Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War

Saturday, June 2, 5:00 pm
with Tony Horwitz

The Boston Globe’s “Best Nonfiction Book of 2011”, written by bestselling author Tony Horwitz, “Midnight Rising” talks of the beginnings of the American Civil War. Plotted in secret, launched in the dark, John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry was a pivotal moment in U.S. history. But few Americans know the true story of the men and women who launched a desperate strike at the slave-holding South. Brown, the descendant of New England Puritans, saw slavery as a sin against America’s founding principles. Unlike most abolitionists, he was willing to take up arms, and in 1859 he prepared for battle at a hideout in Maryland, joined by his teenage daughter, three of his sons, and a guerrilla band that included former slaves and a dashing spy. On October 17, the raiders seized Harper’s Ferry, stunning the nation and prompting a counterattack led by Robert E. Lee. After Brown’s capture, his defiant eloquence galvanized the North and appalled the South, which considered Brown a terrorist. The raid also helped elect Abraham Lincoln, who later began to fulfill Brown’s dream with the Emancipation Proclamation, a measure he called “a John Brown raid, on a gigantic scale.”

(Lecture to be held at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Main Street, Falmouth)

The Enigma Machine and the D-Day Invasion

Wednesday June 6, 7:00 pm
D-Day Deceptions: The Enigma Machine and its role at the Normandy Invasion
with Mark Schmidt

The story of the D-Day invasion and the Allied landing at Normandy—the mission that turned the tide of war in Europe— is one that has stirred the imagination of the Western world since 1944. But how were the leaders and troops able to successfully complete this mission, and how did the Allies break the code of the infamous Enigma code machine used by the Nazis? What devices were used to trick the Nazis and make this event successful?

Mark Schmidt, Executive Director of the Falmouth Historical Society and former director of the Museum of World War II, will talk regarding these aspects of the invasion, and how it will be remembered on the 68th anniversary of the Normandy landing.

(This lecture will be held at Highfield Hall, 56 Highfield Drive, Falmouth, MA)

In Search of Sacco and Vanzetti: Double Lives, Troubled Times and the Massachusetts Murder Case that Shook the World

June 8, 7:00 pm
with Susan Tejada

It was a bold and brutal crime‐‐robbery and murder in broad daylight on the streets of South Braintree, Massachusetts, in 1920. Tried for the crime and convicted, two Italian‐born laborers, anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, went to the electric chair in 1927, professing their innocence. Journalist Susan Tejada has spent years investigating the case, sifting through diaries and police reports and interviewing descendants of major figures. She discovers little‐known facts about Sacco, Vanzetti, and their supporters, and develops a tantalizing theory about how a doomed insider may have been coerced into helping professional criminals plan the heist.

(Lecture to be held at the First Congregational Church of Falmouth, 68 Main Street, Falmouth)

1812: The Navy’s War

June 13, 7:00 pm
with George Daughan

Prize‐winning author and historian George Daughan remembers the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 by examining the role of the fledgling United States Navy and how it was able to deliver victory against the larger and more powerful British fleet. This is the first account in more than a century of how the American navy rescued the fledgling nation and secured America’s future.

(Lecture to be held at the Cape Cod Conservatory, 60 Highfield Drive, Falmouth, MA)

Clash of Titans: Grant vs. Lee, 1864-1865

June 20, 6:30 pm
with Michael McNaught

From May 1864 until the war’s end eleven months later, U.S. Grant’s Army of the Potomac slugged it out with Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia across the fields and woods of central Virginia. Facing Grant’s overwhelming superiority in men and materiel, Lee again and again showed his tactical genius in the utilization of his diminishing resources.

(Lecture to be held at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Main Street, Falmouth)

Pox: An American History

Wednesday, June 27, 7:00 pm
with Michael Willrich

Award‐winning historian Michael Willrich offers a gripping chronicle of how the nationwide fight against smallpox launched one of the most important civil liberties struggles of the twentieth century. At the turn of the last century, a powerful smallpox epidemic swept the United States from coast to coast. The ageold disease spread swiftly through an increasingly interconnected American landscape: from southern tobacco plantations to the dense immigrant neighborhoods of northern cities to far‐flung villages on the edges of the nascent American empire. Willrich delivers a riveting tale about the clash of modern medicine, civil liberties, and government power at the turn of the last century that resonates powerfully today.