You are cordially invited to a commemoration of the bombardment of Falmouth on its 200th anniversary—January 28, 2014—hosted by the Falmouth Museums on the Green. This bicentennial marks the dark day in January when the HMS Nimrod attempted to destroy the town. Despite the shelling, the inhabitants withstood the marauding efforts of the British to force Falmouth residents to pay ransom or surrender their two brass cannons. We will commemorate this with a much more festive event than the original!
“Hullabaloo and the Nimrod, Too!”will be held at the Coonamessett Inn, 311 Gifford Street, Falmouth, beginning at 6:00 pm. Entertainment will include fifes and drums as well as the “Rum Soaked Crooks”, a men’s singing quartet. There will likely be other surprises as well.
.Dress: Celebration casual or period costume for fun and special prizes.
Wednesday, February 12: Lecture, 7 pm: Author Alma Katsu: “Researching the Historical Novel”
Join Alma Katsu, author of The Taker Trilogy, as she discusses the challenges of conducting research for fiction that spans multiple eras and continents. The Taker, Ms. Katsu’s first book, was selected by BOOKLIST as one of the ten best debut novels of 2011 and has been published in over a dozen languages. The final book in the trilogy, The Descent, was released in January. Ms. Katsu holds a MA in fiction from JohnsHopkinsUniversity, and is currently a senior analyst and researcher for a major think tank.
Thursday, February 20: Lecture, 7 pm: Author Stephen Kinzer discussing his book, “The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles and their Secret World War”.
During the 1950s, when the Cold War was at its peak, two immensely powerful brothers led the United States into a series of foreign adventures whose effects are still shaking the world.John Foster Dulles was secretary of state while his brother, Allen Dulles, was director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In this book, Stephen Kinzer places their extraordinary lives against the background of American culture and history. He uses the framework of biography to ask: Why does the United States behave as it does in the world? The Brothers explores hidden forces that shape the national psyche, from religious piety to Western movies—many of which are about a noble gunman who cleans up a lawless town by killing bad guys. This is how the Dulles brothers saw themselves, and how many Americans still see their country’s role in the world. Propelled by a quintessentially American set of fears and delusions, the Dulles brothers launched violent campaigns against foreign leaders they saw as threats to the United States. These campaigns helped push countries from Guatemala to the Congo into long spirals of violence, led the United States into the Vietnam War, and laid the foundation for decades of hostility between the United States and countries from Cuba to Iran.
Wednesday, March 12: Lecture, 7 pm: Author Megan Marshall discusses her book “Margaret Fuller: A New American Life”
From an early age, Margaret Fuller provoked and dazzled New England’s intellectual elite. Her famous Conversations changed women’s sense of how they could think and live; her editorship of the Transcendentalist literary journal the Dial shaped American Romanticism.
Marshall tells the story of how Fuller, tired of Boston, accepted Horace Greeley’s offer to be the New-York Tribune’s front-page columnist. The move unleashed a crusading concern for the urban poor and the plight of prostitutes, and a late-in-life hunger for passionate experience. In Italy as a foreign correspondent, Fuller took a secret lover, a young officer in the Roman Guard; she wrote dispatches on the brutal 1849 Siege of Rome; and she gave birth to a son.
Yet, when all three died in a shipwreck off Fire Island shortly after Fuller’s fortieth birthday, the sense and passion of her life’s work were eclipsed by tragedy and scandal. Marshall’s inspired account brings an American heroine back to indelible life.
Tuesday, March 18: Lecture, 7 pm: Author Christopher Klein discusses his book “Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America’s First Sports Hero”
Born in the South End, the “Boston Strong Boy” was the last of the bare-knuckle heavyweight champions, the biggest sporting icon of the 1880s and 1890s, and the first athlete to earn more than a million dollars. He had a big ego, big mouth, and bigger appetites. His womanizing, drunken escapades, and chronic police-blotter presence were godsends to a burgeoning newspaper industry. The larger-than-life boxer embodied the American Dream for late nineteenth-century Irish immigrants as he rose from Boston’s working class to become the most recognizable man in the nation and the friend of kings and presidents.
Thursday, March 20: Lecture, 7 pm: Author Kevin Symmons discusses his historical novel, “Out of the Storm”.
War hero Eric Montgomery returns from Iraq, hoping to revive his family’s Cape Cod marina and marry his childhood sweetheart. When his wife and unborn child die in a tragic auto accident Eric’s dreams are shattered. He spends long months grieving, losing himself in alcohol, isolation, and anger. Then Ashley Fitzhugh, a young woman he’s met only once, appears on his doorstep one stormy night. Eric is annoyed at first, but soon finds himself caring for his visitor and her young daughter–seeing in them a chance to rebuild the life he lost. When threatening phone calls, mysterious strangers, and covert agents invade their peaceful lives, Eric must decide: Is Ashley the answer to a prayer? Or part of the nightmare he can never escape?
Friday, March 28: Lecture, 7 pm: Author George Daughan discusses his book “The Shining Sea: David Porter and the epic voyage of the USS Essex during the War of 1812”
A few months after the outbreak of the War of 1812, Captain David Porter set out in the USS Essex on an epic, seventeen-month cruise to the South Seas. Porter was pursuing fame and riches, and by most accounts his odyssey was a stunning success: it brought glory to the fledgling American navy, cemented Porter’s reputation as a daring and talented commander, and has long been celebrated as one of the greatest maritime adventures in U.S. history. Less well known, however, is the terrible price that the crew of the Essexpaid for their captain’s outsized ambitions.In The Shining Sea, award-winning historian George C. Daughan tells the full story of Porter’s thrilling, action-packed voyage, revealing the heights of Porter’s hubris and the true depths of his failure on this fateful cruise. A swashbuckling tale of risk and ruin on the high seas, The Shining Sea brings to life the monomaniacal quest of one of the most misunderstood commanders of the War of 1812. Porter’s singular voyage, Daughan shows, stands as a cautionary tale for any leader who would put personal glory and ambition ahead of cause and countrymen.
Sunday, April 6: Re-enactment Performance, 2:30 pm: Jessa Piaia as Isabella Stewart Gardner
Character reenactor Jessa Piaia will present a dramatic portrayal of Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924) in “A Visit withIsabella Stewart Gardner: America’s First Patroness of the Arts”. The drama is set in 1910, seven years after the opening of Fenway Court, the house-museum which Mrs. Gardner designed and built for her extensive art collection, and willed to the City of Boston upon her demise. A recognized leader of Boston’s emerging salon scene, Mrs. Gardner, with characteristic verve and candor, relates episodes about her luminous circle of family and friends, relives journeys to exotic lands, and shares other potentially scandalous encounters. The portrayal runs approximately 50 minutes in length, with an informal Q&A to follow.
Thursday, May 1: Lecture, 7 pm: Author Stephen Puleo discusses his book “The Caning: The Assault that Drove America to Civil War”
Early in the afternoon of May 22, 1856, ardent pro-slavery Congressman Preston S. Brooks of South Carolina strode into the United States Senate Chamber in Washington, D.C., and began beating renowned anti-slavery Senator Charles Sumner with a gold-topped walking cane. Brooks struck again and again—more than thirty times across Sumner’s head, face, and shoulders—until his cane splintered into pieces and the helpless Massachusetts senator, having nearly wrenched his desk from its fixed base, lay unconscious and covered in blood. Brooks not only shattered his cane during the beating, but also destroyed any pretense of civility between North and South.
One of the most shocking and provocative events in American history, the caning convinced each side that the gulf between them was unbridgeable and that they could no longer discuss their vast differences of opinion regarding slavery on any reasonable level. While Sumner eventually recovered after a lengthy convalescence, compromise had suffered a mortal blow. Moderate voices were drowned out completely; extremist views accelerated, became intractable, and locked both sides on a tragic collision course.The caning had an enormous impact on the events that followed over the next four years: the meteoric rise of the Republican Party and Abraham Lincoln; the Dred Scott decision; the increasing militancy of abolitionists, notably John Brown’s actions; and the secession of the Southern states and the founding of the Confederacy. As a result of the caning, the country was pushed, inexorably and unstoppably, to war. Many factors conspired to cause the Civil War, but it was the caning that made conflict and disunion unavoidable five years later.
Thursday, May 15: Lecture, 7 pm: Author Craig Steven Wilder discusses his book “Ebony and Ivy: Race and the Troubled History of America’s Universities”
Many of America’s revered colleges and universities—from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton to Rutgers, Williams College, and UNC—were soaked in the sweat, the tears, and sometimes the blood of people of color. The earliest academies proclaimed their mission to Christianize the savages of North America, and played a key role in white conquest. Later, the slave economy and higher education grew up together, each nurturing the other. Slavery funded colleges, built campuses, and paid the wages of professors. Enslaved Americans waited on faculty and students; academic leaders aggressively courted the support of slave owners and slave traders. Significantly, our leading universities, dependent on human bondage, became breeding grounds for the racist ideas that sustained them.Ebony and Ivy is a powerful and propulsive study and the first of its kind, revealing a history of oppression behind the institutions usually considered the cradle of liberal politics.
Wednesday, May 21: Lecture, 7 pm: Author Janet Uhlar discusses her book “Freedom’s Cost: The Story of General Nathanael Greene”
Nathanael Greene was the strategist of the American Revolution. His role in the War for Independence was second only to General George Washington. Born and reared a Quaker, with no military experience, he was promoted from private to brigadier general overnight. Greene quickly became Washington’s confidant and close friend. He was chosen by the Commander to lead the Continental Army should Washington be killed, injured, or taken captive. It was General Greene who pulled the Continental Army from the throes of death at Valley Forge, who petitioned Congress for a Declaration of Independence, who was given the desperate task of commanding the Southern Department of the Continental Army after other commanders had failed, and who drove British General Cornwallis to surrender at Yorktown. Unable to participate or witness the victorious battle, he was forced to immediately return South with his troops, and subdue the remaining British forces. Greene led his troops in battle and laid siege for a year after the victory at Yorktown. His persistence finally forced the British to evacuate the South.Greene led his men in more battles than any other general officer, including Washington. Moreover, it was Greene who was constantly harassed by Congress, and ultimately forsaken by them. Three years after the official end of the war, Nathanael Greene was dead. His premature death was not only a result of the intense hardships of war, but the hardships and cruelty inflicted on him by the United States Congress.
