Category Archives: Meeting announcement

Meeting of October 12, 2017

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, October 12, at Camden County College in the Connector Building, Room 101. This month’s topic is

David O. Stewart on “Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy”

Impeached traces the explosive impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson to its roots in the social and political revolutions that rocked the South with the end of slavery and of the Civil War. As president after Lincoln’s assassination, Johnson, a Tennessee Democrat, not only failed to heal the nation’s wounds but rather rubbed them raw, ignoring widespread violence against the freed slaves and encouraging former rebels to resume political control of the Southern states. His high-handed actions were opposed by the equally angry and aggressive Congress, led by Rep. Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania, an ardent foe of slavery who aimed to rebuild American society on principles of equality and fairness.

David O. Stewart’s first book, The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution, was a Washington Post bestseller and won the Washington Writing Award as Best Book of 2007. Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy, was called “the best account of this troubled episode.” American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America, examines Burr’s Western expedition, which landed him on trial for treason. The Washington Post called Madison’s Gift: Five Partnerships That Built America, a portrait “rich in empathy and understanding” by “an acknowledged master of narrative history.” David also writes fiction. Bloomberg View said The Lincoln Deception, about the John Wilkes Booth Conspiracy, was the best historical novel of 2013. The Washington Post described The Wilson Deception, set at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, as ““Another terrific Fraser and Cook mystery.” In its review of The Babe Ruth Deception in 2016, the Washington Times described David as “one of our best new writers of historical mysteries.” He is president of the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Meeting of November 9, 2017

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, November 9, at Camden County College in the Connector Building, Room 101. This month’s topic is

James Scythes on “This will make a man of me: The Life and Letters of a Teenage Officer in the Civil War”

thomas-james-howellThis presentation focuses on the life of seventeen-year-old Thomas James Howell, who was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Tom Howell’s experiences give us a rare look at the war through the eyes of a teenage officer. The letters that he wrote home to his family tell the story of a young man coming of age in the army. As a young officer, he faced particular challenges as he sought to earn the respect of both the men he commanded and his superiors. Despite the challenges he faced, Howell believed that it was his duty to serve and by serving he would prove that he was a man. This study represents a valuable addition to Civil War literature by offering a unique perspective of the war as it was seen through the eyes of a teenage officer.

james-scythesJames Scythes earned a B.A. in history at Rowan University and has a Master of Arts in history from Villanova University. He is a tenure track Instructor of History at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. His research interests focus on antebellum America, American Civil War, and 19th century military history. Professor Scythes has published a number of encyclopedia articles, and in July 2016 Lehigh University Press published his first book, “This Will Make a Man of Me”: The Life and Letters of a Teenage Officer in the Civil War. He also serves on the Board of Trustees at the Gloucester County Historical Society, and is a member of the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table of Philadelphia.

Meeting of December 14, 2017

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, December 14, at Camden County College in the Connector Building, Room 101. This month’s topic is

Walt Lafty on “Walt Whitman, the Civil War’s Poet Patriot”

Walt will focus on how the Civil War impacted the writings of Walt Whitman and his contributions to the war effort.

For over 30 years, Walt Lafty Jr. has been an amateur genealogist and has researched three direct ancestors who served in the Civil War. With that information and a lifelong interest in history, he began studying and participating in Civil War history. Since that time, Walt joined various groups dedicated to preserving the memory of those ancestors and civil war history. Those groups include: Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), Bucks County CWRT, DELVAL CWRT, Old Baldy CWRT, and the G.A.R. Museum and Library.

Walt was born, raised, and currently lives in Philadelphia. After enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1968, he served 13 months in Vietnam with the 45th Military Intelligence Company and with the Combined Intelligence Center Vietnam (CICV). He became a Philadelphia Firefighter in 1975 and retired in 1999 to take a position with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s Bureau of Alcohol Education. In 2016 he retired as a supervisor from the PLCB.

In 1996 he earned a B.A.in Psychology from Holy Family University after eight years of part time courses. Walt is married with three children, one step child (deceased), and ten grandchildren.