CHESTERTOWN – Historian Richard Beeman, author of one of the most comprehensive biographies of Patrick Henry ever produced, will explore the life and legacy of this Revolutionary patriot and noted statesman at Washington College’s Hynson Lounge, Hodson Commons, on Tuesday, April 6, at 5:00 pm.
Patrick Henry is an icon in the national imagination, but most Americans’ knowledge of his life begins and ends with his famous, and possibly apocryphal, call for “liberty or death.” Though he is remembered primarily as a great orator, Henry had a vibrant intellectual life and was a sophisticated political philosopher. In the talk, Beeman will address the complexities of Henry’s approach to religion, politics, and the federal Constitution, which he considered an “extremely pernicious, impolitic, and dangerous” departure from revolutionary principles.
Beeman is Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of several books on revolutionary America, including Patrick Henry: A Biography (1974), a finalist for the National Book Award. His most recent book, Plain Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution, published by Random House, is a finalist for the 2010 George Washington Book Prize– co-sponsored by Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Beeman recently appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to discuss the book and the compromises surrounding the drafting of the Constitution.
Former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, Beeman is a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center and serves as Vice-Chair of the Center's Distinguished Scholars Panel. He is also a member of the scholarly advisory board of the American Revolution Center. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Huntington Library, and he has served as Vyvian Harmsworth Distinguished Professor of American History at Oxford University.
Beeman’s talk is cosponsored by the Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture of the Louis L. Goldstein Program in Public Affairs and the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, and is free and open to the public.