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tv   2022 George Washington Book Prize  CSPAN  July 3, 2022 4:55am-6:06am EDT

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ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 23rd regions of the mount vernon. ladies association and margaret h nichols. i am meg nichols the 23rd region of the mount vernon ladies association and as my great pleasure to welcome you on this beautiful evening to mount vernon the beloved home of george, washington. washington called mount vernon home for over 45 years more than two-thirds of his extraordinary life. the end of washington's life
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almost meant the end of mount vernon itself. as our nation was on the verge of civil war mount vernon was drifting slowly and silently into ruin. when the federal government and the state of virginia declined the washington's offer to purchase mount vernon from the family a woman from south carolina by the name of ann pamela cunningham. took it upon herself to challenge the country to save the home of america's hero and eventual first president and the rest as they say is history the founders of the mount vernon. ladies association under ann pamela cunningham where remarkable women of imagination they were alert to opportunity and persistent in their mission. they had a big idea to purchase and rescue the home of the first president and they did just that today today the mission of the
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mount vernon lee's association to preserve mount vernon and educate the world about the life leadership and legacy of george washington continues uninterrupted for 164 years. i would like to take a moment to recognize the members of the mount vernon. ladies association who are here with us tonight. ladies, please stand when i call your name. gail barry west vice region amerita for the district of columbia jean cheryl from north carolina ddp try from wisconsin susan townsend from delaware kate waddell from illinois and
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hillary carter west from the district of columbia. thank you ladies for all you do. i would also like to introduce some other special guests who are with us this evening. bob dom the chair of the board of the american battlefield trust and trustee of the gilder. lehrmann institute of american history. that the honorable james gilmore former ambassador to the organization for security and cooperation in europe and the former governor of virginia. roxanne gilmore the former first lady of virginia thomas siebert from embath former ambassador to sweden the honorable elaine rice
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bachmann state archivist of maryland where are you? cliff fleet president and ceo of the colonial williamsburg foundation andrew oshaughnessy vice president of monticello the saunders director of the robert h smith international center for jefferson studies at the thomas jefferson foundation and the winner of the 2014 george washington prize tonight we are here to award the george washington prize. the prize is central to the association's mission, encouraging new substandive and accessible scholarship around george washington and our nation's founding era. tonight is a very special evening because we are not just celebrating one year of
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remarkable scholarship on the nation's founding but three how lucky we are to have so many brilliant authors with us tonight. mount vernon is extraordinarily proud to be a part of this important partnership with our good friends at the gilder. larman institute of american history and washington college in awarding this coveted prize each year. thank you all so much for being here and enjoy your dinner. thank you. please welcome to the podium dr. michael jace associate president of washington college. thank you so much and good evening, everyone. i am mike sasolski as you have just heard and i am indeed the president of washington college
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and washington college is one of three sponsors of the washington prize. thank you to our friends at the gilder larman institute and especially to mount vernon for co-hosting this beautiful celebration tonight one that has been more than three years in the making it's pretty great to be able to be back here tonight, isn't it? washington college's proud to have been associated with george washington since the year 1782 when the general served as our trustee made a generous donation to the founding of the college and graciously allowed us to adopt his his own name for our institution. the first college in fact that was chartered after america's independence. our founding was the work of a visionary group of patriots and educators and tonight. we have some honored guests with a very special connection to
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that 18th century history. with me at my table right here our mem. of the london family who are direct descendants of dr. john scott, john scott stood alongside george, washington among our very first donors and trustees back in 1782. last year the london's renewed that remarkable ancestral legacy by establishing the london scott family washington prize scholarships providing financial aid to washington college students without standing achievement in history and in american studies. yes. we're incredibly grateful. these scholarships were created under the leadership of dr. jack london a long time friend of both mount vernon and washington college who loved america's history and devoted much of his
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life to our nation's service. and who yes very grateful dr. london service dr. london enjoyed attending this dinner almost every year since the prizes inception. tragically dr. london passed away just weeks after establishing the scholarships at washington college. back in january of 2021 tonight we want to honor his memory and also to thank his wife dr. jennifer london and his children phil laura jackson, jason and jonathan. we at washington college are incredibly grateful to you for your tremendous generosity. let's give the london family a well-deserved round of applause.
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we also have with us tonight six student recipients of the london scott family washington prize scholarships and of the previously established london scott history fellowships, and i will name them for you. jamie anderson, ryan corbin page dupless caitlin osutra. hildy perrin and patricia woodsworth. yes, they deserve a round of applause. this is how good these students are they i did not even have to ask them to stand. they knew it was coming. as we gather here for the first time since the well the before times we are honoring the winners and finalists for three consecutive washington prizes. among tonight's guests are two finalists for the 2020 prize.
