Spring Lecture Series – 2019

2019 marks the 400th anniversary of events in Virginia which continue to define America. These events have shaped the democratic process, cultural diversity, historical traditions, and the entrepreneurial spirit of the United States. Join us in discovering the American Evolution 1619-2019.

 

The Spring Lecture Series is funded by a grant from

 


Dates & Times:
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Lecture #1 – March 19, 7:00 pm
In Search of the ‘Twenty and Odd’: Reclaiming the Humanity of America’s First Africans in the Virginia Colony

Cassandra Newby-Alexander, Norfolk State University

 

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Lecture #2 – March 26, 7:00 p
Female Capitalists: Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Early American Economy

Scott Miller, PhD, University of Virginia

 

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Lecture #3 – April 2, 7:00 pm
Tolerance, Diversity, and Virginia’s First Thanksgiving: Religion and the Roots of American Democracy.

Steven Longenecker, Bridgewater College

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Lecture #4 – April 9, 7:00 pm
Women on the Virginia Frontier

Mary Ferrari, Radford University

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All lectures are FREE and will take place in the Dairy Barn Lecture Hall
Lectures will run approximately 60 minutes
Light snacks will be provided

 

Hotel accommodations donated by
Best Western Staunton Inn
92 Rowe Rd. Staunton, VA
Hotel Reservations

And also by
Sleep Inn
222 Jefferson Hwy, Staunton, VA
Hotel Reservations

 


Lecture Details


Lecture #1 – March 19, 7:00 pm

Guest Speaker:  Cassandra Newby-Alexander, Norfolk State University
In Search of the ‘Twenty and Odd’: Reclaiming the Humanity of America’s First Africans in the Virginia Colony

Cassandra Newby-Alexander

Topic Overview:
Beginning in 1619 with the arrival of “20. and odd Negroes” aboard the English ship White Lion, people of African descent became a permanent cultural and political fixture in America. For the first century, the vast majority of the Africans coming to Virginia were from Central Africa. Over time, these individuals were subjected to a kind of forced acculturation that accompanied their enslavement. This, however, did not imply that they divested themselves of their African culture. Instead, they infused the evolving American culture with African art, music, culinary practices, agricultural and architectural techniques, and language creating a creole culture that helped to define American society and culture. These first-generation Africans helped define even the concepts of freedom and liberty. Indeed, Africans pushed for inclusion and civil rights, illustrating how Africans established the model for self-actualization because of their quest to restore their humanity and to participate in American society. Recent findings have shown light on how these individuals contributed to the evolution of America, with the creation of a dynamic creole culture that changed the cultural and political face of America.

Lecturer Background:
Cassandra Newby-Alexander is the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, a professor of history, and is director of the Joseph Jenkins Roberts Center for African Diaspora Studies at Norfolk State University. She has received over $650,000 in grants. Some of her publications include Virginia Waterways and the Underground Railroad (2017), An African American History of the Civil War in Hampton Roads (2010), and “Vivian Carter Mason: The Community Feminist,” in Virginia Women: Their Lives and Times (2016).


Lecture #2 – March 26, 7:00 pm
Guest Speaker:  Scott Miller, PhD, University of Virginia
“Female Capitalists: Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Early American Economy”

Scott Miller, PhD

Topic Overview:
The early American economy exuded dynamism in every sense—both boundless opportunity and great peril met each citizen that engaged it. War, depression, and massive debts brought the system to the brink of collapse, but remarkable entrepreneurial and innovative energy saved it from becoming a failed post-colonial regime. In agriculture, manufacturing, and finance alike, men, and, unbeknownst to most modern observers, women, poured tremendous amounts of investment and creative vigor into developing the untapped potential that came with independence from Great Britain.

This lecture follows three female Virginians—Martha Bland, Catherine Flood McCall, and Lucy Lyons Hopkins—as they navigated the tumultuous years between 1790 and 1815. Viewing the early American economy—and the industries in which they specialized—through their eyes, this lecture will examine how women in early republican Virginia participated in, and helped to shape, their economic and political reality.

After developing the broader economic world in which Bland, McCall, and Hopkins operated, this lecture will discuss each woman’s entrepreneurial activities and examine how those ventures led them to purchase the debt of the new US government. Securing the financial future of some and leading others to bankruptcy, these financial decisions had profound effects on how Virginia’s female capitalists perceived and interacted with their citizenship in the new United States.

Lecturer Background:
Scott C. Miller is the Monticello-University of Virginia Early American History Fellow at the International Center for Jefferson Studies, and will join the Yale School of Management as a post-doctoral fellow in August 2019. He earned his Ph.D in American economic and business history at the University of Virginia in 2018. His research examines the transformation of the American economy after independence from Great Britain. Scott’s work explores the re-creation of commercial networks, domestic markets, trade systems, and business practices in the midst of post-Revolutionary economic, political, and social turmoil.


Lecture #3 – April 2, 7:00 pm
Guest Speaker:  Steven Longenecker, Bridgewater College
“Tolerance, Diversity, and Virginia’s First Thanksgiving: Religion and the Roots of American Democracy.”

Steven Longenecker

Topic Overview:
Native peoples in what we now call Virginia had been giving thanks at harvest and other times throughout the year for millennia before the English arrived. In 1619, Virginia claims a moment that became America’s first English Thanksgiving. Perhaps with only a small stretch, the Old Dominion might also claim this as America’s first public religious moment. Indeed, eastern Virginia has a religious history rivaled only by New England for its length in British North America. Whether the 1619 Thanksgiving service on the Berkley Plantation, Williamsburg’s Bruton Parish later in the century, the arrival of evangelical Presbyterian revivalist Samuel Davies in the next century, or the Statute for Religious Freedom, religion has deep roots in Tidewater and Piedmont Virginia. Yet, if tolerance amidst diversity is the essence of American religion and the basis of the First Amendment, then modern American religion emerged more quickly in western Virginia than in the older east. In the Shenandoah Valley a rich diversity that included Germans, English, and Scots Irish—evangelicals, Calvinists, Quakers, and Anabaptists—all of whom considered themselves dissenters and co-existed while each matured institutionally and maintained its uniqueness. Rather than a melting pot, the Valley was a quilt or a salad bowl with each tradition contributing its distinctive size, shape, and seasoning. Put another way, the Valley expressed the First Amendment before there was a First Amendment.

Lecturer Background:
Steve Longenecker is the Edwin L. Turner Distinguished Professor of History at Bridgewater College, where he has taught for thirty years. He has published numerous articles and books on American religious history, including his latest work, Gettysburg Religion: Refinement, Diversity, and Race in the Border North during the Civil War Era (Fordham University Press, 2014) and Shenandoah Religion: Outsiders and the Mainstream in Virginia’s Valley (Baylor University Press, 2002), on which this lecture is based.


Lecture #4 – April 9, 7:00 pm
Guest Speaker:  Mary Ferrari, Radford University
“Women on the Virginia Frontier”

Mary C. Ferrari, PhD

Topic Overview:
The women who came to Virginia during the early decades at Jamestown faced many challenges: separation from family and friends back home, fear of attack, crude living conditions in a community of strangers, hard work that included fieldwork, a shortage of basic supplies, and a high death rate that led to short life expectancies and complicated family structures. Yet, these women endured and lived meaningful lives despite the hardships. This talk will start by discussing the challenges of the Jamestown experience for women.

Over the decades as settlement moved west from Jamestown, women on the Virginia frontier still faced many of the same challenges. The talk will then shift to the eighteenth-century Virginia frontier and focus on the life of Mary Draper Ingles. Mary and her family had many of the same issues. As she began her married life, she lived in a new settlement with a diverse community on the edge of Virginia. While she was hard at work creating a household with limited supplies, a war broke out between England and France that left Augusta County vulnerable to native attacks. Mary’s settlement in Draper’s Meadow in the New River Valley suffered one of the native raids. Mary’s mother was killed, her sister-in-law injured, and herself and her two boys were captured and taken to modern day Ohio. This rest of the talk will discuss Mary’s long journey home and her life after that terrible day in July of 1755.

Lecturer Background:
Dr. Mary Ferrari is a professor of history at Radford University where she teaches courses on women’s history, Colonial America, and Virginia History. She has a Ph.D. in history from the College of William and Mary. She wrote a chapter on Mary Draper Ingles for the Virginia Women book, volume 1.