Eminent Historian Named a Senior Fellow at College


Acclaimed historian Richard Beeman, winner of the 2010 George Washington Book Prize, has recently joined the Washington College community as a Senior Fellow of both the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and the

Richard Beeman

Institute for Religion, Politics and Culture (IRPC). In his new role, Beeman will offer a special four-week series of public talks at the College this fall. The series, “Inventing a Nation,” will provide attendees a crash course in the dramatic highs and lows of America’s first 25 years.

One of the nation’s leading historians of America’s revolutionary and early national experience, Beeman has been a member of the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania for 43 years and has served as Chair of the Department of History and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He is a member of the scholarly advisory board of the American Revolution Center and is a Trustee of the National Constitution Center.

Beeman joins former Senator Birch Bayh as a Senior Fellow at the Starr Center. He will serve as a resource for the Washington College community, mentoring high-achieving students and leading public programs.

“Rick is a captivating lecturer, a brilliant scholar and a superb teacher,” says Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the Starr Center. “His two previous appearances here were among the best events we’ve ever hosted. He, in turn, has greatly enjoyed his visits to Chestertown. I was thrilled when he approached us about developing an ongoing relationship with Washington College.”

“Having a scholar of the international prominence of Richard Beeman as a Senior Fellow is a great honor and a tremendous addition to the Institute,” adds Joseph Prud’homme, Director of the IRPC. “Rick will be an invaluable resource for our students.”

Beeman, likewise, says he is “greatly honored” to be affiliated with the Starr Center and IRPC. “I have long been an admirer of their superb public programs. I look forward to my association with the students and faculty at Washington College,” he says, “and I hope that I will be able to contribute something useful to the intellectual life at the College.”

Beeman won the George Washington Book Prize in 2010 for Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution (Random House, 2009), which the jurors praised as “the fullest and most authentic account of the Constitutional Convention ever written.” He is also the author of five other books on revolutionary America, including The Penguin Guide to the American Constitution (Penguin, 2010) and Patrick Henry: A Biography (McGraw-Hill, 1974), which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

He is currently at work on a “prequel” to Plain, Honest Men. Also set in Independence Hall, the new book focuses on the Continental Congress’s often acrimonious two-year debate over the question of independence. Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor: Americans Choose Independence is scheduled to be published by Random House in 2013.

Over the course of his career, Beeman has received numerous awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and the Huntington Library. He has served as a Fulbright Professor in the United Kingdom and as Harmsworth Distinguished Professor of American History at Oxford University.

The four talks in Beeman’s “Inventing a Nation” series will take place in the College’s Decker Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on consecutive Tuesdays as follows:

October 18, “The Founders and the Myth of the ‘Original Meaning’ of the Constitution”

October 25, “The Founders, Religion, and Separation of Church and State”

November 1, “The Creation of the Bill of Rights”

November 8, “Sex, Lies, and the Founders: The American Presidency, Democracy, and the Media”

More details will be announced in September.

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