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richard bell for stolen five free boys kidnapped into slavery and their astonishing odyssey and david head for a crisis of peace george washington the newberg conspiracy and the fate of the american revolution rick and david. please stand so that we can congratulate the both of you. and now it is my distinct pleasure to recognize the winner of the 2020 washington prize rick atkinson for his book the british are coming the war for america, lexington to princeton 1775 to 1777. mr. atkinson one of our most acclaimed contemporary
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chronicles of war is a past winner of pulitzer prizes. in both history and journalism his book the first of a planned trilogy vividly brings to life the experience of commanders and common soldiers alike. he couldn't be with us this evening, unfortunately, but he has recorded some brief video remarks which will play for you now. good evening. i'm rick atkinson, and i really regret not being with you tonight at mount vernon. i'm actually a q outside london working all week in the british national archives on the next volume one. i hope knock wood will be a trilogy on the american revolution. next week. i'll be in france for research at versailles bordeaux and the chateau lafayette is well as other places relevant for the french entry into the war on the american side. i am deeply grateful to have received the 2020 george washington prize. the honor comes not only from its invocation of our first commander in chief and first president.
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but from the extraordinary scholar authors who have received the award previously and the exceptional slate of finalists in 2020. thank you to the gilder. larman institute to washington college and to mount vernon. by chance i went to high school about five miles north of mount vernon back when the washington's were still in residence on the plantation. and over the decades, i've watched the place grow more compelling and more vital as a touchstone in our national saga. i've spent my entire professional life writing about war first as a journalist and a war correspondent and then as the author of seven nonfiction books on five different american wars. until writing the british are coming most of that commitment focused on our more recent history. but after spending so much time examining our army of the 20th and 21st centuries. it seemed fitting to explore the origins of that army those who created it those who fought for
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it those who let it. and even more compelling to me the american revolution speaks directly to us about the most fundamental questions. who are we? what do we believe? what were we we the people willing to die for? the revolution is one of the greatest stories in western civilization with characters and events and and drama beyond the capacity of even the greatest novelist to invent. for a narrative writer like me. it's a wonderful opportunity to write unsentimental meticulous history as a great yarn. in the british are coming. i wanted to tell the story of the first couple years of the revolution from both sides with sympathy and rigor to portray king george iii and his ministers and his generals. as vividly as george washington and his compatriots. the brutality of the war still astonishes me partisan
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belligerence metastasized into civil war that anticipated these civil war. the revolution shows us and this should be comforting that our nation was born bickering disputation is in the national genome. it also shows us that leaders worthy of our enduring admiration can rise to the occasion with grit and wisdom and grace. and it reminds us that whatever trials be set us today. we have overcome greater perils before existential perils we've come far in almost two and a half centuries in power diversity tolerance and sheer scale. but to me those forebearers those rebels remain nearer than we know. i'm so grateful for the george washington prize. it suggests that maybe i'm on the right track. at any rate i intend to keep going. thanks again. and have a great evening. people are like five reasons.
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ladies and gentlemen, please welcome dr. james g basker president and ceo of the gilderland institute for american history. hello everybody, and i hope you're enjoying your meal. it's great to be here for a resumption of the george washington prize which we have. valued all these years. i'm jim basker and i'm president of the guilder layerman institute of american history. thank you. and i just got permission from doug bradburn to say a few words about what the institute does because we're trying to be some
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trains that run on time tonight. um, but i do want to say that those of you who know us know that we were founded in 1994 by gilder and lewis lerman. that our mission is to improve the teaching and learning of american history and civics. especially in k-12 schools, but we do other projects as well. and i'm proud to say that at the moment we have now 31,000 schools in our affiliate network across all 50 states and a scattering across about 70 countries around the world. thank you. we provide all kinds of educational resources. we do a lot of teacher development. we have almost 10,000 teachers who do professional development programs with us at one point of the year or another. we have three and a half million visitors unique visitors to our
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website most of them students and teachers. in fact are ap us history study guide which students use to prepare for the ap test in american history has more than one million unique visitors each year, which is striking to us because only about 500,000 kids take the test. maybe some of you are sneaking a look. i think you'd find it enjoyable. we've had a lot of fun and some of you have been with us when we were celebrating that fun with the hamilton education program beginning. thanks to ron chernow who is a former winner of the george washington book prize. in fact the first of them for his biography of hamilton. we were connected with the miranda's and the producers of hamilton and the rockefeller foundation and for seven years we have been partners. we developed a curriculum that enabled title one school students. to do research in the founding era and then create their own
