Book Launch: ‘Washington at the Plow’ by Bruce A. Ragsdale

Tuesday 23 November, 1pm ET/6pm GMT. Register here to attend virtually or here to attend in person. 

Bruce A. Ragsdale will discuss his book, Washington at the Plow: The Founding Farmer and the Question of Slavery which depicts the “first farmer of America” as a leading practitioner of the New Husbandry, a transatlantic movement that spearheaded advancements in crop rotation.

A tireless experimentalist, Washington pulled up his tobacco and switched to wheat production, leading the way for the rest of the country. He filled his library with the latest agricultural treatises and pioneered land-management techniques that he hoped would guide small farmers, strengthen agrarian society, and ensure the prosperity of the nation.

Slavery was a key part of Washington’s pursuits. He saw enslaved field workers and artisans as means of agricultural development and tried repeatedly to adapt slave labour to new kinds of farming. To this end, he devised an original and exacting system of slave supervision. But Washington eventually found that forced labor could not achieve the productivity he desired. His inability to reconcile ideals of scientific farming and rural order with race-based slavery led him to reconsider the traditional foundations of the Virginia plantation. As Bruce Ragsdale shows, it was the inefficacy of chattel slavery, as much as moral revulsion at the practice, that informed Washington’s famous decision to free his slaves after his death.

Bruce A. Ragsdale served for twenty years as director of the Federal Judicial History Office at the Federal Judicial Center. The author of A Planters’ Republic: The Search for Economic Independence in Revolutionary Virginia, he has been a fellow at the Washington Library at Mount Vernon and the International Center for Jefferson Studies.

You can order a hardcopy or e-book here (UK) or here (US).

Join us even if you don’t have a chance to read the book by the event date! 

This event is free of charge but please consider making an online donation here to support the work of Benjamin Franklin House. 

Franklin’s Young Inventors Science Club: Electricity and Magnetism

Saturday 2o November 10am-11:30am. Register here to attend in-person.

Join our science club at Benjamin Franklin House, the London home of the famous Founding Father of the United States who was also a scientist and inventor. You will learn about the experiments carried out by Benjamin Franklin and his British friends as well as trying your hand at practical investigations. This week we will be exploring the core physics topic of electricity and magnetism.

Most suitable for Years 7-9 (ages 11-14) but all ages welcome!  Franklin’s Young Inventors is free to attend but booking is essential.

Parents are welcome to join, however, if you would prefer to drop off and pick up your child(ren) we will ask you to sign a permission form when you arrive.

COVID-19 Safety Precautions:

– We are limiting bookings to 15 people so please book a ticket for each adult and child attending

– Activities will take place in a well-ventilated historic space with hand sanitiser and sanitising wipes available

– All staff and adult visitors are encouraged to wear a face covering

Virtual Alternative

If you would prefer to learn with Benjamin Franklin House remotely, you can sign up here for a 30-minute science class via Zoom at 4.30pm GMT/11.30am EST on Tuesday 16 November. If you would like to recreate the magnetic materials experiment, you will need a magnet and a selection of objects.

Please note that the session will be recorded. A parent, carer or teacher should register on behalf of participants. By registering, participants agree to follow our Online Safety Agreement. For more information, contact our Education Manager.

Funding for Franklin’s Young Inventors has generously been provided by the United States Government and the DAR Walter Hines Page Chapter.

Ben’s Book Club: ‘Running from Bondage’ by Karen Cook-Bell

Wednesday 15 December, 12pm ET/5pm GMT. Register here

Join us for the December instalment of Ben’s Book Club, a monthly virtual gathering looking at themes relating to Benjamin Franklin, the 18th century, and American history.

Karen Cook-Bell, Associate Professor of History at Bowie State University, will discuss her book, Running from Bondage, recounting the important stories of enslaved women, who comprised one-third of all runaways, and the ways in which they fled, or attempted to flee, bondage during and after the Revolutionary War.   

