The Speakers

Short biographies, in alphabetical order, of all speakers and commentators will be posted as they are received.



Baron, Robert C. (commentator)

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Robert C. Baron is the former Chairman of the American Antiquarian Society and Director of several library and environmental organizations. He is the author of Pioneers and Plodders:The American Entrepreneurial Spirit, Hudson: The Story of a River, Twentieth Century America, and What Was It Like Orville: The Early Space Program. He also edited The Garden and Farm Books of Thomas Jefferson, Soul of America, Thomas Jefferson: In His Own Words and John Adams: In His Own Words. He was program manager for the Mariner II (Venus) and the Mariner IV (Mars) on-board space computers, the founder of Prime Computer and founder of Fulcrum Publishing.

Bernstein, R. B. Let us dare to read, think, speak and write: John Adams’s Uses of Reading as Political and Constitutional Armory

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R.B. Bernstein is a Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Law at New York Law School. He is the author of Thomas Jefferson (Oxford University Press, 2003), editor of the newsletter for the American Society for Legal History, and the Director of Online Operations for Heights Books, Inc.

Bilder, Mary Sarah (commentator)

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Professor Mary Sarah Bilder teaches in the areas of property and American legal and constitutional history at Boston College Law School. She received her B.A. and the Dean’s Prize from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, her J.D. (magna cum laude) from Harvard Law School, and her A.M. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in the History of American Civilization. She is the author of The Transatlantic Constitution: Colonial Legal Culture and the Empire, awarded the Littleton-Griswold Award from the American Historical Association. She has received the Boston College Annual Prize for Scholarship, a Boston College Distinguished Research Award, a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, and is a Boston College Law School Fund Scholar. She currently serves on the Editorial Board of Law and History Review, the Council of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, the Board of Overseers of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Historical Society, and is a member of the American Law Institute.

Cogliano, Frank "Thomas Jefferson is looking down on you, and he’s dissatisfied!" The Thomas Jefferson Paradox

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Frank Cogliano is Professor of American at the University of Edinburgh where he is Director of the Graduate School in History, Classics and Archaeology. He is the author of several books on the revolutionary and early national period including, Thomas Jefferson: Reputation and Legacy. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of the Early Republic.

Dierksheide, Christa (commentator)

Christa Dierksheide specializes in the history of slavery in the Anglophone Atlantic world. She recently completed her dissertation, "The Amelioration of Slavery in the Anglo-American Imagination, 1770-1840" at the University of Virginia. She served as a consultant and writer for many of the exhibitions and the introductory film at Monticello’s new Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center and is the author of "'The great improvement and civilization of that race': Jefferson, Slavery, and the Amelioration of Virginia (Journal of Early American Studies, Spring 2008).

Dimunation, Mark "The Whole of Recorded Knowledge": Jefferson as Collector and Reader

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Mark Dimunation was appointed Chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress in 1998. He came to the Library of Congress from Cornell University, where he had served since 1991 as Curator of Rare Books and Associate Director for Collections in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, and taught in the English Department. He specializes in 18th and 19th century English and American printing and has considerable experience working with antiquarian materials as well as fine press and contemporary artist’s books. He is currently completing an extensive project to reconstruct Thomas Jefferson’s Library at the Library of Congress. He has lectured extensively about book collections and has authored a number of articles and exhibition catalogs, including a recent study of Andrew Dickson White as a nineteenth-century book collector.


Emblidge, David "Bibliomany Has Possessed Me": Thomas Jefferson, The Booksellers’ Customer Extraordinaire

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David Emblidge edited Beneath the Metropolis: Secret Lives of Cities, "My Day" Eleanor Roosevelt’s Acclaimed Columns, and The Appalachian Trail Reader. Emblidge's essays and reviews have appeared in The New Republic, Saturday Review, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, and numerous scholarly journals. His essay "The Palmer Method: Penmanship and the Tenor of Our Time" won the McGinnis Prize for best nonfiction, 2007, in Southwest Review. Formerly Editor-in-Chief at The Mountaineers Books, Dr. Emblidge (Ph.D., American Studies, Univ. of Minnesota) is now Associate Professor, Emerson College (Writing, Literature and Publishing Dept.) and writing a narrative history of American bookstores.


