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A Morning of History with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

October 19, 2019 9:30 AM – 1:15 PM

schedule

9:30 AM - 10:35 AM
From Washington to Lincoln: The Presidency Emerges

Louis Masur / Rutgers University

Following his death in 1799, George Washington was eulogized as “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countryman.” His name is invoked 220 years later as much as a symbol as an actual person. Few figures in American history are surrounded by more well-intended mythology than George Washington.

An examination of Washington must begin with an exploration of his life as a Virginian, well before the revolution, which is where this unique eye-opening presentation by renown Rutgers Professor Louis Masur will start. Then he'll move on to Washington's role as a military leader, the first President of the United States (of course!), as well as a husband and a slave owner. Any exploration such as this one must also consider celebrated myths, such as whether he chopped down a cherry tree or wore wooden dentures, as well as famous images, such as the iconic Washington Crossing the Delaware. In his lifetime, Washington became a hero unlike any other -- and although he was very much an eighteenth-century man, he has much to teach us in our own time.

Louis Masur / Rutgers University
Louis Masur is a Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. He received outstanding teaching awards from Rutgers, Trinity College, and the City College of New York, and won the Clive Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Harvard University. He is the author of many books including "Lincoln's Last Speech," which was inspired by a talk he presented at One Day University. His essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, and Chicago Tribune. He is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and serves on the Historians' Council of the Gettysburg Foundation.

10:50 AM - 11:55 AM
World War I: What Really Happened, and Why it Matters

Jennifer Keene / Chapman University

Most Americans possess only a hazy understanding of World War I or its significance for the United States. So why not leave it there? Why bother with this history lesson? How the nation responded to the challenge of fighting its first modern war re-made America, leading to female suffrage, the modern civil rights movement, the drive to protect civil liberties, new conceptions of military service, and an expanded role for the United States in the world.

There are striking parallels between the problems Americans faced a hundred years ago in 1917-18 and the challenges we face now. How do we balance protecting national security with civil liberties? Is it appropriate for Americans to continue to debate a war once the fighting has begun? Are immigrants importing terrorism? Do Americans have a responsibility to participate in global humanitarianism? Can soldiers ever convey to those at home the reality of what they've encountered on the battlefield? Can they ever leave the war behind? Americans grappled with these issues in World War I, and these are once again relevant questions for a society at war.

Jennifer Keene / Chapman University
Jennifer Keene is a professor of history and dean of the Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Chapman University. She has published several books and numerous articles on the American experience in the world wars, including "Doughboys, the Great War and the Remaking of America", "World War I: The American Soldier Experience", and "World War II: Core Documents". She has received numerous awards for her scholarship, including Fulbright Senior Scholar Awards to France and Australia and Mellon Library of Congress Fellowship in International Studies. She has served as a historical consultant for exhibits and films, and was recently featured in the PBS documentary mini-series, "The Great War".

12:10 PM - 1:15 PM
FDR: The Making of the American Century

Jeremi Suri / University of Texas

This lecture will examine the transformational presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. How did this scion of America’s elite inspire hope in millions of suffering citizens during the Great Depression? How did he re-design the purposes and expectations of American government through the New Deal?

The lecture will show how domestic policy was connected to foreign policy, particularly President Roosevelt’s successful efforts to defeat fascism and re-make the international order. The lecture will investigate President Roosevelt’s ideas, his leadership style, and his legacies for contemporary American domestic and foreign policy.

Jeremi Suri / University of Texas
Jeremi Suri holds the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a professor in the University's Department of History and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Professor Suri is the author and editor of nine books on contemporary politics and foreign policy, most recently: "The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America's Office." His research and teaching have received numerous prizes. In 2007 Smithsonian Magazine named him one of America's "Top Young Innovators" in the Arts and Sciences. In 2018 Suri received the President's Associates Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas, and the Pro Bene Meritis Award for Public Contributions to the Liberal Arts.

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