Garry Wills, cultural historian and adjunct professor of history at Northwestern University, delivered the 2002 Julius Rosenthal Foundation Lecture Series April 9-11, 2002.
Wills has proven himself over many years to be the nation's most versatile and imaginative historian. Equally known for the depth of his thought and the gracefulness of his writing, he is the author of more than 20 widely read books on American culture and politics. His book, Lincoln at Gettysburg (1993), won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature for its close textual analysis of the Gettysburg Address.
His three lectures focused on President Thomas Jefferson and how the skewed representation of blacks at the three-fifths rate lurked behind most of the major events of his presidency. The lectures were titled "Louisiana and the Slave Power" (April 9), "Aaron Burr and the Slave Power" (April 10), and "Jefferson's Embargo and the Slave Power" (April 10).
The lecture series has assumed a preeminent position among distinguished legal lecture programs. Publication of the lectures has contributed to legal literature and scholarship for more than 60 years. Professor Wills has carried on this tradition with his bold and energetic approach to history.
In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Wills has received the National Book Critics Award twice, the Organization of American Historians Merle Curti Award and the Yale Graduate School's Wilber Cross Medal. In 1998 he received the received the National Humanities Medal in honor of his lifetime achievements in the humanities.
His books include, among others, Nixon Agonistes (1970), Inventing America: Jefferson's Declaration of Independence (1978), Explaining America: The Federalist (1980), The Kennedy Imprisonment (1982), Reagan's America (1987), Under God: Religion and American Politics (1990), Witches and Jesuits: Shakespeare's Macbeth (1994) and John Wayne's America: The Politics of Celebrity (1997). A member of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is also frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines.