On March 24, 2011, Douglas R. Egerton delivered a Banner Lecture entitled Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election that Brought on the Civil War. In Year of Meteors, Douglas R. Egerton recreates the tumultuous presidential election year of 1860, which upset every conventional expectation and split the American political system beyond repair. At the beginning of the year, Senator Stephen A. Douglas, leader of the Democrats, the only party with a large following in both North and South, seemed poised to win. By fall the Democratic Party had disintegrated, enabling the upstart Republicans to put an untried but canny dark horse candidate in the White House. Year of Meteors tells the story of Abraham Lincoln's rise to power and the series of events that led to secession and ultimately civil war. Dr. Egerton teaches history at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y.(Introduction by Nelson D. Lankford)+ More details
On January 26, 2012, Maurie D. McInnis delivered a lecture entitled “Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade.” In 1853 Eyre Crowe, a young British artist, visited a slave auction in Richmond and captured the scene in sketches that he later developed into a series of illustrations and paintings, including the culminating work, "Slaves Waiting for Sale, Richmond, Virginia." In her new book, "Slaves Waiting for Sale: Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade," Maurie D. McInnis uses Crowe's paintings to explore the trade in Richmond, Charleston, and New Orleans. Through that exploration, which her illustrated lecture will present, she describes the evolving iconography of abolitionist art and the role of visual culture in the transatlantic world of abolitionism. Professor McInnis teaches in the department of art at the University of Virginia. (Introduction by Cheryl Magazine)+ More details
On February 23, 2012, Samuel K. Roberts delivered a lecture entitled “When the Sun Stood Still: Reflections on the Reverend John Jasper in His Bicentennial Year.” Among the larger than life personages in Richmond during the latter years of the nineteenth century is to be counted the pastor of Jackson Ward's Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, the Rev. John Jasper. He was born a slave in the second decade of the century, and his mark on Richmond's popular consciousness lasts even to the present. In large measure, this is because of a sermon he first preached in 1878, "The Sun Do Move and the Earth Am Square." Hailed by some and vilified by others, Jasper's sermon seemed to defy modern notions of astronomy. Yet, he was asked to preach it more than 250 times, including before the General Assembly, before his death in 1901. Reflections on this enigmatic character will explore the context in which his audiences heard him, as well as that of our own. Samuel K. Roberts is the Anne Borden and E. Hervey Evans Professor of Theology and Ethics at Union Presbyterian Seminary. This lecture is cosponsored with Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church. (Introduction by Paul Levengood)+ More details
On March 15, 2012, David O. Stewart delivered a lecture entitled “American Emperor: Aaron Burr's Challenge to Jefferson's America.” A canny and charismatic politician who rose to become third vice president of the new United States, Aaron Burr seemed to throw it all away in 1805 and 1806 in an extraordinary attempt to lead a secession of the American West. "American Emperor" by acclaimed author David O. Stewart traces Burr from the threshold of the presidency in the contested election of 1800, through his duel with Alexander Hamilton, and then across the American West as he schemed with foreign ambassadors, the traitorous general-in-chief of the army, and future presidents, including Andrew Jackson. His immense ambition was matched by his undisguised contempt for Thomas Jefferson, a president he thought ineffective and unwise. The indecisive Jefferson finally had Burr arrested and charged with treason. Burr led his own legal defense in an historic treason trial in Richmond before Chief Justice John Marshall, winning an acquittal and freedom. Mr. Stewart is an attorney who practices law in Washington, D.C. (Introduction by Paul Levengood)+ More details
On March 16, 2012, Helen C. Rountree delivered a lecture entitled “Before It Was Virginia: Setting the Stage.” When English settlers arrived here 400 years ago, they encountered the first Virginians, the most famous of whom are the subjects of Helen C. Rountree's book, Pocahontas, Powhatan, and Opechancanough: Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown. Today's presentation is the keynote address of "From the Earth: The Environment in Virginia's Past and Future," a free day-long conference on the historical relationship between Virginia's environment and its people. The conference is made possible by a generous grant from the Virginia Environmental Endowment. Dr. Rountree is professor emerita of anthropology at Old Dominion University. She now concentrates full time on writing and speaking about early Virginia Indians, as well as consulting with the Virginia Council on Indians and on tribal recognition. (Introduction by Gerald P. McCarthy)+ More details
