In 2019, the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) established an annual Columbus Day lecture to combat a growing body of ill-informed and often venomous historical misinformation about Columbus that had moved from the margins of college campuses into the public square.  This year’s lecturer, Carol Delaney, Emerita Professor of Anthropology, Stanford University, ranks as one of this country’s leading authorities on the religious dimensions of Columbus’s exploits.  In “Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem,” she examines the complex of motives, religious and secular, that motivated his transatlantic explorations.


Dr. Delaney “received an MTS from Harvard Divinity School and a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Chicago and is a graduate of Boston University. She was the assistant director of the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard, and a visiting professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Brown University.”

She is the author of Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem:  How Religion Drove the Voyages that Led to America (Free Press, 2012).  The Pulitzer-prize-winning historian Gordon Wood has described the book as a” new and provocative interpretation of Columbus. Carol Delaney uses her training as a cultural anthropologist to brilliantly explicate Columbus’s strange, apocalyptic world. By being more sensitive to the differentness of the past than most historians, she has written a remarkable work of history, and one that is utterly accessible” to the public.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued a proclamation in 1937 making Columbus Day a national holiday.  “The voyage of Christopher Columbus and his diminutive fleet toward the unknown west was not only a prelude to a new historical era,” he observed, “it was the culmination of years of bold speculation, careful preparation, and struggle against opponents who had belittled his great plan and thwarted its execution.”  In a year when “our own republic [was] girding itself for the defense of its institutions, we can revitalize our faith and renew our courage by a recollection of the triumph of Columbus after a period of grievous trial.”

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Mary Grabar Delivers Second Annual Columbus Day Lecture—October 12, 2020

AHI President Robert Paquette, “Let’s Not Say Goodbye to Columbus,” October 12, 2020