The Life and Myth of George Washington and The Civil War in 15 Objects (NYC)

Thursday, June 27, 2019 10:00 am - 4:00 pm


2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
The Civil War in 15 Objects

Harold Holzer / Hunter College

This illustrated talk invites us to reimagine the bloody, transformative American Civil War—and the men and women who fought it—through surviving objects that they wore, wrote, carried, painted, sculpted, or collected during this transformative upheaval. From the iconic (one of the pikes John Brown’s abolitionist crusaders carried to Harpers Ferry, or the handwritten terms for Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox) to the startlingly rare (Lincoln’s secretly written estimate of his chances at re-election, or an impeccably preserved Union soldier’s uniform in the incongruous style of a Foreign Legion fighter), these relics vividly reflect the human side of the conflict, and its enormous impact on life, property, and the national social order.

All the treasures come from the collection of the New-York Historical Society, and were featured in Harold Holzer’s widely praised 2013 book, The Civil War in 50 Objects.

Harold Holzer / Hunter College

Harold Holzer, winner of The 2015 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, is one of the country’s leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. A prolific writer and lecturer, and frequent guest on television, Holzer was co-chairman of the U. S. Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, appointed by President Clinton. President Bush awarded Holzer the National Humanities Medal in 2008. And in 2013, Holzer wrote a Lincoln essay for the official program at the re-inauguration of President Obama. He also served as historical consultant for the Steven Spielberg film “Lincoln”.

10:00 am - 12:00 pm
The Life and Myth of George Washington

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, military leader, and the first President of the United States, not to mention as a husband and a slaveowner. Any study of Washington 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 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, Washington Post, CNN, and Slate. He is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and serves on the Historians’ Council of the Gettysburg Foundation.