Karen Cook Bell’s enlightening and original contribution to the study of slave resistance in eighteenth-century America explores the individual and collective lives of these women and girls of diverse circumstances, while also providing details about what led them to escape. She demonstrates that there were in fact two wars being waged during the Revolutionary Era: a political revolution for independence from Great Britain and a social revolution for emancipation and equality in which Black women played an active role. Running from Bondage broadens and complicates how we study and teach this momentous event, one that emphasizes the chances taken by these ‘Black founding mothers’ and the important contributions they made to the cause of liberty.

Karen Cook Bell is Associate Professor of History and Chair of the History and Government Department at Bowie State University. Her areas of specialization include slavery and the slave trade, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and women’s history. Her scholarship has appeared in the Journal of African American HistoryGeorgia Historical QuarterlyPassport; Black Perspectives; U.S. West-Africa: Interaction and Relations (2008); Before Obama: A Reappraisal of Black Reconstruction Era (2012); Converging Identities: Blackness in the Contemporary Diaspora (2013); and Slavery and Freedom in Savannah (2014).  Her writings have also appeared in The Washington Post, History News Network, and Ms. Magazine. She is the author of Claiming Freedom: Race, Kinship,  and Land in Nineteenth Century Georgia (University of South Carolina Press, 2018), which won the Georgia Board of Regents Excellence in Research Award; and Running from Bondage: Enslaved Women and Their Remarkable Fight for Freedom in Revolutionary America (Cambridge University Press, 2021).  She is a former AAUW Dissertation Fellow.

You can 0rder a hardcopy or e-book here (UK) or here (US).

Join us even if you don’t have a chance to read the book by the event date! 

This event is free of charge but please consider making an online donation here to support the work of Benjamin Franklin House. 

 

 

Ben’s Book Club: ‘Incomparable World’ by S I Martin

Tuesday 26 October 2021, 5pm UK/12pm ET. Register to watch the livestream here

Limited tickets will be available to attend in person at Benjamin Franklin House. Book tickets to attend here. Drink Included! 

Join us for the October instalment of Ben’s Digital Book Club, a monthly virtual gathering looking at themes relating to Benjamin Franklin, the 18th century, and American history.

This month S I Martin will do a reading and discuss his book Incomparable World which reimagines 1780s London, showcasing the untold stories of African-American soldiers grappling with their post-war freedom. Bursting with energy and vivid detail, Incomparable World boldly uncovers a long-buried narrative of black Britain.

S. I. Martin is a museums consultant and author, specialising in Black British history and literature. He is the author of several books of historical fiction and non-fiction for teenage and adult readers, including Britain’s Slave Trade (written for Channel 4 to tie in with its documentary of the same name), Jupiter Amidshops, Jupiter Williams and Incomparable World.

You can order a copy or e-book here (UK) or here (US).   

Join us even if you don’t have a chance to read the book by the event date! 

Robert H Smith Lecture in American Democracy: Justin Webb

Monday 8 November 2020, 5pm GMT/12pm ET. Register here.  

Our annual Robert H Smith Lecture in American Democracy will once again be held in partnership with the LSE Department of Government. This year, the lecture will be on the theme of “Is American Democracy Under Threat?” with journalist Justin Webb. 

Justin Webb was a roving foreign correspondent for the BBC for many years reporting from wars in the Gulf and Bosnia, the breakup of the Soviet Union and the end of Apartheid in South Africa. He was Europe Correspondent when the Euro was introduced before moving the US where he became the first BBC North America Editor. He was based in Washington DC from 2002 to 2009 before returning to present the Today Programme on Radio Four. He is a regular writer on US affairs for the Times and the Unherd website. He was educated at the LSE, graduating with a BSc (Econ) in 1983.

Ben’s Book Club: ‘The Cabinet’ by Dr Lindsay M. Chervinsky

Wednesday 3 November, 12pm ET/5pm GMT. Register here 

Join us for the November instalment of Ben’s Digital Book Club, a monthly virtual gathering looking at themes relating to Benjamin Franklin, the 18th century, and American history.

Dr Lindsay M. Chervinsky, Senior Fellow at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, and Professorial Lecturer at the School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University, will discuss her book, The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution, which reveals how George Washington created one of the most powerful bodies in the federal government.  

Dr Chervinsky is a historian of Early America, the presidency, and the government — especially the president’s cabinet. She produces history that speaks to fellow scholars as well as a larger public audience. Dr Chervinsky believes history can be exhilarating and she works to share her passion with as many people as possible. Her research can be found in publications from op-eds to books, speaking on podcasts and other media, and teaching for every kind of audience.

You can order a hardcopy or e-book here (UK) or here (US).

Join us even if you don’t have a chance to read the book by the event date! 

This event is free of charge but please consider making an online donation here to support the work of Benjamin Franklin House. 

Live History Class for Kids: The British in America

Thursday 14 October, 4.30pm BST/11.30am ET. Register here for this 30-minute class.

Join our virtual history classes on the 2nd Thursday of the month at 4.30pm BST to learn about to key events in early American history. Together we will uncover the past and develop historical skills!

In this class, we’ll find out how Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ North America in 1492 as well as learning about the first permanent British settlers in the early 17th century. We’ll then put ourselves in their shoes by writing a diary entry.

Activity materials: paper and pencil/pen

Most suitable for KS2 and KS3 (US Grades 2-8) but all ages welcome!

Watch the full class here:

Live History Class for Kids: Pre-Colonial America

Thursday 9 September, 4.30pm BST/11.30am ET. Register here for this 30-minute class.

Join our virtual history classes on the 2nd Thursday of the month at 4.30pm BST to learn about to key events in early American history. Together we will uncover the past and develop historical skills!

In this class, we’ll find out about the different tribes who were living across North America before Europeans arrived on the continent. We’ll discover their customs and ways of life, before creating a piece of art inspired by Native American designs.

Activity materials: paper and colouring pencils/ pens

Most suitable for KS2 and KS3 (US Grades 2-8) but all ages welcome!

Watch the full class here:

Family Day: Strike a Pose!

Tuesday 24 August 11am-12.30pm. Book tickets here.

Benjamin Franklin, like many important figures in history, has featured in paintings and sculpture. Visit the virtual exhibition, Franklin In Portraits, on our Bloomberg Connects Guide to learn about some of the most famous ones. Children will become artists for the morning and create their own portraits using sculpture and collage techniques!

Most suitable for ages 5-11 but all ages are welcome!

COVID-19 Safety Precautions:

– We are limiting bookings to 10 people. Each family group will receive their own pack of materials to use for the crafts

– Activities will take place in a well-ventilated historic space with hand sanitiser and sanitising wipes available

– All staff and adult visitors are encouraged to wear a mask 

Virtual Alternative

If you would prefer to learn with Benjamin Franklin House remotely, you can sign up here for a 30-minute follow-up via Zoom at 3pm BST/10am EDT on Tuesday 24 August. To complete the self-portrait activity at home, you will need: colouring paper/ pens and paper

If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact our Education Manager.

Family Day: Print This!

Tuesday 3 August 11am-12.30pm. Book tickets here.

Did you know that Ben Franklin started out as a printer? Nowadays we think of a printer as something that connects to a computer but the mechanical printing press was cutting edge technology in Franklin’s time. Join us for this fun-filled family day to learn all about 18th Century printing methods and try your hand at some printing of your own!

Most suitable for ages 5-11 but all ages are welcome!

COVID-19 Safety Precautions:

– We are limiting bookings to 10 people. Each family group will receive their own pack of materials to use for the crafts

– Activities will take place in a well-ventilated historic space with hand sanitiser and sanitising wipes available

– All staff and adult visitors are encouraged to wear a mask 

Virtual Alternative

If you would prefer to learn with Benjamin Franklin House remotely, you can sign up here for a 30-minute follow-up via Zoom at 3pm BST/10am EDT on Tuesday 3 August. To complete the printing activity at home, you will need: cardboard, scissors, pva glue, masking tape, paint and paper. 

If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact our Education Manager.