The Alexander Hamilton Institute proudly announces receipt of a $36,000 grant from the Watson-Brown Foundation. The gift will be used to support the AHI’s kick-off colloquium, “Liberty and Slavery: The Civil War between Gerrit Smith and George Fitzhugh,” which will take place at the Turning Stone Resort, April 10-12, in Vernon, New York. The Turning Stone, a few miles from the Hamilton College campus, boasts the finest accommodations in upstate New York. Please mark your calendars. We encourage supporters of the AHI to attend. The event will be used as a major fundraiser for the AHI and will feature an educational experiment in cooperative learning between scholars and public intellectuals as well as undergraduates from three colleges and universities (Harvard University, Colgate University, and Hamilton College). In commenting on the award, the founders of the AHI pointed to the preeminent stature of the Watson-Brown Foundation in supporting educational initiatives in southern history and culture. “That the foundation would direct this kind of award to Yankee land,” said Robert Paquette, “speaks loudly about the specific quality of this innovative project and provides a stamp of approval to the mission of our fledgling institute. We thank Tad Brown and the foundation’s board for their endorsement and look forward to working with them on the event.”
On Thursday night Professor John Stauffer of Harvard University, a prize-winning author, will speak on Gerrit Smith, arguably Hamilton College’s most famous alumnus. Smith was graduated from Hamilton College in 1818, valedictorian of his class. He founded the Liberty Party, served in Congress, funded John Brown at Harper’s Ferry, and emerged as perhaps the foremost philanthropist in the transatlantic world during the antebellum period.
On the occasion of Professor Stauffer’s lecture, the founders of the AHI will announce several additional educational initiatives that will honor the generosity of Jane Fraser, David Nelson, E. M.(Peter) Bakwin, Howard Morgan, and Carl Menges. We intend to keep these honors and initiatives a secret until the evening of April 10th.
Our colloquium will begin on Friday morning (April 11) and continue until Saturday afternoon (April 12). During six sessions of 1 hour and 45 minutes each, the colloquium attendants–fifteen persons in all–will intensively discuss a set pf prescribed readings that will feature the unpublished correspondence between Gerrit Smith and George Fitzhugh, one of the most brilliant and original proslavery apologists. Smith and Fitzhugh, as it turns out, were related by marriage, and their civil, curious, and penetrating letters not only speak to the civilizational struggle between North and South that led to the Civil War but to the meaning of freedom and other fundamental questions about the human condition.
Professor Stauffer, Professor Pete Banner-Haley of Colgate, and AHI co-founder Doug Ambrose will bring classes (about seventy students) to the colloquium. Each class will enter the colloquium having read the prescribed readings and bearing a written assignment related to them. At the end of each of the six sessions,the undergraduates will ask questions of the scholars. Prizes will be awarded to the student in each class who writes the best paper. Professor Ambrose and Professor Stauffer have previously agreed to edit and publish the Smith-Fitzhugh correspondence.
Colloquium participants will include a rare appearance by Eugene D. Genovese, one of the most influential historians of his generation and an expert on George Fitzhugh.
We will have more detailed information including a schedule of events and list of participants in the days ahead. If you are interested in attending the event, please contact us through this website or firstname.lastname@example.org.