On March 28, 2012, Jeremy Black delivered a lecture entitled “Fighting for America: The Struggle for Mastery in North America, 1519–1871.” In his latest book, prize-winning author Jeremy Black traces the competition for control of North America from the landing in 1519 of Spanish troops in what became Mexico to 1871 when, with the Treaty of Washington, Britain accepted American mastery in North America. The story Black tells is one of conflict, diplomacy, and geopolitics. The eventual result was the creation of a United States of America that stretched from Atlantic to Pacific and dominated the continent. The gradual withdrawal of France and Spain, the British accommodation to the expanding U.S. reality, the impact of the American Civil War, and the subjugation of native peoples are all carefully drawn out. Jeremy Black teaches history at Exeter University in the United Kingdom. This lecture is cosponsored with the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Virginia. (Introduction by Nicole McMullin)+ More details
On April 5, 2012, Mitchell Zuckoff delivered the 2012 Stuart G. Christian, Jr., Lecture entitled "Lost in Shangri-La: A Story of Survival and Rescue during World War II." The Stuart G. Christian, Jr., Lecture was named in honor of the former president of the VHS (1989–91). Near the end of World War II, a plane carrying twenty-four members of the United States military, including nine Women’s Army Corps members, crashed into the New Guinea jungle. Three survivors were stranded deep in a jungle valley inhabited by cannibals. The story of their survival and the efforts undertaken to save them are the crux of Lost in Shangri-La. A riveting story of deliverance under the most unlikely circumstances, Mitchell Zuckoff’s book deserves its place among the great survival stories of World War II. Zuckoff teaches journalism at Boston University. (Introduction by Paul Levengood)+ More details
On April 12, 2012, Jill Titus delivered a lecture entitled "Brown's Battleground in Prince Edward County, Virginia." When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, Prince Edward County abolished its public school system rather than integrate. In her new book, "Brown's Battleground: Students, Segregationists, and the Struggle for Justice in Prince Edward County, Virginia," Jill Titus situates the crisis in Prince Edward County within the seismic changes brought by Brown and Virginia's decision to resist desegregation. She reveals the ways that ordinary people, black and white, battled, and continue to battle, over the role of public education in the United States. Dr. Titus is associate director of the C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. (Introduction by Paul Levengood)+ More details
On May 3, 2012, Terri Fisher delivered a lecture entitled "Lost Communities of Virginia." Virginia's back roads and rural areas are dotted with traces of once-thriving communities. General stores, train depots, schools, churches, banks, and post offices provide intriguing details of a way of life now gone. "Lost Communities of Virginia" documents thirty small communities from throughout the commonwealth that have lost their original industry, transportation mode, or way of life. Using contemporary photographs, maps, and excerpts of interviews with longtime residents of these communities, the book documents the present conditions, recalls past boom times, and explains the role of each community in regional settlement. Terri Fisher is outreach and programs coordinator at the Community Design Assistance Center at Virginia Tech and executive director of the Giles County Historical Society. (Introduction by Paul Levengood)+ More details
On June 14, 2012, Patrick Mooney delivered a Banner Lecture entitled "The U.S. Marines at Belleau Wood, June 1918." In 1917 the German Empire won its war on the Eastern Front by imposing humiliating terms on Russia. It then mounted a giant spring offensive on the Western Front in 1918 to crush the weakened Allied armies. U.S. Marines of the American Expeditionary Force helped blunt the German thrust and turn the tide. The pivotal action took place in June at the battle of Belleau Wood, the bloodiest fighting involving American troops since the Civil War. Patrick Mooney will describe this dramatic chapter in Marine Corps history and America's participation in World War I. Mr. Mooney is visitor services chief at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. (Introduction by Paul Levengood)+ More details
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