For the Love of Tea, Liberty, and Letters: Spring 2011 Public Programs

AAS is pleased to announce our spring series of public lectures. These programs are designed to highlight the work of our members and fellows, showcase the kinds of research done in the collections, and explore the history and culture of the United States during the time period of the Society’s collections. These programs will explore various ways that American culture was created and defined from the American Revolution through the antebellum period.

All of these programs take place at 7:30 p.m. in Antiquarian Hall, 185 Salisbury Street, Worcester, Massachusetts. They are all open to the public free of charge.

Tuesday, April 5
“Teapot in a Tempest: Massachusetts and the Boston Tea Party”
By Benjamin L. Carp

On the evening of December 16, 1773, a group of disguised Bostonians boarded three merchant ships and dumped more than forty-six tons of tea into Boston Harbor. Why did the Tea Party happen? Whom did it involve? What did it mean throughout Massachusetts and beyond? Based on his new book, Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America, Benjamin L. Carp will explore these questions.

Tuesday, April 19
“Noah Webster and the Creation of an American Culture”
By Joshua C. Kendall

Noah Webster was not only America’s greatest lexicographer; he was also a Founding Father who helped define American culture. His obsession with words, which helped a high-strung genius live an amazingly vibrant life, ended up giving America a language of its own. This talk is based on Kendall’s new book, The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster’s Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture.

Thursday, May 12
“Liberty and Justice for All: The Civil War as Blacks’ Second American Revolution”
By James O. and Lois E. Horton

During the increasingly militant 1850s, African Americans formed unofficial militias to prepare themselves for an anticipated conflict over their liberty. In this lecture, James O. and Lois E. Horton will explore how African Americans’ militia and military service shaped the Civil War as a war for freedom, turned the tide of the war, and helped to fulfill the promise of the American Revolution.

Tuesday, May 24
“Igniting the War: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Antislavery Politics, and the Rise of Lincoln”
By David S. Reynolds
Twenty-eighth Annual James Russell Wiggins Lecture in the Program in the History of the Book in American Culture


No book in American history molded public opinion more powerfully than Uncle Tom’s Cabin. David S. Reynolds will describe how Stowe’s novel shaped the political scene by making the North, formerly largely hostile to the antislavery reform, far more open to it than it had been. The novel and its dissemination in plays, essays, reviews, and the tie-in merchandise directly paved the way for the public’s openness to an antislavery candidate like Lincoln. Simultaneously, it stiffened the South’s resolve to defend slavery and demonize the North. Uncle Tom’s Cabin thus ratcheted up the political tensions that led to the war that ended slavery.

Thursday, June 2
“American Love Story: Abigail and John”
By Joseph J. Ellis

The friendship and love of John and Abigail Adams is contained in the letters they left behind, nearly twelve thousand of which still exist today. Based on his latest book, First Family: Abigail and John Adams, Ellis will draw upon these sources to explore the combination of commitment, honesty, and loyalty that made John and Abigail’s marriage a success and played a significant role in the triumph of the Revolution and the early government.

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