Benjamin Franklin Distinguished Lectures

The Benjamin Franklin Distinguished Lectures are the first endowed lecture series in the field of early American studies. Established thanks to the generosity of the Estate of Margy Ellin Meyerson, the lectures will be delivered annually by an eminent scholar of early American studies and draw inspiration from the life and achievements of Benjamin Franklin. An archetypal polymath, and founding father of the University of Pennsylvania, Franklin is one of the best-known early Americans and an important figure in the research of many scholars. Lecturers will use Franklin as a springboard for addressing topics of concern to scholars and the broader public alike. Each set of lectures will be subsequently published in an edition by Penn Press.

David Waldstreicher, Distinguished Professor of History at the CUNY Graduate Center, will inaugurate this series in November 2024. A prolific scholar of the American revolution, David has edited six volumes and authored four monographs, including Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery, and the American Revolution (2004) and, most recently, The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley: A Poet's Journeys Through American Slavery and Independence (2023).

The lectures will be free and open to all. The Center intends to draw a wide audience from the community of early Americanists in the mid-Atlantic region as well as members of the public interested in America's founding.

Schedule of Events for Three Ages of Slavery and the Future of U.S. History”:

Monday, November 4, 5:15pm
Looking Back at 2019/1619: The Problems of Slavery in an Age of History Wars

Wednesday, November 6, 5:15pm
Tryon's Travels and Franklin's Fish: From War Slavery to Antiwar Antislavery

Thursday, November 7, 5:15pm
Franklin's Fantasy, Jefferson's Gestures, Wheatley's Wonder: Slavery, Antislavery, and the First American Civil War

All lectures will be held at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and will be followed by a reception. Registration will open in May 2024.