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C.V. Starr Center for the

Study of the American Experience

Current Fellows

Through its fellowship programs, the Starr Center supports innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to the American past – especially by fostering the art of written history.

Patrick Henry Writing Fellow


imageJames Rice is the 2014-2015 Patrick Henry Writing Fellow.  A scholar specializing in early American history with an emphasis on Native America, he has written extensively about landscape and culture in the seventeenth century in the Chesapeake and the Atlantic world. During his yearlong fellowship at the Starr Center, he will work on completing a narrative account of the “Powhatan Uprising” of 1622. 

 A professor of history at SUNY Plattsburgh, Rice is the author of Nature and History in the Potomac Country: From Hunter-Gatherers to the Age of Jefferson (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009) and Tales from a Revolution: Bacon’s Rebellion and the Transformation of Early America (Oxford University Press, 2013). In addition to his project on the Powhatan Uprising, he is currently working on an environmental history of Native Americans in North America from the last ice age to the present day. The book is under contract with Cambridge University Press. Rice has been a scholar in residence at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and a Carson Fellow at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich.

As part of his Washington College residency, Rice will teach a spring-semester course titled “Native America, Modern America.”

To see a full press release, please click here.

To see Jim Rice’s presentation “At a Given Signal: The Powhatan ‘Uprising’ of 1622,” please click here.

To see an interview with Jim Rice, please click here.

 Hodson Trust-John Carter Brown Fellow

imageWe welcomed Richard Francis to the Washington College community during June and July, 2014.

Dr. Richard Francis is the 2013-14 Hodson Trust-John Carter Brown Library Fellow.   Francis conducted research for his current project, a novel based upon the life of Boston merchant and judge Samuel Sewall, at the John Carter Brown Library in fall 2013.  He was in Chestertown to complete the writing portion of the fellowship during the summer of 2014.

Francis holds a Ph.D. from Exeter University and spent two years as an American Council of Learned Societies Fellow at Harvard before teaching American literature at Manchester University and the University of Tripoli. Francis alternates between writing novels and nonfiction (biographies and works about the history of American culture).  He is the author of Transcendental Utopias (Cornell University Press, 1997), Judge Sewall’s Apology: The Salem Witch Trials and the Forming of a Conscience (Fourth Estate, 2005), and Fruitlands: The Alcott Family and Their Search for Utopia (Yale, 2010), as well as ten novels, including The Old Spring (Tindal, 2010) and Prospect Hill (Fourth Estate, 2003). Francis has received awards from the Arts Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Board, and the British Academy. For more information on Richard Francis and his work, please visit: http://richardfrancis.wordpress.com/

Senior Fellows

Senator Birch Bayh
Senior Fellow, C.V. Starr Center


Birch Bayh is a leading statesman and former member of the United States Senate from Indiana.  During his three-term service in the Senate – from 1962 to 1980 – he played a key role in passing historic legislation affecting the American presidency and the individual rights of women, minorities, and youth.

A renowned expert on the U.S. Constitution, Senator Bayh authored two Constitutional Amendments.  After the assassination of President Kennedy, he drafted the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which established the rules for presidential and vice-presidential succession. In the midst of the Vietnam War, he authored the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 – and enfranchised 11 million young Americans, who previously had been considered old enough to die for their country but not old enough to vote for their president. With its passage, Senator Bayh became the only American since the Founding Fathers to draft more than one Amendment to the Constitution.

Senator Bayh was the author and chief sponsor of two narrowly defeated Amendments to the Constitution:  the Equal Rights Amendment, which passed both Houses of Congress, but failed to be ratified by three-fourths of the states and the Direct Popular Vote Amendment, which would have abolished the Electoral College. Bayh wrote the landmark legislation Title IX to the Higher Education Act that mandates equal opportunities for women students and faculty. Senator Bayh also played a vital role in the drafting and passage of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In recognition of his dedication to protecting minority rights, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights bestowed their highest award on him in 1972 for “his unyielding dedication to human equality and civil freedom.”

Bayh is currently a partner at one of Washington’s most distinguished law firms, Venable LLP. Since leaving the Senate, Birch Bayh has continued to fight for the principles he championed there.

Separation of Church and State
in Principle and Politics

Birch Bayh: 
What Leadership 
Ought to Look Like


Richard Beeman 
Senior Fellow, C.V. Starr Center



Richard Beeman is one of the nation’s foremost historians of America’s revolutionary and early national experience. A member of the faculty at University of Pennsylvania for 43 years, he has served on the scholarly advisory board of the American Revolution Center and the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center.

Beeman is the author of six books and several dozen articles on revolutionary America, including  Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor: The Forging of American Independence 1774-1776(Basic Books, 2013) and Patrick Henry: A Biography (McGraw-Hill, 1974), which was a finalist for the National Book Award. His 2009 book, Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution (Random House) won the George Washington Book Prize in 2010, garnering acclaim from the jurors who praised it as “the fullest and most authentic account of the Constitutional Convention ever written.”

Holding a Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago, Beeman is a former editor of American Quarterly, the journal of record for scholars in American Studies. His teaching interests center on colonial America and the American Revolution, American constitutional history, and the history of the American presidency. 

Over the course of his career, Beeman has received numerous awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and the Huntington Library.  He has been a Fulbright Professor.

Richard Beeman appearances on The Daily Show: