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The Men Who Lost America

SAR Visiting Professor speaks at King’s College London

By Michael J. Elston,
President, Virginia Sons of the American Revolution
SAR Magazine
Winter 2017, Vol. 111, No. 3

Top, Professor O’Shaughnessy; middle, PG (2013-2014) Joe Dooley, left, discussed the Georgian Papers Program with, from left, Arthur Burns, Michael Elston, Andrew Lambert, Professor O’Shaughnessy; and Oliver H. Urquhart Irvine, The Librarian, Royal Library, and Assistant Keeper of the Queen’s Archives; bottom, near the entrance to the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle, Dooley (second from right) discusses 18th century history and the
resources at the archives with Sir John Elliott, Regius Professor Emeritus of Modern History at Oxford
(center), and Professor O’Shaughnessy (right).

Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy, the first Sons of the American Revolution Visiting Professor at King’s College London (King’s), gave a public lecture on Feb. 13, 2017, in London. Approximately 150 historians and students attended. Professor O’Shaughnessy spoke about the British leaders profiled in his book, The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the Revolutionary War and the Fate of Empire. He also discussed the impact of the Georgian Papers Programme on our understanding of the Atlantic world in the 18th century in general and the American Revolution in particular. The lecture was hosted jointly by the Georgian Papers Programme and the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War at King’s College.

Arthur Burns, Vice Dean (Education) of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, welcomed attendees to the Great Hall on the Strand campus of King’s in London’s West End. Burns is a professor of modern British history and the academic director of the Georgian Papers Programme. He acknowledged with gratitude the SAR’s generosity in sponsoring the SAR Visiting Professorships.

Andrew Lambert, Laughten Professor of Naval History at King’s, then introduced Professor O’Shaughnessy. In addition to being the first Sons of the American Revolution Visiting Professor at King’s, O’Shaughnessy is professor of American history at the University of Virginia, vice president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, and Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello. O’Shaughnessy also served as the SAR Distinguished Scholar for the 2015
SAR Annual Conference on the American Revolution.

Professor O’Shaughnessy’s wit was on display during the lecture, and his comments on Lord North, in particular, were appreciated by the audience. Lord North was the prime minister during the Revolution and asked King George III for leave to resign on several occasions, but the king would not let him do so. O’Shaughnessy also acknowledged the role of the SAR in the Georgian Papers Programme and commended the organization for its support of academics studying the Revolutionary War era. Following his lecture, he answered several questions from the audience before showing a clip from the Mel Gibson movie, The Patriot, to underscore his points regarding the post-war portrayal of British commanders in American popular culture.

President General (2013-2014) Joseph W. Dooley, chairman of the SAR’s King’s College London Partnership Committee; Virginia SAR President Michael J. Elston, vice chairman of the committee; and Emily Elston, 1st Vice President of the Virginia Society Children of the American Revolution, attended the lecture. The following day, PG Dooley, President Elston and 1st VP Elston enjoyed a private tour of the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle and met with several people involved in scanning and indexing the Georgian Papers. They also had the opportunity to see first-hand some of the Georgian Papers, including a letter to George III written by Prince William Henry (later King William IV) giving his impressions of occupied New York City. The 16-year-old prince was then a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and serving in North America.

The Georgian Papers Programme is a partnership between the Royal Archives and Royal Library and King’s College. King’s, in turn, has partnered with other organizations in the development of public engagement programming and enhancing digital access. In addition to the SAR, other partners include the Library of Congress, College of William & Mary, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, and Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon. The SAR’s role, of course, is to support three eight-week visiting professorships at KCL for American professors over a three-year period. The SAR’s support may be extended for another two years.

For more information about the program, visit its official website or the US or UK websites. Also, please visit the SAR’s webpage on our partnership with King’s College.

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