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John Adams and the Good Life of the Mind

David McCullough Discusses the Legacy of John Adams at the American Academy

Wednesday, March 13th, 5:30 p.m.

The Memorial Church
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138

In 1779, John Adams returned to Massachusetts from his first tour of duty in France. During the following year, while the Revolutionary War still raged, Adams established the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Inspired by the French Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences, Adams founded the American Academy to promote the ideals that he had previously articulated in the Massachusetts Constitution: to provide education and to "cherish" the interests of the arts, sciences, commerce, trade and natural history. Today, the American Academy remains a living monument to the intellectual and educational goals that John Adams laid out more than two centuries ago.

To honor the close relationship between the American Academy and John Adams, on March 13th acclaimed historian and author David McCullough will discuss "John Adams and The Good Life of the Mind" at the Academy's 1856th Stated Meeting. McCullough's 2001 biography of the 2nd President of the United States has become an international bestseller while prompting a greater appreciation for both Adams's personal character and his goals for the new nation. At the same time, the Academy is installing John Singleton Copley's 1783 portrait of John Adams, the only known life-size portrait of Adams. Copley himself was an early Academy Fellow. The painting is on loan from the Harvard University Collections. Louis W. Cabot, Vice President of the Academy, will preside over the meeting and Academy Fellow Pauline Maier, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, will introduce McCullough.


David McCullough is a world-renowned author, speaker, editor, and historian. He is twice winner of the National Book Award and twice winner of the prestigious Francis Parkman Prize. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Truman, and has written books on the Johnstown Flood, the Panama Canal and the young Theodore Roosevelt. He is a familiar presence on public television, as host of "Smithsonian World" and "The American Experience," and as a narrator of documentaries, including "The Civil War" and "Napoleon." McCullough is an avid reader, traveler, and landscape painter. He is a Fellow of the American Academy and a Proprietor of the Boston Athenaeum.

The American Academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams and other scholar-patriots "to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people." The current membership of over 3,700 Fellows and 600 Foreign Honorary Members includes more than 150 Nobel laureates and 50 Pulitzer Prize winners. Drawing on the wide-ranging expertise of its membership, the Academy conducts thoughtful, innovative, non-partisan studies on international security, social policy, education, and the humanities.

For more information please call our Events Office at (617) 576-5040.

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