Her lecture is the second of three being held in conjunction with “Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America,” a traveling exhibit that is on display at the Nicholson Library through April 18. Linfield is the only location for this exhibit in the Pacific Northwest.
Oberg will re-frame the underlying question of the Hamilton exhibit, "Who Made Modern America?" by asking "What made modern America?" She will argue that it was the disputes, dialogues and conversations of the great figures in American history, in particular Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, that makes America. The ability of American political culture to allow for debate and disagreement in a relatively civil way should be the foundation for modern America, and Hamilton and Jefferson are the epitome of this political culture. The 1790s were a time of partisan politics and ideological disagreement, but the Hamiltonian-Jeffersonian legacy of this period is one of the constructive clashes of ideas and values. Oberg will focus on their service together in George Washington's cabinet, Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury and Jefferson as Secretary of State in the 1790s, the election of 1800, and Hamilton's views on Jefferson's first year as president of the United States.
Oberg previously served as editor of the Papers of Benjamin Franklin at Yale University. She is co-author with Doron Ben-Atar of "Federalists Reconsidered" and with Harry S. Stout of "Benjamin Franklin, Jonathan Edwards, and the Representation of American Culture." She received her A.B. from Wellesley College and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has held fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, the Library Company of Philadelphia and the National Endowment for the Humanities. A past president of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, she also served as president of the Association for Documentary Editing. She serves on the Council of the Omohundro Institute for Early American History at William and Mary and on the Board of Trustees of Colonial Williamsburg. For the academic year 2008-09, she will be the R. Stanton Avery Senior Fellow at the Henry E. Huntington Library in Pasadena, Calif.
"Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America” tells the story of Hamilton’s astonishing rise in five short years from an orphaned, 15-year-old West Indies immigrant to George Washington’s wartime aide, and later, Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton was a complex and controversial figure – a Revolutionary War patriot and soldier, financial and legal genius, and an ardent opponent of slavery. He was the chief architect of many of the financial, political and legal institutions so familiar to Americans today.
The exhibit was organized by the New-York Historical Society, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the American Library Association. It has been made possible in part through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is also funded by the Office of Academic Affairs and by the Friends of Nicholson Library.
For more information, contact Susan Barnes Whyte, college librarian, 503-883-2517.