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The 2024 Rabinor Lecture in American Studies, Speaker: Jon Parmenter

Wednesday, April 10, 2024 at 5:00pm

Goldwin Smith Hall, Lewis Auditorium - G76
232 East Ave, Central Campus

The 2023 - 2024 Rabinor Lecture in American Studies

Title: Cornell University’s Origins in Indian Country

Speaker: Professor Jon W. Parmenter, Cornell University

Abstract: New York State received nearly one-tenth of the “public land” granted by the 1862 Morrill Act, the income from which was to constitute an endowment for at least one college in the state providing instruction in agriculture and the “mechanic arts.”  The subsequent administration of those resources by Ezra Cornell and succeeding Cornell University officials took advantage of minimal federal regulatory oversight at the time to adopt innovative financial mechanisms which yielded, by 1935, nearly one-third of the total Morrill Act land-grant revenues generated by all the states to Cornell University. Analysis of the parcels of Morrill Act acreage located, entered, and subsequently managed by Ezra Cornell (and later, by Cornell University staff), permits us to identify nine specific treaty surrenders of Indigenous land concluded circa 1825-1851 with six different tribal nations that later generated direct benefits to Cornell University.  By demonstrating the relationship between Cornell University’s founding and particular incidences of Indigenous dispossession, the lecture (and pending monograph) aims to inform subsequent conversations regarding the University’s obligations as a land-grant institution to some of the key original stakeholders in its founding: the Indigenous nations whose birthright served not only as the economic fuel sustaining the University through its first fifty years of existence but also continue to yield material benefits to the University to the present day.

Bio: Jon Parmenter is an Associate Professor of History at Cornell University who teaches courses in early American and Indigenous history.  He is currently completing a book that shares the title of this lecture.


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Event Type



American Studies Program, Migrations, Sustainability

University Themes



#cashum, #amstcal, #cascal, arthistory



Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Melissa Totman

Contact Phone



Jon Parmenter

Speaker Affiliation

Cornell University

Speaker Web Site

Dept. Web Site

Disability Access Information

please contact for accommodations

Open To

the Cornell community

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