Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Visiting Historian Explores Role of the Public and Limits of Power in Continental Congress


CHESTERTOWN, MD—Historian Benjamin Irvin will discuss a little known event involving Martha Washington when he delivers the annual Guy F. Goodfellow Memorial Lecture at Washington College on Tuesday evening, April 5. Irvin’s lecture, “The Republican’s New Clothes: The Continental Congress Learns to Live by Its Own Articles of Association, 1774-1775,” will take place at 7 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall, Toll Science Center, on the College campus. A book signing will follow.
Irvin, who teaches history at the University of Arizona, will delve into an episode involving the Continental Congress and the local patriots of Philadelphia in 1775. In late November of that year, Congress members planned a ball in honor of Martha Washington, who would soon pass through the city on her journey to meet her husband, who was stationed in Cambridge. Why did this simple night of dancing provoke some Philadelphians to threaten to tear down the City Tavern? Irvin’s answer illuminates the state of the Continental Congress and its powers and limitations in the early days of our country’s life.
Irvin is the author of two books, Clothed in Robes of Sovereignty: The Continental Congress and the People Out of Doors (Oxford University Press, 2011) and Samuel Adams: Son of Liberty, Father of Revolution (Oxford University Press, 2002), as well as numerous articles and reviews. He is also the recipient of many fellowships in the area of American history, including the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship from the McNeil Center for Early American Studies (2003-2005) and the Kate B. and Hall J. Peterson Fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society (2000).
The Guy F. Goodfellow Memorial Lecture was established in 1989 in honor of a history professor who had taught at Washington College for 30 years. The endowed lecture series brings distinguished historians to campus to speak and interact with students in emulation of Dr. Goodfellow’s vibrant teaching style.

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