Skip to main content

In commemoration of the Bicentennial of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812, and led to long-lasting peace and friendship between the United States and Great Britain, a series of events is being planned in and around Washington, D.C. during October 10 and 11 of 2014.

Dates and Times


$185 per person


October 10: the George Washington University, Jack Morton Auditorium
October 11: George Washington's Mount Vernon, Robert H. and Clarice Smith Auditorium

The Sulgrave Symposium is named in honor of Sulgrave Manor, the ancestral home of George Washington, located in Oxfordshire, England. The event will be cohosted by Mount Vernon; the Friends of Sulgrave Manor; and the George Washington University, an institution which grew out of President Washington’s desire to establish a national university, for which he left money in his last will and testament. The symposium will highlight the history and joint contributions of the U.S. and U.K. in the areas of diplomacy, government and academia, while exploring the "British" character of early America through the U.S. Civil War.

Friday, October 10, 2014
at The George Washington University


12:30-12:40 p.m.


Dr. Steven Knapp, President, the George Washington University

Jack Morton Auditorium, Media and Public Affairs Building

Session I: Before the Friendship
12:40-2 p.m.

Panel Discussion led by Dr. Denver Brunsman 

Citizens and Subjects: Legacies of the War of 1812

Dr. Denver Brunsman, associate professor of history, George Washington University

National Tongues: Britain, America, and Language in the Early Nineteenth Century

Dr. Daniel DeWispelare, assistant professor of English, George Washington University

“Home, Sweet Home” to Pinafore: Nineteenth-Century British Theater Music as American Culture

Dr. Karen Ahlquist, associate professor of music, George Washington University

2-2:45 p.m.

Tea Reception outside the Luther Brady Art Gallery featuring an exhibit, Icons of British Sculpture


The British landscape has informed its artists for centuries, their sculptors taking cues from the craggy beaches and rolling hills. Organized by the Reading Public Museum in Reading, PA the exhibition includes work by: Kenneth Armitage, Anthony Caro, Lynn Chadwick, Barry Flanagan, Barbara Hepworth, and Henry Moore

Session II: After the Friendship
3-4 p.m.

The British and U.S. Systems of Campaign Finance and Elections
by Lady Jill Knight and Trevor Potter, moderated by Dr. Dane Kennedy, Elmer Louis Kayser Professor of History and International Affairs, George Washington University

Joan Christabel Jill Knight, Baroness Knight of Collingtree, DBE is a former British Conservative Member of Parliament, and currently serves in the House of Lords. She was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Birmingham Edgbaston in 1966, and held that seat in successive elections until 1997. For more than two decades she was an active member of the Conservative Monday Club and was an outspoken opponent of the Irish Republican Army.

Trevor Potter is the founding President and General Counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, a non-profit organization in Washington D.C. focused on improving the U.S. campaign finance and election process. He is one of the nation's best-known and most experienced campaign and election lawyers, and is a former Commissioner (1991-1995) and Chairman (1994) of the Federal Election Commission. Mr. Potter has been described by the American Bar Association Journal as "hands-down one of the top lawyers in the country on the delicate intersection of politics, law and money."

 Jack Morton Auditorium, Media and Public Affairs Building

Saturday, October 11, 2014
at George Washington's Mount Vernon

8:30-9:30 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast provided by the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant in the Vaughan Lobby. Breakfast will include a special viewing of Francis Scott Key’s original draft of the Star-Spangled Banner
9:30-10:15 a.m.

The Duke’s Disciples: Marlborough’s Aides in America, 1704-1752 
by Stephen Saunders Webb

On March 12, 1702, John Churchill, then earl of Marlborough, was commissioned captain general by Queen Anne. On August 13, 1704, now the duke of Marlborough, he led allied armies army to victory at Blenheim, on the banks of the Danube, over the army of Louis XIV. The immediate European effect was to save Vienna. The immediate American effect was to save Boston and New York. Long term results were achieved by the sixteen officers, bloodied at Blenheim, who were nominated by Marlborough to be royal commanders-in-chief of England’s American colonies. The negative case is that of the dashing Virginian, Colonel Daniel Parke, Marlborough’s aide de camp. The “Loyalist” Parke was murdered by the “Patriots” of Antigua. More accommodating, Marlborough’s major of brigade, Bt. Lt. Col. Robert Hunter “invented Wall Street,” New York. Marlborough’s deputy chief of staff, Bt. Lt. Col. Alexander Spotswood, designed and built Williamsburg, creating America’s official architecture. Spotswood, and another Marlborough veteran and Virginia commander in chief, Major William Gooch, together raised the “American” Regiment and commissioned its senior captain, Lawrence Washington. At his death, on July 26, 1752, the adjutant general of Virginia, left his plantation, “Mount Vernon,” and Marlborough’s drill book, to his devoted half-brother, George Washington.

Stephen Saunders Webb is the Maxwell Professor of History and Social Science, and Professor of History, Emeritus, in the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. He is the author of The Governors-General, 1676, and Lord Churchill's Coup, and, most recently, Marlborough’s America.

