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Speakers Bureau Partners with the American Independence Museum for Spring Lecture Series

By Nora Molloy, Speakers Bureau
February 20, 2008

Continuing the university’s mission to share our spirit of discovery, the Speakers Bureau is pleased to be partnering with the American Independence Museum in Exeter for their spring lecture series on March 12, 19 and 26.

“I know no way of judging of the future but by the past.” stated Patrick Henry of Virginia in 1775. Henry’s words ring true more than 200 years later. The men behind the American Revolution knew they were entering unknown territory when they declared freedom from Great Britain. But their values are still cherished today, values considered traditionally “American” – greater opportunity, freedom from monarchy, and success based upon merit, not social class.

Democracy is a term familiar to most, but it is a concept still evolving in America and around the world. This free lecture series will examine the idea of democracy and how it has changed within our government and our society.

Three distinguished UNH faculty will be taking part in the lectures. Eliga Gould, associate professor of history, will open the three-week series on March 12 with a presentation on the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Taking place in Philadelphia, the convention was designed to address problems in the United States of America following independence from Great Britain.

Gould has written several award winning books and articles covering the history of revolutionary America, British Atlantic and imperial history, and Early American History to 1877. He is currently finishing a book on the American Revolution and the legal geography of the Atlantic world (under contract with Harvard University Press).

On March 19, assistant professor of classics R. Scott Smith will present “What is Democracy and is it ‘The One’?” This presentation is based on a white paper originally written by Smith for the Discovery Dialogs Program at UNH. In it, Smith asks “Why do we naturally assume that democracy is the best form of government for everyone (including ourselves), and what exactly do we mean by “democracy” anyway?”

Using comparisons of ancient Greece and modern Iraq, Smith discusses how democracy is not the only ingredient for prosperity, nor is it the only form of government that can lead to equality and freedom—those values we treasure so much in our own country.

Smith is a 2005 recipient of the UNH Faculty Excellence Award.

Concluding the series, assistant professor of communications Jennifer Borda will present “The Rhetorical Presidency” on March 26. The term ‘rhetorical presidency’ is borrowed from Jeffrey Tulis’s book of the same name, in which he argues that the role of the presidency has changed dramatically in the last 100 years with the president’s role now very rhetorical and closely connected to the people.

Appropriate in this year of presidential elections, Borda will discuss how presidents’ words and ideas have the ability to motivate people to action; to provide a rationale and justification for political decisions; to foster communities within the U.S. and the world; and to ethically set a moral tone for who we are as a nation.

Each of these events will take place in the Folsom Tavern assembly room at the American Independence Museum, One Governor’s Lane, in Exeter. The museum features stories of the brave men and women who overcame their uncertainties about freedom from Great Britain and established our country. The Folsom Tavern, built c. 1775 by local entrepreneur Colonel Samuel Folsom, was the center of Exeter’s political scene during the Revolution.

All events in this series are free and open to the public. For more information, contact museum program coordinator Elizabeth Pappas at (603) 772-2622, or visit the museum website.

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