Inaugural Carl B. Menges Colloquium

Pursuant to the Alexander Hamilton Institute’s initial three year plan, the theme of AHI’s first annual colloquium was devoted to the meaning of freedom. More than 140 guests—students, scholars, philanthropists, civic leaders, and entrepreneurs—attended the inaugural dinner of the AHI on Thursday evening, 10 April, at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino.  The evening’s event, which included a sumptuous feast, also honored special guests and steadfast supporters of the AHI. Its founders—Douglas Ambrose, James Bradfield, and Robert Paquette—spoke briefly on the past, present, and future of the AHI with special attention to future initiatives.

Below you will find video of the opening remarks by then-president of the AHI, J. Hunter Brown; charter fellows Douglas Ambrose, James Bradfield, and Robert Paquette; and distinguished AHI board member, and the colloquium’s namesake, Carl B. Menges.

John Stauffer, Professor English and American Literature and Language at Harvard University and a prize-winning author, provided a keynote address, seen in the video below, entitled “Gerrit Smith, and the Ambiguities of Social Reform.” Smith, arguably Hamilton College’s most influential and famous graduate, was graduated in 1818, valedictorian of his class. He converted to the cause of abolitionism in the 1830s, he founded the Liberty Party, served in Congress, funded John Brown’s attack on Harper’s Ferry, and emerged as perhaps the foremost philanthropist in the transatlantic world during the antebellum period.

Professor Stauffer’s keynote address will inaugurate an annual lecture series by the AHI, named in honor of Carl Menges, a distinguished member of the AHI’s Board of Directors.

After Professor Stauffer’s stirring address, colloquium attendees intensively discussed a set of prescribed readings featuring the unpublished correspondence between Smith and George Fitzhugh, one of the most brilliant and original slavery apologists. Each session focused on a major theme in the correspondence. Themes included the nature of man, Christianity and slavery,  the meaning of freedom, the idea and institution of property, capitalism and its alternatives, as well as race and slavery.