The Book That Changed America: How Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation

August 1, 2017 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
The Stable at The Mount
2 Plunkett St
Lenox, MA 01240
$30 general; $25 Mount members
Photo by Eric Campos

Randall Fuller’s talk about his latest book, The Book That Changed America: How Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation, will offer a compelling portrait of a unique moment in American history when the ideas of Charles Darwin reshaped American notions about nature, religion, science and race.  In early 1860, a single copy of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was read and discussed by five important American intellectuals: Harvard botanist Asa Gray; child welfare reformer Charles Loring Brace; Franklin Sanborn, a key supporter of the abolitionist John Brown; the philosopher Bronson Alcott; and Henry David Thoreau.  These prominent figures grappled over the course of that year with Darwin’s dangerous hypotheses and seized on the book’s assertion of a common ancestry for all creatures as a powerful argument against slavery. The Book That Changed America provides new perspectives on America prior to the Civil War, showing how Darwin’s ideas become potent ammunition in the debate over slavery and helped advance the cause of abolition by giving it scientific credibility.

The lecture, which will be held in the historic Stable, will be followed by a tea and book signing. The doors will open at 10:15 a.m.

Eventbrite - The 2017 Summer Lecture Series

Randall Fuller is the author of From Battlefields Rising: How the Civil War Transformed American Literature, which won the Phi Beta Kappa’s Christian Gauss Award for best literary criticism, and Emerson’s Ghosts: Literature, Politics, and the Making of Americanists. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications, and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is Chapman Professor of English at the University of Tulsa.

Refund requests will only be honored if made more than one week prior to lecture date.

We would like to thank Blantyre, a Relais & Chateau property, for their generous donation and support of this season’s Summer Lecture Series at The Mount.

The Mount is a Massachusetts Cultural Council UP designated organization welcoming participants of all disabilities. Please contact Nicole Williams at 413-551-5100 or by email,, to discuss accommodations needed to participate fully in this event. Caregivers are admitted free-of-charge.