Spring 2013 Athenæum Series : Wrestling with Washington: Historical Memory and the Fourth of July in the Midwest Antebellum

12 Noon at Kent Library’s Sadie’s Place

Americans coming of age in the early nineteenth century wrestled with their role in the development of the fledgling United States. On one hand, they revered George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and the other founding fathers and sought to emulate their patriotism. On the other hand, this so-called first generation of Americans recognized their unique opportunity to shape conceptions of patriotic loyalty and American nationalism. On Independence Day in the urban Midwest, these two concerns often came into conflict as mid-westerners used the holiday to both reflect on the past and forge ahead in constructing a unique national identity based on contemporary, rather than historical, concerns. This on-going tension between past and present – wrestling with the memories of Washington and the founders – often emerged on the Fourth of July and provides an important window into the construction of American national identity in this formative period of United States history.

The event is open to all and refreshments will be served.

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