Lecture: Stephen Mihm

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Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries Auditorium

“A Nation of Counterfeiters: Capitalists, Con men, and the Making of the United States,” Stephen Mihm, UGA history professor. Mihm's talk is in conjunction with the exhibit "Gold-digging in Georgia: America’s First Gold Rush." Gold nuggets, historic maps, photographs, postcards and other artifacts help tell the story of Georgia’s antebellum gold rush – which preceded the frenzy in California by two decades – in an exhibit at the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

The exhibit features a complete set of Dahlonega Mint coins and illustrates how this  early development of southern industrialization, while profitable, was also destructive as it remade local economies, societies, and environments. In pursuit of wealth, miners ripped apart stream beds and hillsides, cut down forests, and erected miles of wooden flumes and towns of wooden shacks. Public and private mints sprang up to transform precious metal into currency and, with the help of the state and federal governments, speculators obsessed with the prospect of riches drove the Cherokee from Georgia.

A centerpiece of the exhibit is the Thomas Leverette McMullan Reed Creek Collection of Dahlonega Mint Coins, recently donated to the UGA Libraries by Mr. McMullan’s son, John. Support for the exhibit was provided by John F. McMullan, the James W. Woodruff, Sr. Center for the Natural History of Georgia, the Stephen E. Draper Center and Archives for the Study of Water Law and Policy and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. 

The exhibit, at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries, will be on display through Dec. 5.