral George Washington Wanted, But Didn’t Get,” studied Washington’s wishes for his own funeral as stated in his last will and testament, written in the summer of 1799, as opposed to the very different funeral that occurred when he died five months later.  

Audiences for David Library come from far and wide to enjoy these opportunities to engage with historians and fellow history lovers.