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performance pieces. and once they had done that they could come to the theater and see the show for most of those kids. it was the only time they'd ever been in a theater in their lives. well, we had 200,000 students who had enjoyed that program when covid shut everything down. but we were very lucky we had begun to prepare an online version of the curriculum and we launched it immediately in the summer of 2020. and in the very first year of that online curriculum providing resources now to students in schools all across the country. and inviting them to produce these original pieces 20 of whom would be chosen to come to new york. and see the show when it reopened which they're doing this spring. in any case that first year we had 400,000 students across the country doing the hamilton curriculum online with us. so the founding era is alive in the schools that we're serving
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any of you who'd like to know more about those programs or try to bring them to yours to schools and your neighborhood. please talk to me afterwards because it's what we do. but my job tonight. is to present the 2021? george washington book prize winner, but before i do that, i'd like to salute first. the six other outstanding books that were named finalists for the 2021 prize one of whom i believe is here one of the authors for his book aristocratic education in the making of the american republic mark boonshoft mark. are you here please stand? great. the other finalists could not be here tonight, and of course covid changed everything for us, but they include the following vincent brown for his book
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tacky's revolt the story of an atlantic slave war peter cousins for tecumseh and the prophet the shawnee brothers who defied a nation honore a phantom jeffers for the age of phyllis michael w mcconnell for the president who would not be king executive power under the constitution. and finally william g thomas the third for a question of freedom the families who challenged slavery from the nation's founding to the civil war those with the finalists for 2021. but now i turn to the winner. and which is a great pleasure for me. the winner of the 2021 george washington prize chosen by unanimous vote of the prize board is mary beth, norton. for her innovative deeply researched in wonderfully readable book 1774 the long year
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of the revolution. i just want to say you will hear from professor norton in a moment, so i won't go into detail about her book except to say that it recenters our whole idea of the revolution at least a full year before the battles of lexington and concord. in the words of the jury quote her book offers a particularly rich tapestry of the events and developments of that year 1774 was the first year in which americans sympathetic to the british would be described as loyalists and tories and be persecuted by the patriots setting the stage for a civil war that was part of the revolutionary war. the jury went on to say it was the war it was the year in which
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the revolution became inevitable. for both the student of history and the general reader. i want to add that this book. is a must-reed as well as a joy to read? but i cannot step down and give way to professor norton without spending a couple of minutes paying tribute to her extraordinary and in many ways heroic career when she entered graduate school at harvard in the 1960s opportunities for women were scarce. she was one of only two women in her year. yet when she finished her doctoral dissertation in 1969. she was awarded the allen nevin's prize from the society of american historians, which is awarded each year for the single best dissertation in american history in the whole country. yes. over the course of the next 52
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years mary beth norton broke glass ceilings transformed scholarly fields founded and led organizations published books one prizes and taught thousands of college students. she taught at the university level for 50 years almost all of that at cornell university where she was the first woman professor in the history department. and in 2008 was honored with a teaching prize for her record of outstanding undergraduate teaching. her books helped broaden and expand the field of early american history to include women's history beginning with women of america in 1979 and liberty's daughters in 1980. followed in the 1990s by founding mothers and fathers, which was a finalist for the pulitzer prize and then in 2002 her book about the salem witchcraft crisis in the devil's snare, which won the english-speaking union prize for the best book in american studies.
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meanwhile in 1982 she co-edited an american history textbook called a people and a nation. which is now and i've just confirmed this with mary beth in its 11th edition and still in print 40 years. later. professor norton helped found the international federation for research in women's history in 1985. she was a presidential appointee the national council on the humanities. she served as president of the society of american historians and at another time as president of the american historical association, and she was elected pit professor of american history at cambridge. she has held fellowships from the national endowment for the humanities from the guggenheim rockefeller and starr foundations. and from the huntington library. in 1999. she was elected a fellow of the american academy of arts and sciences and she has received four honorary degrees over her career. so far as one of her colleagues
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said of her mary beth norton is a force of nature. in 2018 after 50 years of scholarly work and university teaching she retired. officially but she was not finished in 2020. she produced the book we celebrate tonight 1774 the long year of the revolution yet another tremendous achievement. it is impossible to do justice to such a career in just a few minutes. i can only say ladies and gentlemen, it is truly a privilege to introduce the winner of the 2021 george washington book prize professor mary beth, norton. now that description.
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thank you for that lovely lovely introduction. to jim basker who it's been fun sitting next to this evening. i am deeply honored to be won the lord the george washington prize for 2021. for my book 1774 the long year of revolution and i warmly think the gilder lehrman institute. the ladies association of mount vernon and washington college for this award. my title has mystified some readers. in employing the phrase the long year. i was alluding to historians
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convention of writing about the long 18th century to refer to a period of time that does not overlap exactly with such formal dates as 1700 to 1800. that is often the long 18th century. it said to begin in 1688 were there about and to end in 1815 with a nepeat of the feet of napoleon at waterloo. so for me and so for my book. 1774 begins in mid-december 1773 more or less if you read it. you'll see it kind of starts in october 1773 but really in mid-december 1773 and it ends on april 18th. 1775 it ends with gauges order to the troops to go to concord to get the guns and other supply stash there, so it fits neatly
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with my predecessor as a winner of the george washington prize. that is rick atkinson's book. my basic idea implemented in the book. was to focus intensively on developments throughout the mainland colonies in the period immediately preceding the outbreak of war. surprisingly enough few academic or popular writers who have studied the revolution have ever highlighted the importance of these same 16 months, even though such an emphasis might appear obvious to someone not familiar with scholarship on the revolution. but almost all earlier authors have instead stressed the roots of the conflict either long-standing disagreements between the colonies and great britain. dating back decades or discord that developed after the close of the seven years' war in 1763. they have all known how their story ended that is with the independence of the 13 colonies. and they have sought to explain
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that result by seeking its origins sometimes deep in the eight early decades of the 18th century. thus regardless of when these other books start their narratives or how the accounts are constructed other authors have consistently privileged the viewpoint of future leaders of the revolution. they have privileged their actions and their ideas to the near total exclusion of anyone else or any other topics. only in my book therefore do readers discover the arguments that colonists had among themselves over for example support for or criticism of the destruction of the east india company's tea in boston harbor. we would never know today that every bit americans argued over whether it was a good idea to throw the tea in the harbor. and it's appropriate to point out here that george washington himself was one of many critics
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of boston's action, even though he supported relief for the town after parliament passed the punitive act closing the port until the tea was paid for. and then they're followed the debate over whether or how to pay for the tea something. no one ever reads about today. in other words to try to convince parliament to remove the sanction on boston by paying for the team. maybe you should get everybody in massachusetts to pay for the team. maybe you should get everyone in the colonies to contribute to pay for the tea. never hear about that today, but it was often talked about in 1774 the issue roiled boston for months in 1774 and was finally not decided in the negative until late in the fall of 1774 after some had contended that an offer to compensate the company could be used as a bargaining ship to when repeal of other measures that the colonies wanted to get rid of again.
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nobody ever talks about this. except for me i also discussed the debate over whether there should be a continental congress. did you know there was an issue? should there be a continental congress it was? and then what that body should do once it was convened debates that again do not appear in other books. so in the book i give voice not just to the radical colonists most of them bostonians or at least new englanders, but also to the many moderates and conservatives of the middle colonies. as well as radical moderate and conservative southerners such people men and some women are absent from most narratives of this key period so much so that no context is ever established for them. even when such a person is mentioned in a standard narrative in passing that person seems to come literally out of nowhere. my very different account of these months has led some
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commentators to accuse me of presenting a loyalist view of the revolution. it's true as i explained in my introduction that my dissertation which won the nevins prize as mr. basker said was on the loyalist exiles who fled to england during the war and it was that dissertation that first convinced me that the events of the year 1774 brought about the crucial permanent divide in the american populist between loyalists and revolutionaries. it was not until i did this book though that i realized that the word loyalist was not used until 1774 but until you have a revolutionary situation the word loyalist is meaningless because it applies to everybody so it when loyalists people started to use the the term about themselves, it tells us something about what's going on. so rather than actually adopting the loyalist views i simply try to give them the equal time that other writers have denied them.
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and also to give attention to moderates like pennsylvania's joseph reed who wrote long letters to lord dartmouth the american secretary attempting to persuade him that is his assumptions about the colonies were incorrect. i was astonished when i found these letters from joseph reid, so in the book accordingly aim to present the arguments and dialogues of the year-long 1774 neutrally and to write the book as though i didn't know how the story came out. because of course no one in 1774 knew what would happen next and i thought that to bring the story to life the narrator of that history should not foresee the outcome either. so i'm very pleased with the judges of the george washington prize agreed with me that my novel approach to a seemingly familiar narrative offered new insights into that long year of 1774. thanks very much again for this award.
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attention ladies and gentlemen, please give a warrant. welcome to dr. doug bradber president and ceo of george, washington. a little more love people. come on. okay. well, good evening, everyone. there we go. there's the mount vernon crowd. what an exciting night it's been so far. this has been extraordinary. welcome back to mount vernon for the george washington prize. this is great. now this place exists. because the mount vernon ladies
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association saved it from disappearing. they took action about something they believed in that was of great value to our nation. and we're all thankful for it. now in doing so they save for us a connection. to something that george washington helped launch something that he called the great experiment in human happiness the birth of american democracy there you go. i like that guy. now george, washington understood a simple fact about the challenge really the problem of self-governance. as he noted in his farewell address. in proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion. it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened. let's think about that. in proportion to the structure
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of government gives forced to public opinion. it's essential that public opinion should be enlightened. what is the opposite of enlightened? darkness dullness ignorance and tonight is all about enlightenment. that's the spirit behind the support for this tremendous prize. our finalists for this prize are producing work that will make a lasting and positive impact. a positive impact on the education of our people bringing light to new stories that haven't been told well. the health of our culture and the strength of our democracy. that's the work we're doing in this effort tonight. so, thank you all for being here to support it. yes, i like this guy. yes. why shouldn't our historians get as much pomp and circumstance as our celebrities? let's go. come on.
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be celebrated like the stars they are. all right, so our mission here mount vernon is the preserve this iconic place to educate and inspire and i know the mission is as important as ever. you know around the world people are fighting for the kind of freedom that a lot of us have taken for granted. in our own nation glib cynicism ignorance stands in for thoughtful discourse. there's a lack of understanding of our history, which is prevalent everywhere. threatens our ability to pass on this precious inheritance and that i think is a critical problem. and a great purpose that we're all here together to share it. now i'm happy to say at mount vernon. we are thriving. in this age as we come out of the pandemic. we are the birthplace of historic preservation in america. we are getting close to nearly a hundred million visitors since
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1860. before covid of course, we had a million visitors a year with 400,000 school kids and i'm happy to say they are coming back. the neighbors are complaining about the buses again, and that's good news. for mount vernon we've got two museums with award-winning exhibits. we've got 18 historic structures from the 18th and 19th century. we have a working gristmill mill and distillery our whiskey. is celebrated as the spirit of the commonwealth of virginia if you haven't had it. i have some at my table come over and visit us. the name of it is george, washington's rye whiskey. unbelievable we have a presidential library for the study and scholarship at george washington and all sorts of public programs lectures symposium all year round. we've had over 170 research fellows since 2013 thousands of teachers come through there.
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our leadership program teaches leadership to corporate military and government groups. we need good leadership. now more than ever in this nation. and we can learn from george washington's example. now our reach our reach is broader than even the people who can come here social media channels youtube 8.4 million unique visitors in mount vernon.org in the last year. sorry, jim bascara, that's bigger than your number. it's nevertheless. we're all in the same game together. mount vernon.org in the past decade is welcome over 62 million people consumed over 158 million pages since its inception our digital encyclopedia 13.2 million people have accessed 1.3 million taken our virtual tour of mount vernon. and i'm happy to say our social media feeds continue to grow and so we're working hard to do that
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work to inspire people to educate people and we couldn't do any of it. without the great supporters of so many of you in this room tonight. so thank you once again for all that great support. i would like to say, you know, we we love our partners on this prize, but i want to particularly call out mr. lou larman this evening. who has been an inspiration to me and a great supporter of mount vernon. he himself is a wonderful scholar of lincoln of frederick douglass of george washington inspiration to all of us, and i know he's ailing and i and i want us to all extend our our thoughts and prayers out to him and his family and jim basker and the guilderland institute. they created something from nothing. which is one of the great powerhouses that teaches american history in this country without it. without it. this country would be in worse shape. the gilderland does incredible
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work. so thank you and let's all give a good round of applause for lou and his family. so without further ado though, let's get to the main event and that i'd like to invite my friends up here. i'd like to invite regent magnichols president jim basker director adam goodheart and director of the george washington leadership institute, joe stultz to join me on the stage. and we're going to celebrate the finalists for 2022 and announce the laureate of this year's george washington prize. so please join me on the stage. no not here i am versatility. so it falls to me to present.
