Library Projects Assistant
About the Topic
In the Founding era, there were persistent and unresolved tensions between secrecy and publicity in civic life. A closer look at George Washington’s views on secrecy—and in particular his prominent roles as presiding officer of a closed-door Constitutional Convention; as president of the United States when conceptions of executive privilege were first tested; and, perhaps not least, as a member of a secret-keeping fraternity of Freemasons who was, simultaneously, a thoughtful critic of associated secrecy as a danger in a republic--can provide an opportunity to explore how the very ideas of secrecy, publicity, and privacy were coming to be understood in the early days of the United States.
About Dr. Kevin C. Butterfield
Dr. Kevin C. Butterfield is the new Executive Director of the Washington Library. He comes to Mount Vernon from the University of Oklahoma, where he served as the Director of the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage and Constitutional Studies Program, holding an appointment as the Wick Cary Professor and Associate Professor of Classics and Letters. Dr. Butterfield has been honored with many fellowships to support his research from institutions such as the American Antiquarian Society, Winterthur Museum, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation at the Huntington Library, the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, and many others. In his role as the head of the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage at the University of Oklahoma, he engaged multiple public audiences in exploring current affairs with a historical approach focused on the Constitution and civic engagement.