Spring Lecture Series


All Lectures Tuesday Evenings 7:00-8:30 PM

2016 Dates & Times:

Lecture #1 – March 22, 7:00 pm
Lecture #2 – March 29, 7:00 pm
Lecture #3 – April 5, 7:00 pm
Lecture #4 – April 12, 7:00 pm

Many of you will notice that our traditional “Winter” Lecture Series is now a “Spring” Lecture Series. After quite a few weather-related postponements last year, we’ve conceded evening events during the winter to Mother Nature.  Let’s all hope Punxsutawney Phil is correct and spring arrives early this year! All lectures will be in the Dairy Barn Lecture Hall from 7:00-8:30 pm. Light snacks will be served. 

2016 Theme:

Changing Frontiers: Western Expansion and American Life in the Early Republic
The Early Republic, which roughly encompasses the decades from the 1780s through the 1830s or 40s, was a period of dramatic change and expansion for the United States.  In some ways these changes brought economic, political, and social challenges for the American people that are still working themselves out today.  Western expansion and “frontier culture” were one of the forces driving change in this period and they demanded constant public attention. The aim of this series is to explore how western expansion and frontier culture in the Early Republic altered the course of the American economy; drove new efforts to dispossess and displace Native American communities; created opportunities for public action for American women; and revived the institution of slavery.

Lecture #1 – March 22, 2016, 7:oo pm

Guest Speaker: John Lauritz Larson
“Commercialism and Frontier: The Fugitive and the Impresario.”

Larson teaches at Purdue University and is the author of two books on the Early Republic, The Market Revolution in America: Liberty, Ambition, and the Eclipse of the Common Good; and Internal Improvement: National Public Works and the Promise of Popular Government in the Early United States.

John Lauritz Larson

John Lauritz Larson

This is John Larson’s own description of his talk: “I plan to very briefly discuss the different “types” of actors historians have identified in the so-called westward movement, from the heroic pioneer of Turner’s day through the invader-settlers of current post-colonial scholarship.   Then, using Bob Mitchell as a springboard, I want to focus in on the relationship between commercial opportunities and the pioneer impulse.  I will talk about two caricatures:  the “fugitive” who wants to escape complex (capitalist) development and the “impresario” who wants to spread it.   This set up a central dynamic in frontier culture and politics from the 1780s right through the 1850s at least, until economic integration and railroad transportation made the designs of the fugitive impossible except in the most remote areas of the Far West.”



Gregory D. Smithers

Lecture #2 – March 29, 2016, 7:oo pm
Guest Speaker: Gregory D. Smithers
“Cherokee Frontiers: Native American Perspectives on Settlers, Traders, and Missionaries during the 17th and 18th Centuries.”

Smithers teaches history at Virginia Commonwealth University.  His lecture will include a discussion of “Indian Removal,” during the Early Republic.  Smithers is the author of several books, including, The Cherokee Diaspora.


Melissa Gismondi

Melissa Gismondi

Lecture #3 – April 5, 2016, 7:oo pm
Guest Speaker: Melissa Gismondi
“Behind the Battlefields and Surveying Lines: Women and Frontier Migration in the Early Republican Era, 1780s – 1810s.”

Gismondi is a doctoral candidate in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia.  Her dissertation is entitled, “The Character of a Wife: Rachel Donelson Jackson and American Expansion, 1760s-1820s.” Copies of a number of her scholarly papers are available upon request at: http://virginia.academia.edu/MelissaGismondi.


Adam Rothman

Lecture #4 – April 12, 2016, 7:oo pm
Guest Speaker: Adam Rothman
“Wrestling with the Legacy of the Domestic Slave Trade.”

Rothman teaches history at Georgetown University.  After direct importation of African captives to the United States became unlawful after 1808, the domestic slave trade emerged to fill labor demands of the cotton frontier.  The states of what was then referred to as the upper south, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, to name three, sold many “surplus” or troublesome slaves to dealers who then took  them to Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas where they were sold again.  Rothman is the author of three books, including, Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South.



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