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the first of the finalists for the 2022 george washington book prize and that book is perfecting the union national and state authority in the us constitution by max m edling. mr. edling gives readers a new framework for thinking about the founders priorities for our constitution with specific attention to the division of power between federal and state governments. his argument emphasizes the constitution as a document that that bound 13 sovereign states to act as a unit on the global stage rather than as a document to define a new nation or expand the role of the federal government. edling focuses on the body of scholarship used to interpret the constitution arguing that while the document changed the
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structure of national government. it did not change the purpose of the union which remained a political organization designed to manage the relations between american states on the one hand. and between american states and foreign powers on the other. edling's well written in accessible book turns looks at the period firmly in its historical moment rather than accepting as inevitable the ideas of nationhood national identity or democracy. how we view this edling argues is important to how we view our history our founding documents and the role of government today. and thank you. i'm adam. goodard from washington college and thanks to all of you for coming and to our host of mount vernon. i've been involved with this prize almost since it's inception and it always means a great deal to me to be here. but this year i feel that particularly and not just
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because we're coming back together for the first time and so long but also because i find myself thinking tonight of a photograph i have at home and it's a photograph that shows my father and my grandfather standing together just a few yards from where we are outside the cunningham gate in 1937. my grandfather was an immigrant from what's now you crane born in the first year of this century who came as a 21 year old through ellis island and when he had earned enough money to be able to take the family on a vacation the first place they came like so many families of new immigrants was here to mount vernon and they're in this picture. they are my father six years old. in 1937 with a pennant that says mount vernon and my grandfather the proud immigrant. and i think about what mount vernon went to them then my my grandfather the immigrant my father the son of the immigrant and i think what it meant to them. it means to all of us now. and thank you to mount vernon.
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and with that it's my great honor to present the second finalist for the 2022 george washington prize. julia. flavelle's the how dynasty the untold story of a military family and the women behind britain's wars for america. in this lively and engaging book the author tells the story of a remarkable british family whose name has been unfairly associated with ineptitude and failure. julie flavelle taps into the largely unread letters of the aristocratic caroline howe whose brothers george richard and william played central roles in britain's struggle to keep its american colonies. flavel digs into the roots of the family and reveals that the female house were key players not just an elevating the male house into leadership positions, but also in devising a secret peace plan just prior to the war's beginning as well as trying to salvage the family's reputation in its aftermath the
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how dynasty vividly depicts elite women's behind the scenes involvement in politics and diplomacy including caroline house memorable chess games which with benjamin franklin and turning these pages we enter a candlelit world of aristocratic ambition power and intrigue if you haven't guessed this is the book. perhaps most likely to be a netflix miniseries. is over there? good evening everyone. my name is joseph stoltz. i'm the director of the george washington leadership institute in the presidential library just across the street. not that it's a competition but it's my distinct pleasure to present the third book of tonight's finalist jeffrey h. hacker's minds and hearts the
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story of james, otis junior and mercy, otis warren. this is a dual biography of two siblings who are often overlooked, but were immensely important in the revolutionary war era author jeffrey h hacker elegantly shows how their intellectual strength and familial love for each other work to further their cause as a lawyer in politician james, otis jr. challenged the british custom search and seizure laws with fiery rhetoric later along with samuel adams. he rallied colonists against the stamp act, but his career was cut short by physical and mental infirmities. his sister mercy, otis warren took up the mantle as historian playwright and poet. her work appeared in the patriot. plus press influencing public opinion later her anti-federalist pamphlet observations on the new constitution fostered rigorous debate and assisted in the passage of the bill of rights. beautifully written the book shows how mercy otis warren was able to influence within the historical confines of her
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gender in her brother's case. it also shows the terrible afflictions of mind and body this period wrought on people who cared mightily about the struggle. it's my turn again. the fourth finalist falls to me and it is the book washington at the plow the founding father and the question of slavery by bruce a ragsdale. grounded in primary sources. this book walks readers through washington's education and experimentation and agriculture over his lifetime. that education came chiefly from english influences and eventually resulted in mount vernon's transition from tobacco to grains as well as utilization of the practice of crop rotation.
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using washington's own records ragsdale shows the impact of the agricultural innovations on farm labor. he also shows that the prophets washington wanted from his beloved farms could not be generated by using only enslaved labor. washington cared about his legacy and his place in history in his will he freed his slaves upon martha's death? ragsdale rights quote in his provision for the emancipation of enslaved people washington secured his reputation and affirmed his identification with enlightened advocates of improvement on both sides of the atlantic. but he left the nation no principled statement of opposition to slavery and no plan that might have encouraged other planters to end their reliance on enslaved labor. ragsdale's book may be the first full study of the evolution of washington's ideas on the subject through the prism of his
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role as first farmer. washington at the plow mr. ragsdale. where are you? and the fifth and last finalist for the 2022 george washington prize david o stewart's george washington the political rise of america's founding father. this new biography focuses on washington's life as a politician seen through the people and circumstances that shaped him. david stewart brings to the book both a master narrator's sense of story and a scholar's eye for detail. as stuart writes the middle-aged washington who took command of the continental army was almost unrecognizable compared to the young military officer of two decades before. stewart shows us how that inexperienced soldier grew up to become the general and president who so ably led his country in war and in peace.
