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A Day of History with the Richmond Times-Dispatch

September 28, 2019 9:30 AM – 1:15 PM

schedule

9:30 AM - 10:35 AM
What The Founding Fathers Were Really Like (And What We Can Still Learn From Them Today)

Carol Berkin / Baruch College

Most of us know that America's Founding Fathers attended the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia and drafted the Constitution of the United States. The delegates decided to replace the Articles of Confederation with a document that strengthened the federal government, with the most contentious issue being  legislative representation. Eventually, a compromise established the bicameral Congress to ensure both equal and proportional representation. But a lot more happened as well - much of it underreported or misunderstood. That's the focus of this insider's look at the birth of American Government as we know it today.

The fact is, the Founding Fathers were ambitious. Also grouchy, scared, and hopeful. They told jokes. They fought. They schemed. They gossiped. They improvised. Occasionally, they killed each other (sorry, Alexander Hamilton). Only by seeing the Founders as real people -not icons- can we appreciate the full story of the nation's founding with all of its drama, humor, and significance intact.

Carol Berkin / Baruch College
Carol Berkin is Presidential Professor of History at Baruch College and a member of the history faculty of the Graduate Center of CUNY. She has worked as a consultant on several PBS and History Channel documentaries, including "The Scottsboro Boys," which was nominated for an Academy Award. She has also appeared as a commentator on screen in the PBS series by Ric Burns, "New York," the Middlemarch series "Benjamin Franklin" and "Alexander Hamilton" on PBS, and the MPH series, "The Founding Fathers." She serves on the Board of The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Board of the National Council for History Education.

10:50 AM - 11:55 AM
The Mind of Abraham Lincoln

Louis Masur / Rutgers University

Any thinking American is drawn to Abraham Lincoln. His story invites us to marvel at how this poor, self-educated, frontier lawyer transformed himself into a political leader who defended democracy, preserved the nation, and abolished slavery. As late as 1859, when asked to provide an autobiographical sketch, he mused there was not much to say because "there is not much of me." If not much then, there would be plenty ahead.

To understand Lincoln, we must read him. This class provides an opportunity to immerse oneself in Lincoln's writings and to explore his ideas in seminar fashion, as we might in an advanced undergraduate course. Professor Lou Masur will provide biographical information and analysis.

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.

12:10 PM - 1:15 PM
WWII: Surprising Stories You Never Learned in History Class

Robert Watson / Lynn University

World War II is arguably the most tragic episode in human history. The six year war began in Europe but soon spread to all corners of the globe with countless men, women, and children affected by the struggle. Millions were killed on the battlefield, in the air, and on the sea. And as everyone knows, an estimated 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis in accordance with Hitler's master plan to exterminate them.

The chronology is well known, but during a war this complex and lengthy, there are many surprising and sometimes shocking incidents that occurred that are less well known - especially during the final chaotic days of the conflict. This lecture will explore the desperate and bizarre actions of the Nazis at the end of the war and the challenges confronting the allies in rescuing Holocaust prisoners, as well as the difficulties historians face in uncovering and making sense of such stories and the role of government in declassifying war documents.

Robert Watson / Lynn University
Robert Watson is the Distinguished Professor of American History at Lynn University. A frequent media commentator, he has been interviewed by CNN, MSNBC, "Time," "USA Today," "The New York Times," and the BBC and others, and has appeared on C-SPAN's "Book TV," "Hardball with Chris Matthews," and "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." He has received multiple Professor of the Year awards at Lynn and other universities, and published 40 books on topics in history and politics. His book "America's First Crisis" won the book of the year award in history at the Independent Publishers' awards and his book "The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn" won the Commodore Barry Book Award.

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