Rutman Distinguished Lecture on the American Presidency: Annette Gordon-Reed

Thursday, April 7, 2022
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Memorial Union Building Granite State Room
Event Type

Thomas Jefferson: Revolutionary, President and Visionary. 

Professor Annette Gordon-Reed of Harvard University will deliver the 2021-22 Rutman Distinguished Lecture on the American Presidency on Thursday, April 7, 2022, at 7 p.m. in the Granite State Room of the Memorial Union Building on the Durham Campus. In her talk, she will discuss how Jefferson’s views about the Enlightenment shaped his attitude about being a revolutionary, his presidency and his post-presidency activities, as he contemplated the future of the country he helped to found.

Free and open to the public but registration is required:


Annette Gordon-Reed is a professor of history on the faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard Law School and the award-winning author of six books. Her latest book, "On Juneteenth," sets out to capture the integral importance of the holiday to American history. It quickly became a New York Times bestseller, was featured on the magazine’s 100 Notable Books list, and chosen as one of its the top five non-fiction books of the year. When President Joe Biden finally signed into law a bill that established Juneteenth as a federal holiday — the culmination of a decades-long effort — Gordon-Reed was among those invited to witness the historic moment. “I think it will be good for the country to have a day to reflect on slavery and the end of slavery,” Gordon-Reed said.

Gordon-Reed is also the author of "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family," which won the Pulitzer Prize in history and the National Book Award for nonfiction — along with fourteen other awards. It explores the inconsistencies of Jefferson’s stance on slavery and his relationship with enslaved woman Sally Hemings, and has been called “the best study of a slave family ever written” by noted Jefferson scholar Joseph Ellis. Her other books include "Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy" — a rich examination of scholarly writing on the relationships between Jefferson and Hemings, which exposes the possibility that scholars were misguided by their own biases and may even have contorted evidence to preserve their preexisting opinions of Jefferson. Her other book, "'Most Blessed of the Patriarchs': Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination," presents a provocative character study of Jefferson that challenges much of the scholarly status quo on his portrayal throughout history. Gordon-Reed’s upcoming title, "A Jefferson Reader on Race," is set to be published in 2022.

Her honors include the National Humanities Medal (awarded by President Barack Obama), a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship. Gordon-Reed was also elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a member of the Academy’s Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences. In 2019, she was elected a Member of the American Philosophical Society.

The Rutman Distinguished Lecture Series on the American Presidency is generously supported by J. Morgan Rutman ’84 and Tara Rutman. The lecture series focuses on American political history with an emphasis on the modern and historical context of the American Presidency.

As of 3/4/22, per University COVID policy, masks are NOT required to be worn in indoor spaces. If the policy changes, we will note it here.

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