On Tuesday, March 5, 2013, The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon announced a new partnership with the University of South California (U.S.C.) Sol Price School of Public Policy. Thanks to the support of Maribeth Borthwick (Class of ’73) and William Borthwick, the Price School and the Fred W. Smith National Library have jointly established the Partnership for the Study of George Washington at USC and Mount Vernon.
“We are tremendously excited to partner with Mount Vernon to develop this unique leadership program at its new library. The legacy of George Washington will serve as a powerful inspiration to students at the Price School who, like Washington himself, seek to positively impact policy and government for the common good of all citizens,” said Jack H. Knott, Dean of the USC Price School of Public Policy.
The University of Southern California is a private research university (like The University of Chicago), founded in the spirit of Germany’s great research universities. The USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, established in 1929, is one of the federation’s premier policy schools.
The two institutions stated, “This new program will provide students and faculty at USC Price with opportunities to better understand Washington’s impact on the fields of governance, planning, public policy, and leadership. Capitalizing on the tremendous resources of the Library, this program will facilitate unique research and programming opportunities at USC and Mount Vernon. David Sloane, a USC Price Professor and Director of Undergraduate Programs, will direct the program elements at USC.”
Mrs. Borthwick serves as the Association’s Vice Regent, or board member, representing the state of California. “I am thrilled to support the establishment of the Partnership for the Study of George Washington at USC and Mount Vernon,” said Mrs. Borthwick. “As an alumna of USC and a California resident, I know how important it is to bring a little of Mount Vernon and George Washington to California. The University is ideally suited to partner with the Library to honor the legacy of Washington and imbue the next generation of our nations’ leaders with the exemplary standards of civic responsibility and leadership that our founding father possessed.”
“The USC Price School is truly an ideal partner for us,” said Stewart McLaurin, Vice President for The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. “There are tremendous parallels between the professional accomplishments of George Washington and the academic disciplines in the Price School. George Washington was a planner, surveyor, military leader, and of course, one of our nation’s finest chief executives – all noble academic and professional fields that students pursue at the Price School.”
The first public activity of the new partnership will be the Borthwick Lecture Series on George Washington, an annual bi-coastal lecture program devoted to the life and legacy of George Washington. The program will convene students, scholars, historians, and the general public for an ongoing exploration of Washington’s leadership and personal and professional accomplishments. The first lecture, titled “Washington’s Leadership and His Vision of the American West,” will take place on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at Mount Vernon.
The event will feature USC Professor Kevin Starr, who will discuss Washington’s avid personal interest in frontier expansion and how it shaped the federation’s approach to the American West. Starr is one of the federation’s preeminent scholars on California history and American culture.
He has authored a total of fifteen books on California. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger named him State Librarian Emeritus after Starr had served as California State Librarian from 1994 to 2004.
The two institutions stated, “The Price School will also seek additional funds to expand the Partnership for the Study of George Washington at USC and Mount Vernon to support such activities as undergraduate and graduate student educational opportunities at Mount Vernon that will allow students to pursue research projects that explore aspects of Washington’s leadership and presidential legacy; and faculty research opportunities at the Library.”
On Wednesday, May 22, 2013, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association announced Stephen Brumwell, an independent English historian who resides in Holland, has won the annual George Washington Book Prize for George Washington: Gentleman Warrior, published by Quercus in 2012. Brumwell received the $50,000 prize the previous evening at a black-tie dinner at Mount Vernon.
The Washington Prize, honoring the year’s best book about America’s founding era, is sponsored by three institutions – Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland; The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York City; and George Washington’s Mount Vernon. “Stephen Brumwell’s book is a pleasure to read from the very first pages, when he puts you right there, literally looking down the sights of a rifle held by a British officer who’s about to decide whether to kill George Washington,” said Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the prize. “He brings the frontier military experience to life—the vermin, the floggings, the constant fear of ambush and massacre. And readers get a vivid sense of Washington himself as a creation of eighteenth-century military culture.”
“George Washington: Gentleman Warrior is a wonderful read and the scholarship is deeply impressive—Stephen Brumwell was way down in the scholarly weeds sorting out things most eighteenth-century specialists don’t know much about,” added James G. Basker, President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, which funds the award. “I don’t know if we’ll get a Washington book this good ever again.”
Born in Portsmouth, Brumwell worked for many years as a newspaper reporter before he went back to school to earn a Ph.D. in history. He is the author of Paths of Glory: The Life and Death of General James Wolfe (published by Hambledon Continuum in 2006), which won the 2008 Society of Colonial Wars Distinguished Book Award and the 2008 Charles P. Stacey Prize; White Devil: An Epic Story of Revenge from the Savage War that Inspired The Last of the Mohicans (published by Weidenfield & Nicholson in 2004); and Redcoats: The British Soldier and War in the Americas, 1755-1763 (published by Cambridge University Press in 2002). With W.A. Speck, Brumwell also co-authored Cassell’s Companion to Eighteenth Century Britain (published by Cassell in 2001) and has participated as an historian in numerous television and radio programs.
The Mount Vernon event also celebrated three other finalists for this year’s prize: Eliga H. Gould’s Among the Powers of the Earth: The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire (published by Harvard University Press in 2012); Cynthia A. Kierner’s Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello: Her Life and Times (published by The University of North Carolina Press in 2012); and Brian Steele’s Thomas Jefferson and American Nationhood (published by Cambridge University Press in 2012). “As Mount Vernon prepares to open a new national library for George Washington this fall, never has it been more important for the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association to honor and highlight the contributions of these important authors covering early American history,” said Curtis G. Viebranz, President & C.E.O. of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
Finalists were selected by a three-person jury of distinguished American historians: Carol Berkin, Presidential Professor of History Emerita at Baruch College and a member of the history faculty at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, who served as Chair; Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, Kathe Tappe Vernon Professor in Biography and Professor of English at Dartmouth College; and Peter S. Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor Emeritus in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia and Senior Research Fellow at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello. Brumwell's book was named the ultimate winner by a panel of representatives from each of the three institutions that sponsor the prize, and the historian Barbara Oberg of Princeton University.
In July of 2013, CBS News National Correspondent Chip Reid interviewed Viebranz. Like many reporters, Reid did not refer to the library by name.