February 17, 3 pm: Kevin Gutzman, “Thomas Jefferson: Revolutionary”

thomasjefferson_revolutionaryThough remembered chiefly as author of the Declaration of Independence and the president under whom the Louisiana Purchase was effected, Thomas Jefferson was a true revolutionary in the way he thought about the size and reach of government, which Americans who were full citizens and the role of education in the new country. In his new book, Kevin Gutzman gives readers a new view of Jefferson―a revolutionary who effected radical change in a growing country.

Jefferson’s philosophy about the size and power of the federal system almost completely undergirded the Jeffersonian Republican Party. His forceful advocacy of religious freedom was not far behind, as were attempts to incorporate Native Americans into American society. His establishment of the University of Virginia might be one of the most important markers of the man’s abilities and character.

He was not without flaws. While he argued for the assimilation of Native Americans into society, he did not assume the same for Africans being held in slavery while―at the same time―insisting that slavery should cease to exist. Many still accuse Jefferson of hypocrisy on the ground that he both held that “all men are created equal” and held men as slaves. Jefferson’s true character, though, is more complex than that as Kevin Gutzman shows in his new book about Jefferson, a revolutionary whose accomplishments went far beyond the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.

Special Performance: Feb. 24, 2 pm: “My Wife Abigail Adams, the First Modern American Woman”

PART OF THE ‘WHY DIDN’T I KNOW ABOUT THIS?’ SERIES OF LECTURES ON WOMEN’S HISTORY, SPONSORED BY MASSHUMANITIESmass-humanities-logo

 

 

 

The historical figure of John Adams,george-baker portrayed by George Baker, will present his views of the nation, history and family life in a humorous and inspiring speech. He will be dressed in the clothes he would have worn as the Second President of the United States 1797-1801.

John Adams talks with admiration, humor and affection about his wife, Abigail Adams, the First Modern American Woman and describes how Abigail defied the sexist conventions of her time, that married women could not own property, and with her amazing financial skills and insights made the Adams family prosperous.  She helped found the new nation and raised their son, John Quincy Adams, to become President.  This program is full of details of Abigail’s life which most people don’t know.  It is told from the perspective of a husband talking about his wife, and contains the story of their romance, challenges, trials and accomplishments which makes them sound like ordinary people living in extraordinary times.
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Special Performance: “My Wife Abigail Adams”