Sunday on Book Breaks: Bancroft Prize-winner John Wood Sweet discusses “The Sewing Girl’s Tale: A Story of Crime and Consequences in Revolutionary America”


Join The Hilder Lehrman Institute in conversation with 2023 Bancroft Prize-winner John Wood Sweet on his book The Sewing Girl's Tale: A Story of Crime and Consequences in Revolutionary America.

One night in the summer of 1793, a crime was committed in the back room of a New York brothel—the kind of crime that even victims usually kept secret. Instead, seventeen-year-old seamstress Lanah Sawyer did what virtually no one in US history had done before: she charged a gentleman with rape. The ensuing dramatic trial exposed a predatory sexual underworld, sparked riots in the streets, and ignited a vigorous debate about class privilege and double standards. The ongoing conflict attracted the nation’s top lawyers, including Alexander Hamilton, and shaped the development of American law.

Inside the Vault: The Treaty of Paris


240 years ago, the United States became independent from England when the Treaty of Paris officially ended the Revolutionary War. Join us for Inside the Vault on September 7, at 7 pm ET, when our curators discuss and examine key parts of the treaty with Dr. Eliga Gould of the University of New Hampshire.

Maurizio Valsania discusses “First Among Men: George Washington and the Myth of American Masculinity”


George Washington has often been depicted as America at its unflinching best: tall, shrewd, determined, resilient, stalwart, and tremendously effective in action. But this aggressive and muscular version of Washington is largely a nineteenth-century creation. Without diminishing Washington’s extraordinary legacy, Valsania catalogs how later generations projected their own understandings of what made a “great man” onto Washington’s facade and tests these depictions against the material and documentary evidence Washington left behind. The result is the George Washington Prize–winning book for 2023.