Talk Inaugurates George Washington Book Prize Lecture Series
Chestertown, MD, August 12, 2005 — Historian and author Ron Chernow, recipient of the inaugural George Washington Book Prize for his 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton, will speak on "Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Imagined Modern America," Thursday, September 15, at 5 p.m. in the College's Tawes Theatre. A book signing will be held at 4:30 p.m. This is the first of the annual George Washington Book Prize Lectures to honor winners of the prize. The event is free and open to the public.
Mr. Chernow, who accepted the award in May at a ceremony at Mount Vernon, examines the contentious and multifaceted political and financial genius who served as George Washington's aide-de-camp, became a Revolutionary War battlefield hero and Constitutional Convention delegate, co-authored The Federalist Papers and served as the nation's first Secretary of the Treasury. Although his life was cut short in a tragic duel, Hamilton left to America a political and economic vision that continues to shape the nation.
An honors graduate of Yale and Cambridge, Mr. Chernow is recognized as one of the most distinguished commentators on politics and business in America today and has been hailed by Newsday as "one of today's best writers of history and biography." In addition to Alexander Hamilton, Mr. Chernow has authored several critically-acclaimed works, including The House of Morgan, which took the National Book Award as the best non-fiction book of 1990, The Warburgs (1993), The Death of the Banker (1997), and Titan (1998), a biography of John D. Rockefeller. A frequent contributor to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, Mr. Chernow is a familiar figure on national radio and on television news and documentaries. He and his wife Valerie live in Brooklyn, New York.
The George Washington Book Prize was conceived by Washington College's C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience—in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and George Washington's Mount Vernon—to recognize outstanding published works that contribute to a greater understanding of the life and career of George Washington and/or the founding era. At $50,000, the George Washington Book Prize is the nation's largest literary prize for early American history—far greater than those accompanying prestigious literary awards such as the Pulitzer Prize for History at $7,500, the National Book Award at $10,000 and the Bancroft Prize at $10,000.
"The creation of the George Washington Book Prize is a tremendously exciting project for Washington College, Mount Vernon and the Gilder Lehrman Institute," said Ted Widmer, Director of the College's C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. "We hope that it will bring alive the founding era for all of our constituencies—students, alumni, history lovers and readers everywhere. Ron Chernow's biography of Hamilton is a great first recipient, because it restores the influence of a great neglected founder, and it also reminds us how much we owe to his patron, the founder-in-chief."
Support for the annual prize is provided by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate.
Founded in 1994 by two New York business and philanthropic leaders, Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute sponsors a wide range of educational programs for both teachers and students, with a commitment to promoting "the study and the love of American history." Headquartered in New York City, the Institute uses its impressive collection of rare historic documents to encourage history education and new scholarship through exhibitions, publications, and other outreach programs. The Institute has established similar prizes for scholarly books written about the Civil War era and African American history. The Lincoln Prize was created in 1990 in conjunction with the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College, and the Frederick Douglass Prize in 1999 in cooperation with the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University.
The oldest national preservation organization in America, the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association has owned and managed the home of George Washington for nearly 150 years, opening its doors annually to approximately one million people. The George Washington Book Prize is an important component in the Association's aggressive outreach program, which engages millions of teachers and students throughout the nation.
Established in 1782, Washington College holds the special distinction of being the only institution of higher learning that the first president patronized during his lifetime. Washington donated fifty guineas to the school, gave his consent for it to be named in his honor, and served on its Board of Visitors and Governors.
For more information about the George Washington Book Prize, visit gwprize.washcoll.edu.