Stephen D. Solomon, author, journalist and New York University professor, will speak at 3 p.m., Friday, April 21, at Lewes Public Library. He will discuss his latest book, "Revolutionary Dissent: How the Founding Generation Created the Freedom of Speech" (St. Martin's Press, 2016). Sponsored by the History Book Festival and Lewes Public Library, the event is free and open to the public and will be followed by a book signing.
When members of the founding generation protested against British authority, debated separation, and then ratified the Constitution, they formed the American political character citizens know today - raucous, intemperate and often mean-spirited. "Revolutionary Dissent" brings alive a world of colorful and stormy protests that included effigies, pamphlets, songs, sermons, cartoons, letters and liberty trees. Uninhibited dissent provided a distinctly American meaning to the First Amendment's guarantees of freedom of speech and the press at a time when the legal doctrine inherited from England allowed prosecution of those who criticized government.
If American politics seem contentious today, they are tame compared to what Solomon reveals from this nation’s revolutionary past. From the inflammatory engravings of Paul Revere, to the political theater of Alexander McDougall, the liberty tree protests of Ebenezer McIntosh, and the oratory of Patrick Henry, Solomon shares the stories of the dissenters who created the American idea of liberty of thought.
"Revolutionary Dissent" includes characters from Delaware, and Mike DiPaolo, director of the Lewes Historical Society, will interview Solomon about Delaware's role in the creation of free speech in the nation, among other things.
Solomon is a professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. He is the director of Business and Economic Reporting, and the Marjorie Deane Professor of Financial Journalism. A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, he has written for numerous national publications including Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic and Inc. He won the two most prestigious prizes in business writing, the Gerald Loeb Award and the John Hancock Award for Excellence, as well as the Hillman Prize.
The History Book Festival is a nonprofit formed through the Greater Lewes Foundation. The first of its kind in the nation, the festival draws authors of history - fiction and nonfiction, adults’ and children's titles - to the Delaware beaches. In conjunction with launching the first full festival Friday and Saturday, Oct. 6 and 7, the organization is partnering with other arts and nonprofit organizations to bring history authors for special events like this year-round.
"Bringing Stephen Solomon to Lewes in cooperation with our community partners is exactly what makes the History Book Festival so exciting for Lewes and for Delaware," said Jen Mason, festival co-chair. "Steve is the fifth history author whom we have hosted since May, drawing audiences from across the state and beyond. Learning about history in this dynamic and engaging way helps us to understand our world and our lives in context, adding tremendous value for each of us as active citizens. This is what our libraries and the History Book Festival are all about."
"We are excited to be a partner of the History Book Festival and are pleased to host this literary event," added Andrea Tillinghast, Lewes Public Library director.
For more information about the History Book Festival, find the page on Facebook. For more information about Lewes Public Library, go to www.LewesLibrary.org.