Wednesday, May 28: Lecture, 7 pm: Michael McNaught: “Clash of Titans: Grant vs. Lee, Virginia 1864”
In May 1864 newly-minted Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant launched what he hoped would be the final campaign of the Army of the Potomac. Designed to destroy Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and end the war by capturing Richmond, what became known as the “Overland Campaign” saw over 40,000 Union casualties over a forty-day period (earning Grant the unwanted sobriquet “Butcher Grant”), with major battles fought in the Wilderness, at Spotsylvania Court House, the North Anna River and Cold Harbor. At the end of the campaign Richmond was still in Confederate hands, and Grant was forced to put Petersburg under siege for the next ten months.
Thursday, June 5: Lecture, 7 pm: Author Thomas Healy discusses his book “The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind—and Changed the History of Free Speech in America”
No right seems more fundamental to American public life than freedom of speech. Yet well into the twentieth century, that freedom was still an unfulfilled promise, with Americans regularly imprisoned merely for speaking out against government policies. Indeed, free speech as we know it comes less from the First Amendment than from a most unexpected source: Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. A lifelong skeptic, he disdained all individual rights, including the right to express one’s political views. But in 1919, it was Holmes who wrote a dissenting opinion that would become the canonical affirmation of free speech in the United States.Why did Holmes change his mind? That question has puzzled historians for almost a century. Now, with the aid of newly discovered letters and confidential memos, law professor Thomas Healy reconstructs in vivid detail Holmes’s journey from free-speech opponent to First Amendment hero. It is the story of a remarkable behind-the-scenes campaign by a group of progressives to bring a legal icon around to their way of thinking—and a deeply touching human narrative of an old man saved from loneliness and despair by a few unlikely young friends.
Wednesday, June 25: Lecture, 7 pm: Christopher Cameron discusses his book “To Plead Our Own Cause: African Americans in Massachusetts and the Making of the Antislavery Movement”.
The antislavery movement entered an important new phase when William Lloyd Garrison began publishing the Liberator in 1831 a phase marked by massive petition campaigns, the extraordinary mobilization of female activists, and the creation of organizations such as the American Anti-Slavery Society. While the period from 1831 to 1865 is known as the heyday of radical abolitionism, the work of Garrison s predecessors in Massachusetts was critical in laying the foundation for antebellum abolitionism. To Plead Our Own Cause explores the significant contributions of African Americans in the Bay State to both local and nationwide antislavery activity before 1831 and demonstrates that their efforts represent nothing less than the beginning of organized abolitionist activity in America.Fleshing out the important links between Reformed theology, the institution of slavery, and the rise of the antislavery movement, author Christopher Cameron argues that African Americans in Massachusetts initiated organized abolitionism in America and that their antislavery ideology had its origins in Puritan thought and the particular system of slavery that this religious ideology shaped in Massachusetts. The political activity of black abolitionists was central in effecting the abolition of slavery and the slave trade within the BayState, and it was likewise key in building a national antislavery movement in the years of the early republic. Even while abolitionist strategies were evolving, much of the rhetoric and tactics that well-known abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass employed in the mid-nineteenth century had their origins among blacks in Massachusetts during the eighteenth century.
Tuesday, November 18: Lecture, 7 pm: Ken Turino, “The Spirit of Christmas Past: Four Centuries of Christmas in New England”
This well illustrated lecture traces the development of the celebration of Christmas from the time it was outlawed in 17th Century New England through the beginning of the 21st Century when all the trappings of a traditional Christmas were in place. For many, the celebration of Christmas today is the most important holiday of the year. But many of the customs which we take for granted as part of the current holiday festivities and religious celebrations are actually a product of more recent history.
Kenneth C. Turino, Manager of Community Engagement and Exhibitions at Historic New England has published several articles on the history of Christmas and speaks on the topic widely. He will look at how Christmas was transformed from a rowdy celebration to a family centered event. Among the topics discussed are how the Christmas tree became popular, halls were decked, and Santa Claus came to town.
Saturday, March 15: Lecture, 3 pm: Author Richard Cahill discusses his book “Hauptmann’s Ladder: A Step by Step Analysis of the Lindbergh Kidnapping”
In 1936, Bruno Richard Hauptmann was executed for the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr. Almost all of America believed Hauptmann guilty; only a few magazines and tabloids published articles questioning his conviction. In the ensuing decades, many books about the Lindbergh case have been published. Some have declared Hauptmann the victim of a police conspiracy and frame-up, and one posited that Lindbergh actually killed his own son and fabricated the entire kidnapping to mask the deed. Because books about the crime have been used as a means to advance personal theories, the truth has often been sacrificed and readers misinformed. Cahill presents conclusions based upon facts and documentary evidence uncovered in his twenty years of research. Using primary sources and painstakingly presenting a chronological reconstruction of the crime and its aftermath, he debunks false claims and explodes outrageous theories, while presenting evidence that has never before been revealed.