Public Program- Jane Kamensky

Lectures and Performances
Thursday, October 2, 2008 - 7:30pm

Boom and Bust in the Early Republic
by Jane Kamensky

Exchange Artist

Andrew Dexter, Jr., dreamed and built the nation's first skyscraper, the Boston Exchange Coffee House, which opened to the public in early 1809. The tower, called a "modern Babel" in the day's newspapers, stood seven stories tall. But its massive solidity was an illusion; the building was financed by millions of unsecured paper notes printed by banks throughout the new American republic. The collapse of Dexter's pyramid scheme caused the nation's first banking collapse, imperiling everyone and everything connected with his grand building and plunging New England into a financial panic of epic proportions. Based on her latest book, The Exchange Artist: A Tale of High-Flying Speculation and America's First Banking Collapse (Viking, 2008), this lecture will explore America's oscillation between financial confidence and panic, a cycle as old as the United States itself.

Jane Kamensky is Chair of the Department of History at Brandeis University. In addition to The Exchange Artist, she is the author of the forthcoming novel BLINDSPOT, written jointly with Jill Lepore, among other books. A member of the editorial boards of the Journal of American History, the Journal of the Early Republic, and the Massachusetts Historical Review, Kamensky co-founded Commonplace, an award-winning online journal sponsored by the American Antiquarian Society that she and Jill Lepore created and co-edited from 2000 to 2004.

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