The Alexander Hamilton Institute has awarded its second annual E. M. (Peter) Bakwin Fellowship to Dr. Christopher Hill, who will be leaving his position as visiting assistant professor of history at Hamilton College in May. Before departure, Professor Hill received the Sidney Wertimer award, given by Hamilton College’s  Student Assembly. The annual award recognizes a faculty member “who is recognized as a mentor and active participant within the Hamilton community.”

Professor Hill received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Texas, Austin, in 2008.  His dissertation reexamined the celebrated struggle between Henry II of England and  Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas a Becket by analyzing the thinking of Becket’s key clerical opponent Gilbert Foliot.  A voluminous literature exists on this crisis in twelfth century England because of its implications for church-state relations.

The Bakwin Fellowship awards a stipend of $1600 for advanced research in regional archives and libraries on subjects that comport with the central concerns of the AHI as defined in its charter. Recipients of the award  reside, free of charge, for one summer month (June or July) in the Jane Fraser Room of the AHI’s headquarters, a historic mansion located in 21 West Park Row, Clinton, New York. A panel comprised of AHI fellows and trustees evaluated the applications.

Mr. Bakwin, a graduate of Hamilton College (1950) and the University of Chicago (1961), served as Chairman of the Board of MB Financial Bank in Chicago. Mr. Bakwin has had a long-standing interest in the history, literature, and art of Western culture.  His generosity has touched Hamilton College, the University of Chicago, Shimer College, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and many other institutions.

Professor Hill, a specialist in the origins of the common law, will use the Bakwin Fellowship to explore the pre-modern roots of the concept of liberty.  In particular, Professor Hill will explore how medieval thinkers understood and applied the concept of libertas.  This inquiry will feed into a larger contrarian project on what Professor Hill  contends is  the medieval origins of the liberal tradition.

The AHI congratulates Professor Hill and looks forward to his public presentation on the subject at the AHI.