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Ben's Book Club: ‘Past and Prologue’ by Michael D. Hattem

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This month we will be talking to Michael D. Hattem about his book, ‘Past and Prologue: Politics and Memory in the American Revolution’.

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This month we will be talking to Michael D. Hattem about his book, ‘Past and Prologue: Politics and Memory in the American Revolution’ which illustrates how colonists’ changing understandings of their British and colonial histories shaped the politics of the American Revolution and the origins of American national identity.

Between the 1760s and 1800s, Americans stopped thinking of the British past as their own history and created a new historical tradition that would form the foundation for what subsequent generations would think of as “American history.” This change was a crucial part of the cultural transformation at the heart of the Revolution by which colonists went from thinking of themselves as British subjects to thinking of themselves as American citizens. Rather than liberating Americans from the past—as many historians have argued—the Revolution actually made the past matter more than ever. Past and Prologue shows how the process of reinterpreting the past played a critical role in the founding of the nation.

Michael D. Hattem is a historian of early America, with a focus broadly on culture and politics in the long eighteenth century. He is the Associate Director of the Yale-New Haven teachers Institute and the Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools. Previously, he served as Visiting Faculty at The New School in 2017-2018 and as Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Knox College from 2018 to 2020.

Ben’s Book Club is our monthly virtual gathering looking at books relating to Benjamin Franklin, the 18th century, and American history.

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Organizer Benjamin Franklin House

Organizer of Ben's Book Club: ‘Past and Prologue’ by Michael D. Hattem

In the heart of London is Benjamin Franklin House, the world's only remaining Franklin home. For nearly sixteen years between 1757 and 1775, Dr Benjamin Franklin – scientist, diplomat, philosopher, inventor, Founding Father of the United States and more – lived behind its doors. Built circa 1730, it is today a dynamic museum and educational facility.

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