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Pre-July 2009 Press Archives

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4/4/2008 Lecture to explore why Alexander Hamilton was "dangerous"

McMINNVILLE – Seth Cotlar, associate professor of history at Willamette University, will present the final in a series of lectures on Alexander Hamilton, titled "Why Did the Democrats of the 1790s Hate Alexander Hamilton so much?" Tuesday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m. in the Nicholson Library at Linfield College.

His lecture is the third and final 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.

His lecture will come from his research and writing on the rank-and-file Democrats of the 1790s, a group of people who viewed Hamilton as probably the most dangerous man in the nation. They saw him as an enemy to popular democracy, a plutocrat bent on creating a wider gulf between the rich and the poor and a corrupt advisor who encouraged Washington to protect the interest of wealthy speculators over those of ordinary Americans. Cotlar will explore the reasons Hamilton was so reviled and how his bad reputation should be viewed today.

Cotlar has taught at Willamette since 2000. He previously taught at Northwestern University and spent two years teaching high school in Indonesia. He has a bachelor's in history from Brown University and a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern. He is currently writing "Making Democracy Safe for America: The Rise and Fall of Trans-Atlantic Radicalism in the Early American Republic." He is the author of numerous articles and presentations and is a manuscript reviewer for the Journal of Southern History, Journal of the Early Republic and Oxford University Press.

"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.