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he also depicts the darker side of washington's power as an enslaver here at mount vernon. past writers have sometimes portrayed washington as a reluctant leader. stewart's book depicts an ambitious and savvy politician a person who's finesse at the delicate craft of statesmanship statesmanship has too often gone unrecognized. and that's it drumroll, please. and the winner is the winner of the 22 george washington prize is bruce a ragsdale for washington at the plow the founding farmer and the question of slavery?
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story. all right. thanks. thank you. to all of you. this is i this award is really one of the great honors of my lifetime.
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and i especially thank the heads of the three organizations of adam goodard of jim basker and doug bradburn. and i think the region for presenting me this ward and for everything else that mount vernon has done to help me. i'm writing this book was by far the most rewarding project of my career and i'm profoundly grateful to receive this recognition of my work. i'm all the more gratified to accept this award here at mount vernon, which has been such an important part of my professional life for a very very long time. at what i think was the very first george, washington's symposium at mount vernon in 1996. i was invited to present a paper on the needs and opportunities for research related to washington and his business affairs and i suggested then that there would be a great potential value in a book on washington and agricultural improvement.
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unfortunately, no one took my advice on that. and the topic was still there waiting for me when a fellowship at the washington library. i gave me the opportunity to initiate this book project after a very long career working with public history with the federal courts. i began this this project convinced that a narrative of washington's life is a innovative farmer, which spanned over four decades was the most important untold story about the most familiar of of the founders. i did not anticipate what i now think are some of the most important findings in this book, but i was certain as i still am that any full understanding of washington depends on an appreciation of his decided preference for his life as a farmer. um, he thought farming was the activity best suited to his disposition. he said it was far more rewarding than any string of
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military conquest could ever be um, it also is a side of his life in which he it's much easier to see the personal side of washington that he exposed himself revealed himself in a way that he didn't in his very guarded public life as a general and a president. and perhaps most important it is only in a comprehensive study of washington as a farmer that we can fully trace his changing attitudes toward the institution of slavery and also his relationship with many of the nearly 600 enslaved individuals who lived in labored under his control over the course of his lifetime. but for me was also never just a private enterprise for washington, and it was certainly not the gentlemanly pastime that it has some time been dismissed as historians in the past. and it was instead. i think one of one more way in
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which washington tried to direct the direction of growth in the nation that he had done so much to create. he was very focused on how the most nation would emerge from the whole of an old empire how it would deal with dramatic changes wrote by the revolutionary war. and many of those had to do with his specific program of farming. he was convinced that the transition to wheat would open up new markets outside the empire and that it also would provide a common commercial interest that would unite the state's following independence. he promoted props that he thought would unlock the potent agricultural potential that he thought was going to be one of the most important sources of the respectability and influence of of the new united states and his unique emphasis on stewardship of the land and his emphasis on the fertility of the soil something in which he was almost two centuries ahead of
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his time. was not just about increasing productivity of the crops that he planted in his fields, but it was also where that he thought would promote a political stability by encouraging a much more settlement of western lands. among american farmers washington was at the forefront of those who wanted to adopt the cultivation methods that it completely transformed british agricultural and middle decades of the 18th century. and what turned out to be some of the most enjoyable research of this entire project i decided to learn about that new husbandry of great britain the way washington had learned about it, which was by reading the british agricultural treatises that he gathered in his library. i had an enormous advantage in doing this because i was mount vernon is inaugural fellow with the georgian papers program, and i was able to spend two months at the royal archives at windsor castle going through the records
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mostly of ironically of king george the third who read the exact same books that washington read had just as ambitious program of agricultural improvement and who also consulted with the same agricultural leaders in england and scotland with whom washington correspondent. this perspective was an invaluable in helping me to make sense of what turned out to be one of the most surprising findings of the research. everyone knows that washington was interested in british agriculture, but the surprise is that he became more committed to the british model of agriculture and he became more contemptuous of american farming in the years after independence from great britain. and is influential british correspondents really became his most important confidants and they expected washington to make a major contribution toward this shared project of agricultural
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improvement, which they thought and he thought would help to establish peaceful ties between the two nations. the same time washington also faced the expectations of abolitionists who hoped to extend the revolutionary principles of individual liberty. to several hundred thousand blacks who remained enslaved in the united states lafayette who thought washington's greatest contributions to the success of the new republic would come in his civic leadership even more than what he had contributed as a military leader. he proposed that washington's first project following the revolutionary war would be to join him in an experiment to educate enslaved laborers to support themselves as free and self-sufficient tenants, but lafayette was only the first in the succession of prominent abolitionists from france from great britain, and and from the united states who appealed to washington convinced that his support for their cause and his
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emancipation of the enslaved people. he controlled would still increased support for the abolition of slavery. but washington he offered a few very guarded comments of how his qualified support for gradual abolition. and in what became the most surprising finding in my research. i found that far from transitioning away from enslaved labor as he had considered doing during the revolutionary war washington after 1785 becomes more exclusively reliant on enslaved labor. to carry out the massive tasks of reinventing mount vernon as a kind of british state. but in those years he did change the management of enslaved labor in both principal and practice and tried to make some amendments to eliminate the most brutal aspects of the institution of slavery. in one regard must notably he developed a highly original
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system of accounting for a labor that he hoped would make supervision more rational and humane and eliminate the need for any kind of threat of physical punishment. he ultimately failed in that effort after seven or eight years. there could be no good. slaveholder slavery could not be improved or ameliorated in the language of the time and washington resolved to emancipate the enslaved people. he owned not in direct response to the appeal of abolitionists, but rather in his recognition at the ideal of rural life and agricultural bounty that had attracted him to the british culture of improvement would always remain conflict with a system of labor that rested on coercion and a denial of individual liberty. but again, it was only in his plans for yet another reorganization of farming at mount vernon that washington indicated his intention to as he said liberate a certain species
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of property to emancipate the slaved people that he controlled and he would do it by reinventing the farms in his plan was to lease the individual farms at mount vernon to experience british farmers who would carry on his agriculturally innovations and experiments without enslaved labor. it was an improbable scheme from its inception and washington, never found suitable farmers or ever found the rental income that he considered a prerequisite for freeing the enslaved but the plan which i think has really first been laid out in this book and a plan to which he devoted enormous amount of thor thought is the best surviving evidence of how washington thought a large virginia state like his own might prosper without slavery emancipation of course would instead come through washington's will in which he guaranteed freedom to more the more than 120 individuals. he owned.
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um, but the in the absence of any principled statement opposition to slavery the example of washington did little to resolve the contradiction of slavery and freedom that remains the most difficult challenge of understanding the legacy of the founders. the narrative of the lifetime of farming offers, i think a far richer and unexpected portrait of washington from this eventual reckoning with slavery to his most visionary hopes for the commercial prosperity of the new nation and i hope this book has demonstrated that farming is essential to understanding the individual and essential to understanding his expectations for the nation he had done so much to create. thank you and well done. thank you. well congratulations brews.
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congratulations to all our finalists extraordinary work. a few notes we will have books for sale for everyone who would like one and the authors i would invite you to work your way over there as we close the evening to sign these books as they're sold. and let's finish this all this evening off with the bang. i want to welcome up to the stage miss hillary carter west's vice region from washington, dc. good evening. so first of all, thank you. thank you. thank you for all of you who have been here tonight. congratulations to our winners. our finalists. it is truly been a wonderful evening. so i am hillary carter west i am the vice regent for the district of columbia. and as i expect many of you know a tradition we have here at
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mount vernon is to conclude our evening with a hooza in 18th century celebratory toast. the two important ingredients for this to make it very successful. are a full glass? and plenty of enthusiasm so audience participation is key here. so i say all that to say that when i give the toast and when prompted by me. with a hip hip i hope you will raise your glasses in respond with a resounding and cheerful celebratory. who's up. okay. so with that. no need to stand. born in the age of reason george washington was a part of a generation that could access information with greater ease than ever before.
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printed books almanacs pamphlets lectures sermons and newspapers these works introduced innovative ideal. political philosophy and modern science washington followed these conversations eagerly always reading to better himself. and in doing so understanding that the foundation of a healthy democracy and engage citizenry was based on a literate society. he corresponded with authors and friends in america in europe. exchanging ideas that fed the ongoing agricultural social and political revolutions of his day. more importantly a committed himself educating the next generation. and supported public academies colleges and universities throughout the new nation. by the end of his life. he had come to see the advancement of knowledge as a
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national priority. tonight we honor those who have dedicated their lives to learning and contributing to the education of others. there is no better place to celebrate that success than here. the home of america's founding father and greatest citizen ladies and gentlemen please raise your glass. to george, washington hip hip thank you. cheers.
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hello a speaker of the house. it is my privilege to welcome you all to this celebration of all inspiring courage and resilience today we gather virtually to bestow congress's highest honor the congressional gold medal on nearly 3,000 american heroes, meryl marauders. let us salute the family and friends who have continued to tell the story of these brave warriors and educated for the recognition they deserve thank you to the us army lea

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