Freeman, Joanne (commentator)

Joanne Freeman is Professor of History at Yale University, specializing in revolutionary and early national American history. She is the author of numerous articles on early national political culture, as well as two books: Alexander Hamilton: Writings, and Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic. Her next project--'The Field of Blood': The Culture of Congress in Antebellum America--explores violence, conflict, and the workings of democracy on the floor of the United States House and Senate.

Goff, Philip Balancing Mobs and Aristocrats: Religion, Politics, and Society in the Career of John Adams

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Philip Goff is director of the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture and professor of Religious Studies and American Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. The senior co-editor of Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation, Goff is completing an intellectual biography of John Adams that takes particular note of his religious ideas and how they shaped his thinking and behavior.

Hart, Gary (keynote speaker)

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Gary Hart represented the state of Colorado in the U.S. Senate from 1975 until 1987. He is currently Wirth Chair Professor at the University of Colorado, distinguished fellow at the New America Foundation, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was co-chair of the U.S. Commission on National Security for the 21st century. Senator Hart is the author of 17 books, including Under the Eagle’s Wing: A National Security Strategy of the United States for 2009, God and Caesar in America, and The Presidency of James Monroe.

Hayes, Kevin J. Jefferson’s Vacation Library

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Kevin J. Hayes, Professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma, is the author of several books including The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson, The Mind of a Patriot: Patrick Henry and the World of Ideas, An American Cycling Odyssey, 1887, and The Library of William Byrd of Westover, for which he won the Virginia Library History Award.

Jackson, Heather John Adams’ Marginalia Then and Now

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H. J. Jackson teaches English and Book History at the University of Toronto. Besides regularly publishing articles and reviews on various aspects of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature and biography, she has been the editor or co-editor of six volumes in the standard Bollingen edition of the collected works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, including four volumes of his marginalia; editor of several trade editions of Coleridge for Oxford University Press; and author of two books on readers’ notes published by Yale, Marginalia (2001--a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism) and Romantic Readers.

Kaminski, John They "thought for all of us": The Contradictory Intersections of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

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John Kaminski received his PhD from the UW-Madison in 1972 and, for the last 27 years, has edited The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. In 1981 he founded and continues to direct The Center for the Study of the American Constitution in the UW-Madison’s Department of History. Dr. Kaminski has edited, co-edited, or written twenty-three books as well as many articles on the Revolutionary era with special emphasis on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, slavery, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine. He has spoken on these subjects throughout the country and abroad.


Kelley, Mary (commentator)

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Mary Kelley is the Ruth Bordin Collegiate Professor of History, American Culture, and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan. The author, co-author, or editor of six books (including Private Women, Public Stage: Literary Domesticity in Nineteenth-Century America, The Limits of Sisterhood: The Beecher Sisters on Women’s Rights and Woman’s Sphere, and The Portable Margaret Fuller), she published most recently Learning to Stand and Speak: Women, Education, and Public Life in America’s Republic. She is co-editor of An Extensive Republic: Print, Culture, and Society in the New Nation, the second volume of A History of the Book in America, currently in press. She is also co-editor of the Gender and American Culture Series at the University of North Carolina Press. Kelley has served as President of the American Studies Association and the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic and as Co-Chair of the Council of the Omohundro Institute of American History and Culture. She has chaired the Departments of History at Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan.


King, Martha "History is not the province of the ladies": Adams, Jefferson, and Histories of Revolution

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Martha J. King received her doctorate in history in 1992 from the College of William and Mary, where she wrote a dissertation titled, "Making an Impression: Women Printers in the Southern Colonies in the Revolutionary Era." Dr. King has a long-standing interest in print culture and women’s history and is currently writing a book manuscript on women printers. She has written several articles, book reviews, and encyclopedia entries, and has given numerous professional papers. She has taught at the University of Rhode Island and the College of William and Mary and has worked as an historical documentary editor on five projects including the Papers of James Madison at the University of Virginia. Since 2002 she has been associate editor at the Papers of Thomas Jefferson at Princeton University.

