Bernard Bailyn, James M. McPherson and John Lewis Gaddis: Inaugurate the Richard Gilder Distinguished Visiting Fellow in American History Lecture Series

Historians in the News

NEW YORK – The New-York Historical Society is pleased to announce the Richard Gilder Distinguished Visiting Fellow in American History Lecture Series, a new series offering the general public the opportunity to hear pre-eminent American historians speak about broad and important themes in American history. Inaugurating the lecture series are Bernard Bailyn, James M. McPherson and John Lewis Gaddis--three of America’s most distinguished scholars specializing in 18th, 19th and 20th century American history.

“This lecture series is part of our long-term strategic plan, promoting the Historical Society as a central place for teaching and study, where scholars are celebrated and can present their best work,” said Louise Mirrer, New-York Historical Society President and CEO. “Few, if any, universities have three such distinguished outside scholars giving lectures of this kind in a single semester.”

The annual series is funded with a grant from New-York Historical Society Trustee Lewis Lehrman in honor of his partner at the Gilder Lehrman Institute. “This series honors Dick Gilder for his monumental contribution to the study of American history through his innovative and enterprising work as a N-YHS trustee, at the Gilder Lehrman Institute and through the Gilder Lehrman Collection on deposit at the New-York Historical Society,” said Lehrman. “The purpose of the Richard Gilder Distinguished Fellow is to teach historical understanding, to edify by the greater American example, while acknowledging the lesser, and thus to encourage a balanced and virtuous patriotism.”

• Bernard Bailyn, considered one of the foremost historian of the Colonial American period, is the Adams University Professor Emeritus and director of the International Seminar on the History of the Atlantic World at Harvard University. He will speak about How Historians Get It Wrong: The American Constitution, for Example on February 8 at 6:30 pm. History is what happened, and also what historians make of what happened, and they have a nearly impossible task trying to get it right—not necessarily because of ignorance or bias or lack of objectivity, but because of systematic problems of historical reconstruction. Historians have been writing about the Constitution since it was written, but there are some things about it that are almost impossible to get right, and that leads to important misconceptions.

• James M. McPherson is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor of American History, Emeritus, at Princeton University and one of America’s leading 19th century Lincoln era and Civil War historian. On March 13 at 6:30 he presents “My Enemies are Crushed”: Lincoln and the Politicization of the Army of the Potomac. In the Civil War, most officers as well as soldiers in the Union army were recruited from the civilian polity, and even West Point trained professionals mixed politics with their professional commitments. The politicization of the Army of the Potomac, especially under General George B. McClellan who spent as much time fighting his "enemies" in Washington as he did fighting the Confederates, presented President Abraham Lincoln with unique challenges as commander in chief.

• John Lewis Gaddis, the Robert A. Lovett Professor of History at Yale University, one of the leading historians of American foreign policy, delivers a lecture entitled Ending Tyranny: The History of an Idea on April 26 at 6:30. President Bush, in his second inaugural address, committed the United States to "the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." Professor Gaddis will explore the deep roots of this idea in American history, together with the feasibility of making it an objective for national and international policy in the 21st century.

For a complete list of upcoming public programs, please see our programs calendar at http://www.nyhistory.org/. Reservations are suggested; please order tickets online at http://www.smarttix.com/ or call 212-868-4444.

About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society holds one of the world’s greatest collections of historical artifacts, American art, and other materials documenting the history of the United States and New York, and is home to both one of the nation’s most distinguished independent research libraries and New York City’s oldest museum. The strength and depth of these collections provides a vital foundation for the Society’s research and educational initiatives.

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