- Wednesday, April 10th, 7:00 pm: Lecture: James T. Patterson, author of “The Eve of Destruction: How 1965 Transformed America”
Although the United States was deeply impacted by the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, it still seemed on the doorstep of a golden age. However, by the end of 1965, events had occurred that caused the US to go down a different path. Historian James Patterson examines how the tumultuous year 1965 created “the Sixties” as we knew them.
- Tuesday, April 16th, 7:oo pm: Lecture: Nancy Rubin Stuart, author of “Defiant Brides: The True Life Account of the Wives of Benedict Arnold and Gen. Henry Knox”
When Peggy Shippen, the celebrated blonde belle of Philadelphia, married American military hero Benedict Arnold in 1779, she anticipated a life of fame and fortune, but financial debts and political intrigues prompted her to conspire with her treasonous husband against George Washington and the American Revolution. In spite of her commendable efforts to rehabilitate her husband’s name, Peggy Shippen continues to be remembered as a traitor bride.
Peggy’s patriotic counterpart was Lucy Flucker, the spirited and voluptuous brunette, who in 1774 defied her wealthy Tory parents by marrying a poor Boston bookbinder simply for love. When her husband, Henry Knox, later became a famous general in the American Revolutionary War, Lucy faithfully followed him through Washington’s army camps where she birthed and lost babies, befriended Martha Washington, was praised for her social skills, and secured her legacy as an admired patriot wife.
And yet, a closer look at the lives of both spirited women reveals that neither was simply a “traitor” or “patriot.” In Defiant Brides, the first dual biography of both Peggy Shippen Arnold and Lucy Flucker Knox,Stuart has crafted a rich portrait of two rebellious women who defied expectations and struggled—publicly and privately—in a volatile political moment in early America.
- Wednesday, April 17th, 7:00 pm: Lecture: Walter Stahr, author of “Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man”
William Henry Seward was one of the most important Americans of the nineteenth century. Progressive governor of New York and outspoken U.S. senator, he was the odds-on favorite to win the 1860 Republican nomination for president. As secretary of state and Lincoln’s closest adviser during the Civil War, Seward not only managed foreign affairs but had a substantial role in military, political, and personnel matters. Some of Lincoln’s critics even saw Seward, erroneously, as the power behind the throne; this is why John Wilkes Booth and his colleagues attempted to kill Seward as well as Lincoln. Seward survived the assassin’s attack, continued as secretary of state, and emerged as a staunch supporter of President Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s controversial successor. Through his purchase of Alaska (“Seward’s Folly”), and his groundwork for the purchase of the Canal Zone and other territory, Seward set America on course to become a world empire.