) April 10, 2008 -- Students from Harvard, Hamilton College, and Colgate University will attend an innovative educational experiment during the debut of The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, Inc. at Turning Stone Resort in Vernon, New York.
“ Gerrit Smith and the Ambiguities of Social Reform ”
The colloquium, April 11-12, will focus on the writings of Gerrit Smith, a leading abolitionist and perhaps the foremost philanthropist of his generation, and George Fitzhugh, an elite Virginian intellectual and proslavery apologist. Gerrit Smith was graduated from Hamilton in 1818 as valedictorian and become a leading abolitionist. He founded the Liberty Party, served in Congress, and funded John Brown's attack on Harper's Ferry. George Fitzhugh was one of the most brilliant and original southern polemicists. Related by marriage, Smith and Fitzhugh engaged in an extensive and polite correspondence that speaks not only to the civilizational struggle between North and South that led to the Civil War, but to fundamental questions about the human condition. Each session will focus on a major theme in the correspondence: the nature of Man, Christianity and slavery, the meaning of freedom, property and property in Man, capitalism and its alternatives, and race and slavery.
The colloquium will assemble fifteen persons from different walks of life with different talents who have expertise relevant to the subject at hand. Participants will include a judge, a Methodist minister with a Ph. D. in political science, an award-winning high school
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teacher, a museum curator as well as several of the most influential historians of our time. Sixty students from Harvard University, Hamilton College, and Colgate University will attend each session with assignments related to the discussion and a prescribed set of readings. They will interact with the conferees during the sessions. Prizes will be awarded to the student in each class who writes the best paper.
A kick-off banquet for the AHI will precede the colloquium on the evening of April 10. John Stauffer, Professor English and American Literature and Language
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at Harvard University and a prize-winning author, will provide a keynote address "Gerrit Smith and the Ambiguities of Social Reform" to more than 130 invited guests, including students, faculty, alumni, and philanthropists.
The AHI's colloquium and kick-off dinner, which will take place at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Vernon, New York, is funded by generous grants from the Watson-Brown Foundation and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Professors Stauffer and Douglas Ambrose, one of the three founders of the Institute and Associate Professor of History at Hamilton College, will edit and publish the remarkable correspondence of Gerrit Smith and George Fitzhugh.
For more information about the program please see:
or contact Robert L. Paquette, Colloquium Director, James Bradfield or J. Hunter Brown at 203-762-2065.
The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, Inc.("AHI") is an independent public benefit corporation and is a tax-exempt organization within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The AHI is unaffiliated with Hamilton College.