The National History Center of the American Historical Association provides a venue in the nation's capital for all who care about the human past to make history an essential part of public conversations about current events and the shared futures of the United States and the wider world.

2/27: Timothy Breen on An Appeal to Heaven: The American Revolution

T.H. Breen will present a paper entitled “Enforcing the Revolution,” which explores topics to be incorporated into his forthcoming book An Appeal to Heaven: The American Revolution.  In this talk Breen investigates how supporters of the Revolution, many of them living in small communities not directly affected by military campaigns, managed so successfully to sustain political and military resistance to Great Britain over eight years of war and more narrowly, how they created powerful structures of ideological control that effectively curtailed the possibility of a meaningful counter-revolution.

T.H. Breen is the William Smith Mason Professor of American History Emeritus at Northwestern University and the James Marsh Professor at-large at the University of Vermont.  His recent writings have focused on the history of the American Revolution.  He has authored The Marketplace of Revolution, American Insurgents: American Patriots, and George Washington’s Journey: The President Forges a New Nation, which was awarded the Society of Cincinnati Book award for 2016.  Breen has recently held the Rockefeller Fellowship at Colonial Williamsburg, a Humboldt Foundation Award at the Munich Center for Advanced Studies, and is currently the John Kluge Professor of American Law and Governance at the Library of Congress.

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.

2/13: Edward Balleisen on Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff

Economic duplicity has bedeviled American markets from the founding of the Republic. Historian Edward Balleisen explores the enduring connections between capitalist innovation and fraud, as well as the vexed efforts to curb the worst business deceptions by private organizations and state agencies. Placing recent fraud scandals in long-term context, he shows that we rely solely on a policy of caveat emptor at our peril; and that a mixture of public education, sensible disclosure rules, and targeted enforcement campaigns can contain the problem of business fraud.

Edward J. Balleisen is Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies and Associate Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University.  His most recent book is: Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff (2017).  Other volumes include Navigating Failure: Bankruptcy and Commercial Society in Antebellum America (2001); Government and Markets: Toward a New Theory of Regulation (2009, co-edited with David Moss); and a three volume research collection, Business Regulation (2015).  He has won three teaching prizes at Duke, and is a leader in the national conversation on reconfiguring doctoral education in the humanities.

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.

2/6: Marc Levinson on “An Extraordinary Time: The End of the Postwar Boom and the Return of the Ordinary Economy”

An Extraordinary Time: The End of the Postwar Boom and the Return of the Ordinary Economy is a new history of the 1970s and 1980s. It shows how the sharp slowdown in economic growth around the world after 1973 destroyed the consensus in favor of the welfare state, opening the door to market-based economic policies and the conservative politicians who promoted them. Levinson asserts that the postwar boom was an anomaly and that the disappointing growth rate since 1973 is not a policy failure but rather a reversion to the norm.

Marc Levinson is an independent historian and economist living in Washington, DC. He was formerly finance and economics editor of The Economist and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Levinson’s previous books include The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, one of the best-known business books of recent years, and The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America. He received a doctorate in history from the City University of New York.

Monday, February 6, 2017
4:00pm – 5:30pm
Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Boardroom

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.