Konig, David Whig Lawyering in the Legal Education of Thomas Jefferson

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David Thomas Konig (Ph.D., Harvard University) holds appointments as Professor of History and Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis. His research examines legal development in colonial and Revolutionary America, with special attention to questions of property law, commercial law, the Bill of Rights, legal procedure, and the law of slavery and freedom. His current projects include an edition of Thomas Jefferson’s Legal Commonplace Book for The Papers of Thomas Jefferson and an examination of Jefferson’s legal thought and practice, Nature’s Advocate: Thomas Jefferson and the Discovery of American Law.

Lambert, Franklin T. A FREE INQUIRY under the authority of the People: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson on Religion

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Franklin Lambert (Ph.D., Northwestern University) is a Professor of History at Purdue University. He has written numerous articles on the history of politics and religion, as well as authored six books: The Barbary Wars: American Independence in the Atlantic World, James Habersham: Loyalty, Politics, and Commerce in Colonial Georgia, The Founding Fathers and The Place of Religion in America, Inventing the "Great Awakening," Pedlar in Divinity: George Whitefield and the Transatlantic Revivals, 1737-1770 and most recently Religion in American Politics: A Short History.

Lint, Gregg John Adams, Thomas Pownall and Peace in 1780

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Gregg Lint received a Ph.D. in History from Michigan State University. He has worked for the Massachusetts Historical Society since 1975, and currently serves as series editor for the Papers of John Adams. He has written numerous articles and reviews for historical journals, and has spoken on the life of John Adams at multiple conferences.

Looney, Jeff "I shall not retain a single one": The Limits of Thomas Jefferson’s Library Catalogues

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J. Jefferson Looney is editor of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, sponsored by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., Charlottesville, Virginia. He was formerly editor and project director of the Dictionary of Virginia Biography, and author or editor of several works on the history of Princeton University.

McCorison, Marcus (commentator)

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Marcus McCorison is the former Librarian and President emeritus of the American Antiquarian Society from which he retired in 1992. He has maintained a career-long devotion to the history of American printing and books. That interest came to fruition in 1985 when the Society’s Program in the History of the Book in American Culture was established at a conference on the new field in November of that year.

Prindle, Beth Thought, Care, and Money: John Adams Assembles His Library

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Beth Prindle is manager of the John Adams Library Project at the Boston Public Library (Rare Books & Manuscripts Department). She served as curator of the award-winning 2006-2007 gallery exhibition John Adams Unbound at the BPL and oversaw creation and development of the Adams Library companion website.

Ragosta, John Jefferson’s Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom: How We Got It, What We Did with It

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John Ragosta is a historian and lawyer who received both his PhD and JD from the University of Virginia. The author of the forthcoming Wellspring of Liberty: How Virginia’s Religious Dissenters Helped Win the American Revolution and Religious Liberty, he has published extensively in both legal and historical journals in the areas of early American history, constitutional law and international relations. He practiced international trade law for 20 years in Washington DC before returning to school and has taught at the George Washington University School of Law and the University of Virginia history department and law school. In addition, he has a degree in physics-chemistry and is a beekeeper.

Ryerson, Richard A John Adams Paradox: Provincial Lawyer, Cosmopolitan Reader, Ardent Nationalist

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Richard Alan Ryerson earned his AB from Harvard College in 1964, and his Ph.D. in early American history from Johns Hopkins in 1972. He held post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania, 1975-76, and at Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center, 1978-79. Ryerson taught at the University of Texas, 1971-1978, and was an associate editor at The William Penn Papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania from 1979 to 1983, before becoming Editor in Chief of The Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society, from 1983 to 2001. He served as Academic Director and Senior Historian at The David Library of the American Revolution in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, from 2002 to 2008. He is now an independent scholar, working on a book on the political thought of John Adams, to be entitled John Adams’ Republican Monarchy, for which he received an NEH fellowship. He is the author of The Revolution Is Now Begun: The Radical Committees of Philadelphia, 1765-1776, and editor or associate editor of a dozen volumes of the papers of William Penn and of members of the Adams family. He also edited a volume of conference papers entitled John Adams and the Founding of the Republic.

