Lowell Lecture

Duel Over Dinner: Washington and Hancock on State Sovereignty

Date & Time

Jan. 21, 2015


First Parish Church in Cambridge
3 Church Street Cambridge, MA 02138
Driving Directions


Timothy H. Breen, Historian, Northwestern University J.L. Bell, historian, moderator

Presenting Organization

Cambridge Forum


Current Affairs

Historian Timothy Breen explores one of the first disagreements over the power relationship between federal and state governments. In 1789 George Washington returned to Massachusetts for the first time since 1776, as part of his tour of all the states that had adopted the Constitution and elected him President of the United States. Most places welcomed Washington with pomp and ceremony, including Boston which organized a grand parade. Yet Washington found himself at odds with his old colleague John Hancock, oft-elected governor of Massachusetts. Who was the higher authority, the governor of a state or the chief executive of this new federal union? What did the arrangement those two statesmen worked out mean for the conflicts over states' rights that persist till today?