Flagler Associate Professor Art Vanden Houten speaks at a May 2013 Community Lecture Series event.
Sept. 11, 2013
A May lecture by Flagler Associate Professor Art Vanden Houten on the impact of U.S. expansion in the state of Florida recently aired on “American History TV,” a C-SPAN series that features historical lectures by college and university professors.
The lecture was part of a year-long series of events surrounding the 125th anniversary of the opening of Flagler’s former Hotel Ponce de Leon, which is today Flagler College.
Vanden Houten’s lecture focused on the rise of America's global ambition and how it fueled individuals like Flagler, who was an industrialist, railroad magnate and luxury resort builder.
“There was this enduring faith that captivated the people from the time they first to came to the shores, this notion that America had this special privileged role ordained by the Almighty, to hold a special role in the course of human events,” he said. “But the other reason really was the potential for great profit.”
Vanden Houten said this concept of “manifest destiny” — the belief that American settlers were destined to expand across the continent — would guide the continual push past new frontiers in the New World, including Florida.
“Florida was seen as a place where men could invest their time, energy and will and ultimately turn its forest into a civilization,” Vanden Houten said. “Henry Flagler certainly typified that idea and his railroads made him one of the decisive figures in the development of the state.”
The lecture was part of Flagler College’s Community Lecture Series which this season features a lineup of historians and scholars discussing Henry Flagler’s vision for St. Augustine, social classes and American politics during the late 19th century, and the influence of art, music and literature during the Gilded Age.
The fall lineup kicks off on Sept. 17 with Flagler College art professor Catherine McFarland discussing the Aesthetic Movement of the 19th century.