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Pre-July 2009 Press Archives

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2/18/2008 Basker lecture to open Hamilton exhibition

press image McMINNVILLE – James G. Basker, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and The Richard Gilder Professor of Literary History at Barnard College, Columbia University, and the project director for the exhibit, "Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America,” will open the exhibit's run at Linfield College with a lecture on Thursday, March 6.

Basker will speak on "Forgotten Abolitionists: Antislavery Writers in Hamilton's Era" Thursday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m. in the Jereld R. Nicholson at Linfield College.

The lecture is the first of three that will be held in conjunction with “Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America,” a traveling exhibit that will be on display at the Nicholson Library through April 18. Linfield is the only location for this exhibit in the Pacific Northwest.

Basker will give present a brief discussion of Hamilton and his world, making the point that the many antislavery writers from the founding era have been largely forgotten. He will concentrate on specific authors including Timothy Dwight, Sarah Wentworth, Apthorp Morton, Phillis Wheately, Joel Barlow, David Humphreys, and Jupiter Hammon.

Basker was educated at Harvard College and Cambridge University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. He taught at Harvard for seven years before moving to Barnard in 1987. His scholarly work spans the fields of history and literature, focusing especially on the 18th century and the history of slavery and abolition. He has published several books, the most recent of which are "Amazing Grace: An Anthology of Poems about Slavery 1660-1810," "Early American Abolitionists: A Collection of Anti-Slavery Writings 1760-1820," and "Slavery in the Founding Era: Literary Contexts."

As president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute for the past 10 years, Basker has overseen the development of history education initiatives nationwide, including history high schools, teacher seminars, traveling exhibitions, publication series, scholarly fellowships, research centers, and national history teacher of the year awards. A former fellowship holder at the American Antiquarian Society, Yale University, and Cambridge University, Basker is an elected member of the Society of American Historians, and a trustee of both the Lincoln and Soldiers Institute at Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Center on Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale.

"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.