Schulz, Constance "Train up a Child in the Way He Should Go": Books and the Earliest Religious Training of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

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Dr. Constance B. Schulz, now a distinguished professor emeritus at the University of South Carolina, was from 1985-2008 Director of the Public History Program, where she taught archives administration. She served from 2002-2006 as the managing editor of the "Papers of Henry Laurens." Her University of Cincinnati Ph.D. dissertation on the radical religious ideas of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams became the basis for "John Adams on The Best of All Possible Worlds", in Frank Shuffleton, ed., The American Enlightenment, Vol. XI, Library of the History of Ideas, and "Of Bigotry in Politics and Religion: Jefferson’s Religion, the Federalist Press and the Syllabus," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, in 1983. An NHPRC Fellow in documentary editing at the First Federal Congress papers, she has regularly reviewed volumes of the modern editions of the papers of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, and is the author of a review essay, "Saint Thomas of Monticello," in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin: Religion & Values in Public Life. She has presented papers on Adams and Jefferson’s childhood religious training at the Tenth International Society on the Enlightenment in Dublin, Ireland, in 1999 and at the Society for Historians of the Early Republic in July 1995. She is currently the recipient of an NEH Grant and project director to create a digital documentary edition of the writings of Eliza Lucas Pinckney and her daughter Harriot Pinckney Horry, 1740-1838.

Shields, David S. Green Ink: Jefferson & the Print World of Transatlantic Agriculture

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David S. Shields is McClintock Professor of Southern Letters in the Department of English at the University of South Carolina and Director of the Southern Texts Society. His most recent book, Pioneering American Wine: Writings of Nicholas Herbemont, master viticulturist, examines the works and deeds of America’s first great wine maker. An historian of literature and culture, Shields has a particular interest in traditional foodways and heritage agriculture. He is Chairman of the Board of the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation, the group that reintroduced the famous staple rice of early Carolina into cultivation.

Shuffelton, Frank Taking the Enlightenment Abroad: Thomas Jefferson in France

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Frank Shuffelton earned a B.A. from Harvard University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in American literature from Stanford University. He has been a Professor of English at the University of Rochester since 1988 and Chair of the Department of English since 2003. He is the author or editor of numerous books and articles on early American history, including Thomas Hooker, 1586-1647; Thomas Jefferson, 1981-1990: A Comprehensive Critical Bibliography; A Mixed Race: Ethnicity in Early America; The American Enlightenment; Notes on the State of Virginia; and The Letters of John and Abigail Adams.

Steele, Brian The Yeomanry of the United States are not the Canaille of Paris: Thomas Jefferson, American Exceptionalism, and the Spirit of Democracy

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Brian Steele earned the Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2003, was Visiting Assistant Professor of American History at Tulane University from 2003-2005, and is currently Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is completing a manuscript titled, Love and War: Thomas Jefferson and the Making of an American Nationalism. His essay, "Thomas Jefferson’s Gender Frontier," appeared in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of American History, and his essay, "Thomas Jefferson, Coercion, and the Limits of Harmonious Union," is scheduled for publication in the November 2008 issue of the Journal of Southern History.

Stockdale, Eric John Stockdale: London Bookseller and Publisher of Adams and Jefferson

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Eric Stockdale practiced at the English Bar from the Temple in London and then served as a Circuit judge for twenty-two years. For many years he has studied the Americans in London before, during and after the Revolution, concentrating on the law students who crossed the Atlantic to attend his own Inn of Court and on the bookshops that specialized in trans-Atlantic topics, notably those of John Almon and John Stockdale. His book, 'Tis Treason, My Good Man! Four Revolutionary Presidents and a Piccadilly Bookshop, was published in 2005 by Oak Knoll Press and the British Library. Middle Temple Lawyers and the American Revolution (co-authored with Justice Randy J. Holland) was published in 2007.

