J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Breen on the President and the Governor, 21 Jan.

On Wednesday, 21 January, Prof. T. H. Breen will speak at Cambridge Forum on “Duel Over Dinner: President Washington’s Clash with Governor Hancock Over State Sovereignty.”

In 1789 George Washington returned to Massachusetts for the first time since 1776, as part of his tour of all the states that had adopted the Constitution and elected him President of the United States. Most places welcomed Washington with pomp and ceremony. Boston organized a grand parade. Yet Washington found himself at odds with his old colleague John Hancock, oft-elected governor of Massachusetts.

Who was the higher authority, the governor of a state or the chief executive of this new federal union? Was the Presidency the highest office in the land or more like being Secretary-General of the United Nations, beholding to the body’s constituent states? What did the arrangement that Washington and Hancock worked out mean for the conflicts over states’ rights that persist till today?

This talk is based on research for Breen’s upcoming book George Washington’s Journey: The President Forges a New Nation, to be published by Simon & Schuster later this year.

T. H. Breen is the William Smith Mason Professor of American History Emeritus at Northwestern University and a James Marsh Professor at Large at the University of Vermont. He has written for the New York Times Magazine, the London Review of Books, and other publications.

Among Breen’s books, the latest are The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence and American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People, about the uprising in New England in 1774. Copies of both titles will be available at the event for purchase and signing, courtesy of Harvard Book Store.

This talk will take place at First Parish Church, located at 3 Church Street in Harvard Square, Cambridge. It will start at 7:00 P.M., and is free to all. The talk and question-and-answer session afterward will be recorded for the radio and the web, and as moderator I’ll have the job of making sure we all follow the right protocols for recording.

Breen’s talk is co-sponsored by the Cambridge Forum, Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the Friends of Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters, with support from the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati.

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