10:15-10:30 a.m. Refreshment Break
10:30-11:15 a.m.

Admiral Edward Vernon and the Origins of Transatlantic Patriotism 
by Steven Pincus

Admiral Edward Vernon, after whom Lawrence Washington named Mount Vernon, was widely celebrated as the hero of the British attack on the Spanish stronghold of Porto Bello. What is less well known is that Vernon and his brother James played a key role in articulating a set of political principles that became known as Patriotism in the eighteenth century. The Vernons promoted economic growth for the entire British Empire, not just England, and believed Britain needed to pry open Spanish American markets for British manufactures. They wanted the colonies to develop diversified economies, based on interplay between production and consumption. That is why James Vernon, as a Georgia trustee, insisted that slavery be banned in the new colony established on South Carolina's southern frontier. The Patriot political program enunciated by Edward and James Vernon involved imperial economic and political integration, opposition to slavery, and politics of prosperity rather than one of austerity. The Patriotism they enunciated in the 1730s and 1740s gave rise to the Patriotism that George Washington sought to defend in the 1770s.

Steven Pincus is a professor of History at Yale, where he teaches 17th and 18th century British and European history, the history of the early British Empire, and Directed Studies. He is the author of Protestantism and Patriotism: Ideologies and the Making of English Foreign Policy, 1650-1668 and England’s Glorious Revolution 1688-89 and most recently 1688: The First Modern Revolution.

11:15 a.m.-1 p.m. Lunch at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant
1:15-2 p.m.

An Empire Divided: The American Revolution and the British Caribbean 
by Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy

There were 26 not 13 colonies in British America in 1776. The majority and wealthiest of the rest were in the Caribbean (Jamaica; Barbados; Antigua; St. Kitts; Nevis; Montserrat; Grenada; Dominica; St. Vincent; and Tobago). They shared many important similarities with the mainland colonies but they did not rebel. Indeed, they did not even participate in the pamphlet war with Britain. The talk will explain their response and illustrate the importance of this region for the outcome of the Revolutionary War.

Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy is the Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, as well as a Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He is the author of The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire.

2-2:15 p.m. Refreshment Break
2:15-3 p.m.

A Bicentennial to Commemorate: How the Peace of Ghent (1814) Helped Turn the United States into a Great Treaty-Worthy Nation 
by Eliga Gould

To most Americans, the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812 is even more forgettable than the conflict it brought to a close. Signed on Christmas Eve 1814 in the Flemish city of Ghent, the treaty settled none of the grievances that had led Congress to break off relations with Britain, and it was concluded two weeks before Andrew Jackson’s celebrated victory at New Orleans. To this day, many people regard the fighting on the Gulf Coast, not the negotiations in Europe, as the war’s actual end. Drawing on his book Among the Powers of the Earth, Eliga Gould will suggest that this perception is only partially correct. Among other things, it exaggerates the significance of events on the battlefield, and it misses the importance that Americans attached to being accepted as a treaty-worthy nation. As the Peace of Ghent showed, the Anglo-American diplomacy that ended the war played at least as large a role in the United States’ subsequent history as Jackson’s spectacular (but late) military victory. For that reason alone, its bicentennial is a moment worth commemorating.

Eliga Gould is professor of history and chair of the History Department at the University of New Hampshire. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on the history of early America, with a particular emphasis on the American Revolution. His is the author of Among the Powers of the Earth: The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire, and Empire and Nation: The American Revolution and the Atlantic World.

3-3:15 p.m. Refreshment Break
3:15-4:15 p.m.

A World on Fire: A Epic History of Two Nations Divided 
by Amanda Foreman

As America descended into Civil War, British loyalties were torn between support for the North, which was against slavery, and defending the South, which portrayed itself as bravely fighting for its independence. At the heart of this international conflict lay a complicated and at times tortuous relationship between four individuals: Lord Lyons, the painfully shy British Ambassador in Washington; William Seward, the blustering U.S. Secretary of State; Charles Francis Adams, the dry but fiercely patriotic U.S. ambassador in London; and the restless and abrasive Foreign Secretary Lord John Russell. Despite their efforts, and sometimes as a result of them, America and Britain came within a whisker of declaring war on each other twice in four years.

A World on Fire gives fresh accounts of Civil War battles by seeing them through the eyes of British journalists and myriad soldiers on both sides, from flamboyant cavalry commanders to forcibly conscripted private soldiers. This book shows how the War took place in England, from the Confederacy's secret ship-building program in Liverpool to the desperate efforts of its propagandists and emissaries - male and female - to influence British public opinion.

Amanda Foreman is the author of the award-winning best seller, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. She was born in London, brought up in Los Angeles, and educated in England. She received her doctorate in Eighteenth-Century British History from Oxford University and is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at Queen Mary University of London. She writes the popular Wall Street Journal column “Historically Speaking.”

4:15-5 p.m. Roundtable Discussion
led by Dr. Douglas Bradburn, Founding Director,
Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington
5-5:45 p.m. Book Signing in the Vaughan Lobby
6-7:30 p.m. 
Piazza reception and tours at Mount Vernon Mansion