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”

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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

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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”

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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.