On October 4, 2012, John C. Coombs delivered a Banner Lecture entitled Planter Oligarchy on Virginia’s Northern Neck. The rise of a distinct class of affluent families to economic, social, and political dominance in Virginia during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries is without doubt one of the most important developments in the Old Dominion's early history. As a group, however, the “gentry” were far from homogenous. John C. Coombs will draw on research for his forthcoming book "The Rise of Virginia Slavery" to discuss the foundations of power that were common across all ranks of the elite, as well as the circumstances that allowed the Carters, Lees, and Tayloes to achieve distinction as the colony's “first families.” Dr. Coombs is a professor of history at Hampden-Sydney College and coeditor of Early Modern Virginia: Reconsidering the Old Dominion. This lecture is cosponsored by The Menokin Foundation, which owns and operates the Richmond County plantation home of Francis Lightfoot Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his wife Rebecca Tayloe Lee. This lecture was cosponsored with The Menokin Foundation. (Introduction by Paul Levengood and Sarah Dillard Pope)+ More details
On October 25, 2012, David Brown delivered a Banner Lecture entitled Unlocking Menokin’s Secrets: Archaeological and Landscape Research at a Northern Neck Plantation. One of the great houses to survive from colonial Virginia, Menokin was the result of a unique collaboration between John Tayloe II of Mount Airy and Francis Lightfoot Lee, the husband of his daughter Rebecca. Tayloe gave Lee a life interest in 1,000 acres of his vast Richmond County estate and, as a wedding present, built the plantation house and surrounding structures. Though scant written records remain, other clues offer insight into this adaptation of European design to the environment of eastern Virginia. David Brown with DATA Investigations will discuss recent archaeological and landscape research conducted at the site. Brown is a consulting archaeologist for The Menokin Foundation. This lecture is cosponsored by the foundation, which owns and operates the home of Francis Lightfoot Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his wife Rebecca Tayloe Lee. (Introduction by Paul Levengood and Sarah Dillard Pope)+ More details
On November 8, 2012, Scott Reynolds Nelson delivered a Banner Lecture entitled A Nation of Deadbeats: An Uncommon History of America's Financial Disasters. Pundits will argue that the 2008 financial crisis was the first crash in American history driven by consumer debt. But Scott Nelson demonstrates in his new book, A Nation of Deadbeats: An Uncommon History of America's Financial Disasters, that consumer debt has underpinned almost every major financial panic in the nation’s history. In each case, the chain of banks, brokers, moneylenders, and insurance companies that separated borrowers and lenders made it impossible to distinguish good loans from bad. Bound up in this history are stories of national banks funded by smugglers, fistfights in Congress over the gold standard, America's early dependence on British bankers, and how presidential campaigns were forged in controversies over private debt. Scott Reynolds Nelson is the Leslie and Naomi Legum Professor of History at the College of William and Mary.(Introduction by Paul Levengood)+ More details
On November 29, 2012, Alan Wurtzel discussed his book, Good to Great to Gone: The 60 Year Rise and Fall of Circuit City. Not many years ago, Circuit City stood out as perhaps the premier name in the highly competitive sector of consumer electronics and a prominent corporate presence in Virginia. No longer. The author of Good to Great to Gone is uniquely placed to relate this story. Alan Wurtzel was the creator and first chief executive officer of the company. His newly published account gives the inside perspective, as only the CEO can provide, on the company's spectacular rise and fall. The book is a complement to the documentary, A Tale of Two Cities: The Circuit City Story. (Introduction by Paul Levengood and Gregory J. Gilligan)+ More details
On December 6, 2012, Meredith Henne Baker delivered a Banner Lecture entitled “The 1811 Richmond Theater Fire.” On the day after Christmas in 1811, the state of Virginia lost its governor and almost one hundred citizens in a devastating nighttime fire that consumed a Richmond playhouse. The tragic Richmond Theater fire would inspire a national commemoration and become its generation's defining disaster. In The Richmond Theater Fire, the first book about the event and its aftermath, Meredith Henne Baker explores a forgotten catastrophe and its wide societal impact. The story of transformation comes alive through survivor accounts of slaves, actresses, ministers, and statesmen. Investigating private letters, diaries, and sermons, among other rare or unpublished documents, Baker views the event and its outcomes through the fascinating lenses of early nineteenth-century theater, architecture, and faith and reveals a rich and vital untold story from America's past. Meredith Henne Baker, an independent scholar, lives in Washington, D.C. (Introduction by Paul Levengood)+ More details
On March 7, 2013, Jeff Broadwater delivered a Banner Lecture entitled "Why Washington Burned and How the President Survived: James Madison and the War of 1812." In his recent biography of the fourth president, Broadwater focuses on James Madison's role in the battle for religious freedom in Virginia, his contributions to the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, his place in the evolution of the party system, his views on slavery, and his relationship with Dolley Madison. In this lecture, Broadwater will shed light on Madison's performance as a wartime commander in chief and reveal how the unlikely wartime leader survived repeated setbacks in the War of 1812 with his popularity intact. Jeff Broadwater is a professor of history at Barton College. (Introduction by Paul Levengood) This lecture was cosponsored with the War of 1812 Commission and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission.+ More details
On February 7, 2013, Henry Wiencek delivered a Banner Lecture entitled “Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves.” Is there anything new to say about Thomas Jefferson and slavery? The answer is a resounding yes. Master of the Mountain, Henry Wiencek's eloquent, persuasive book based on new information coming from archaeological work at Monticello and on previously overlooked or disregarded evidence in Jefferson's papers opens up a huge, poorly understood dimension of Jefferson's world. Wiencek's Jefferson is a man of business and public affairs who makes a success of his debt-ridden plantation thanks to what he calls the "silent profits" gained from his slaves and thanks to a moral universe that he and thousands of others readily inhabited. Henry Weincek, a nationally prominent historian and writer, lives in Charlottesville. (Introduction by Paul Levengood)+ More details
On January 31, 2013, Lawrence Jackson delivered a Banner Lecture entitled “My Father's Name: A Black Virginia Family after the Civil War.” Part history and part detective story, My Father's Name is a moving narrative full of the mixture of anguish and fulfillment that accompanies any search into the history of slavery. In this intimate study of a black Virginia family and neighborhood, Lawrence Jackson vividly reconstructs moments in the lives of his father's grandfather, Edward Jackson, and great-grandfather, Granville Hundley. In the process the author brings to life stories of the people of Pittsylvania County during and immediately after slavery. Lawrence Jackson teaches in the English department at Emory University. (Introduction by Paul Levengood)+ More details
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