WILLIAMSTOWN -- A presentation chronicling the lives of three Williams College alumni who fought in the Civil War will kick off the Williamstown Historical Museum's free fall lecture series Saturday.
Local Historian Dustin Griffin will present the lecture, "Three Williams Generals in the Civil War," at 11 a.m. at the David and Joyce Milne Public Library, 1095 Main St. The presentation highlights the military and civilian careers of James A. Garfield, Ranald Slidell Mackenzie and Samuel Chapman Armstrong.
Griffin, who was a speaker for the museum's winter lecture series, said Thursday that this lecture was an outgrowth of his interest in the connections between Williamstown and the Civil War.
"In this lecture, I'm shifting my attention from Williamstown to Williams College and thinking about the large number of people from the college who signed up for and fought in the war," he said.
In his research, he came across Mackenzie and Armstrong, who rose to the rank of general before the age of 25, and Garfield, who rose to the rank of general before he turned 30, he said. Garfield also later became president of the United States.
"It's quite unusual for someone to rise so rapidly to the rank of general like that," Griffin said. "I wondered what was special about them."
The second lecture in the museum's series will be presented by Bob Volz, custodian of the Chapin Library at Williams College. The presentation,
Volz said the presentation will explore the potential outcome of scenarios, such as what would have happened had George Mason not noted on the working copy of the Constitution to have the majority of the congressional vote needed to override a presidential veto changed from three-fourths to two-thirds.
"What if Virginia had not written its Constitution before the Declaration of Independence?," he asked. "It was passed in early June 1776. A copy was sent up to Thomas Jefferson, and he borrowed heavily from it in writing the Declaration of Independence."
By looking at the texts of the founding documents, and then looking at some of the earlier versions of those final texts, a lot more meaning can be gathered from them, he said.
"There is so much behind every one of these documents," he said.
To reach Meghan Foley, email email@example.com.