Image courtesy of Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown.

Friday, September 21, 2012

2012 Revolutionary War Lecture Series


YORKTOWN, Va., August 2012 – History professors and authors Fred Anderson of the University of Colorado, Abner (Woody) Linwood Holton III of the University of Richmond and John Tilley of East Carolina University will join Yorktown Victory Center Senior Curator Sarah Meschutt in presenting this year’s Revolutionary War lecture series on Saturday evenings, September 22 and 29 and October 6 and 27, at the Yorktown Victory Center’s Richard S. Reynolds Foundation Theater.

The free public 7 p.m. lectures are supported with private donations, including a grant from Dominion Resources for the Anderson lecture. Advance reservations are recommended by calling (757) 253-4572 or e-mailing The Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution, is located at State Route 1020 and the Colonial Parkway.

Sarah Meschutt starts the series on September 22 with “Patriots Claim a New Destiny; Loyalists Defend Their Heritage in the United States of America.” Framing the American Revolution as a watershed period that shaped lives in new ways and offered immense opportunities for those with powerful networking skills and ingenuity, Dr. Meschutt explores the causes for which Loyalists and Patriots fought and died and their lives in the aftermath of the war.

On September 29, Fred Anderson presents “‘Like the peace of God, it passeth all understanding’: The Peace of Paris (1763) and the Unforeseeable American Revolution.” Looking through the prism of a futurist novel published in 1763 that envisions ongoing 19th- and 20th-century wars with France, and later Russia, along with a slow decline of British power, Dr. Anderson explains why, at what is often understood as the dawn of the Revolutionary era, even the most pessimistic of English political writers assumed that the future of the North American colonies would be distinguished by perpetual peace and loyalty to the empire.

John Tilley will speak October 6 on the “Battle of the Capes,” which was critical to Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown in 1781 and the collapse of the British commitment to the war. Dr. Tilley will explore factors that impacted the battle, including personal relationships between key British commanders and communications problems that helped force Cornwallis’ surrender.

The series concludes October 27 with “Origins of the Constitution,” presented by Woody Holton. Drawing from his book “Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution,” Dr. Holton finds present-day parallels in the crisis that led to the U.S. Constitution, pointing out that a deepening recession, skittish investors, an insurmountable federal debt, anti-tax protests and falling real estate values were the very challenges that led to the ratification of the Constitution 224 years ago.

Fred Anderson’s (September 29) extensive writings about the Seven Years’ War include the books “The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War” (2005) and “Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766” (2000). He is co-author, with Andrew Cayton, of “The Dominion of War: Empire and Liberty in North America,” 1500-2000 (2005). Dr. Anderson earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University and has worked since 1983 at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he is Professor of Distinction and Director of Honors in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Woody Holton’s (October 27) “Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution” (2007), was a finalist for the National Book Award. A two-time winner of the Virginia Literary Award for Non-Fiction, Dr. Holton also is author of “Abigail Adams” (2009), winner of the Bancroft Prize, and “Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia” (1999). Dr. Holton received a Ph.D. from Duke University and is professor of history and American Studies at the University of Richmond.

Sarah Meschutt (September 22) has worked as senior curator at the Yorktown Victory Center since 2008, with a key role in planning new permanent gallery exhibits. She previously was chief curator of art collections at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, consulting curator for the collections at Kykuit House in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., and keeper of edged weapons at the Royal Armouries Museum, H.M. Tower of London She has a Ph.D. from Oxford University.

John Tilley (October 6) is author of “The British Navy and the American Revolution” (1985) and “The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary: A History” (1992). He joined the faculty of East Carolina University, where he is associate professor of history, in 1983. He previously was assistant curator of collections at The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News and earned a Ph.D. from Ohio State University.

The Yorktown Victory Center chronicles the American Revolution, from colonial unrest to the formation of the new nation, through gallery exhibits and historical interpretation at re-creations of a Continental Army encampment and 1780s farm. Under the administration of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, a Virginia state agency, the museum is undergoing a transformation with a new facility and expanded exhibits and will be known at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown when the project is complete. The Yorktown Victory Center remains open to visitors daily while work is under way. For more information, visit or call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838.

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