Taylor, C. James (commentator)

Jim Taylor earned a doctorate in early American history from the University of Tennessee in 1981. He taught American history at the University of South Carolina for more than twenty years where he also served as project director of the Papers of Henry Laurens. Upon the completion of the sixteenth and final volume of that project in 2002, he accepted the position of Editor in Chief of the Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston. The Adams Papers project, with a full-time staff of six documentary editors, now produces a volume a year and has published forty-two volumes to date. During the past three years he has also overseen a project funded by the MHS, Harvard University Press, and the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize the modern edition of Adams Papers. In July 2008 all of the Adams documents published in the modern edition will be available online at the MHS website. In 2007 he co-edited My Dearest Friend, a new selection of Abigail and John Adams’ letters. Also in 2008, he launched a special three-year project to publish the diary and autobiographical writings of Louisa Catherine Adams. In 2006 he assumed the additional responsibility of Director of Publications at the Society. He is also currently chair of the Founding Fathers Papers editors, a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and a member of the Massachusetts Colonial Society.

Thomson, Keith Jefferson, Buffon, and the European View of America

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Keith Thomson is professor emeritus, University of Oxford and senior research fellow, American Philosophical Society. Previously he has been a visiting fellow of the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, professor and director of the Oxford University Museum, University Distinguished Scientist-in-Residence at the New School for Social Research, president of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and professor and dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Yale University. He is the author of fifteen books and edited volumes in biology and the history of science including Before Darwin, The Legacy of the Mastodon, A Passion for Nature: Thomas Jefferson and Natural History, and The Young Charles Darwin.

Wayson, Billy "Considerably different...for her sex...": Fashioning Martha Jefferson as Republican Daughter and Plantation Mistress

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Billy Wayson received a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, studied Economics at George Washington University, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and election to Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Iowa. Dr. Wayson was founder and president of a non-profit research institute, where he oversaw the writing and publication of over two-dozen research monographs and co-authored two books on public policy and criminal justice. Currently, he is beginning a research project on Thomas Jefferson’s business and financial affairs, as well as completing a book manuscript on Martha Jefferson Randolph, and serves as a guest lecturer on historical topics for leadership development programs and adult education symposia. He has recently been the recipient of two fellowships at the International Center for Jefferson Studies.

Widmer, Edward L. (Ted) (keynote speaker)

Since 2001 Dr. Widmer has served as the inaugural director of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and Associate Professor of History at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. In that capacity, he helped to create visiting fellowships, international exchanges, conferences, lectures, and other activities that made the Starr Center an important focus for the study of American history and the dissemination of research and scholarship. Dr. Widmer served in the Clinton White House as Senior Advisor to the President for Special Projects, as Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and as Director for Speechwriting at the National Security Council. From 1993 to 1997 Dr. Widmer held an appointment as Lecturer on History and Literature at Harvard University. He holds an A.B. in the History and Literature of France and America, an A.M. in History, and a Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from Harvard. Publications include: Young America: The Flowering of Democracy in New York City (2001 Washington Irving Literary Medal), co-authord with Alan Brinkley Campaigns: A Century of Presidential Races, and author of Martin Van Buren. Dr. Widmer is is a contributing editor to The American Scholar, The New York Times, and others. Dr. Widmer is the director of the John Carter Brown Library.

Wright, Conrad Edick (commentator)

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Conrad Edick Wright is the Ford Editor of Publications and Director of Research at the Massachusetts Historical Society, where he has been on the staff since 1985. Previously, he held appointments at the Institute of Early American History and Culture and the New York Historical Society. He is the author of two books and co-author of a third, the editor or co-editor of eight volumes, the project director of the Colonial Collegians CD-ROM, the editor of the Massachusetts Historical Review, and the lead scholar of Sibley’s Harvard Graduates. He is a graduate of Harvard College (A.B. 1972) and Brown University (A.M. 1975, Ph.D. 1980).