Was Alexander Hamilton a Great Man?

By |2020-07-10T14:58:18-05:00July 12th, 2015|Categories: Alexander Hamilton, Books, Featured, Forrest McDonald|

Forrest McDonald’s biography most likely will prove indispensable. What Alexander Hamilton thought, and how he came to think it, is nowhere else so plain as here. Alexander Hamilton: A Biography, by Forrest McDonald (New York: W. W. Norton & Co.) That Alexander Hamilton was among the most luminous and creative of the Founding Fathers every schoolboy [...]

Civil Society and Its Rivals

By |2017-02-24T14:49:36-06:00May 2nd, 2015|Categories: Books, Forrest McDonald|

Conditions of Liberty: Civil Society and Its Rivals by Ernest Gellner The existence of individual liberty as it is known in the western world is, according to the eminent social anthropologist Ernest Gellner, conditional upon the presence of civil society—institutions and associations that are strong enough to check the power of the central state but [...]

Conservative Scholarship and the Problem of Myth

By |2015-10-28T10:07:55-05:00March 30th, 2015|Categories: Forrest McDonald, History, Myth|Tags: |

On the face of things, conservatism and historical scholarship would appear to be antithetical ideals. A viable social order seems to require, among its other adhesives, a set of fictions agreed upon as truths—myths and their corresponding symbols—to provide the sense of legitimacy and purpose which are necessary if people are to live together in [...]

Original Unintentions: The Franchise and the Constitution

By |2021-03-03T16:39:48-06:00October 22nd, 2013|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Constitution, Forrest McDonald|Tags: |

Certain features of the Constitution are almost invisible because they refer to previously existing institutions, constitutions, laws, and customs that are nowhere defined in the Constitution itself. The controversy over originalism-the question whether judges, in interpreting the Constitution, should be guided by the original intentions of the Framers or by some other standard-has generated a [...]

The Imaginative Historian: Forrest McDonald and the Art of History

By |2017-01-07T09:19:47-06:00October 10th, 2013|Categories: Forrest McDonald, History, Stephen M. Klugewicz|

Many believe that objectivity is the historian’s goal. But Forrest McDonald believed that history by its very nature entails artifice; the historian is not simply a mere recorder or reporter of events, but also an artist... “History is marble, and remains forever cold, even under the most artistic hand, unless life is breathed into it [...]

A Conservative Historian’s Memoir

By |2016-01-22T00:06:19-06:00October 5th, 2013|Categories: Books, Forrest McDonald, George Nash|Tags: |

Recovering the Past: A Historian’s Memoir, by Forrest McDonald As a talented college athlete in the 1940s, Forrest McDonald hoped to become a major league baseball player. He might well have succeeded, had he been able to hit a curve ball. Fortunately for students and scholars of American history, he soon discovered where his greater [...]

The Political Thought of Gouverneur Morris

By |2016-06-14T09:53:38-05:00May 18th, 2013|Categories: American Founding, Constitution, Forrest McDonald, Political Philosophy|

Gouverneur Morris As is well known, Gouverneur Morris, the New York aristocrat who represented Pennsylvania in the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, wrote the Constitution of the United States. When the Convention completed its substantive deliberations on September 10, it turned its various resolutions over to a Committee of Style and Arrangement, consisting of [...]

History of States’ Rights, 1774-1817

By |2020-01-02T12:11:45-06:00February 7th, 2013|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Charles Carroll, Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Featured, Federalist Papers, Forrest McDonald|

On the eve of the American Revolution, most American thinkers had embraced the idea of all rights (and, therefore, sovereignty) being inherited.[1] Americans, as brothers and descendents of Englishmen, were entitled to the rights inherited from the English through the development of Anglo-Saxon common law and through the several political battles, such as those witnessed most [...]

Low Expectations: The American Presidency

By |2013-12-31T10:42:50-06:00August 15th, 2012|Categories: American Republic, Books, Forrest McDonald, George Washington, Presidency, Thomas Jefferson|Tags: |

The American Presidency, by Forrest McDonald Twice, in The American Presidency, Professor Forrest McDonald states that the executive office of our government “has been responsible for less harm and more good … than perhaps any other secular institution in history.” In the same sentence, he also notes that “the caliber of the people who have served as chief [...]

John Dickinson: The Most Underrated Founder?

By |2020-07-12T16:57:13-05:00June 18th, 2012|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Books, Constitutional Convention, Forrest McDonald, John Dickinson|

John Dickinson’s standing in the American pantheon is shamefully obscure in view of his contributions toward the establishment of an independent regime of limited government, federalism, and liberty under law. Having studied eighteenth-century America all our adult lives, we are prepared to offer a generalization: the more one learns about the subject, the less prone [...]

The Rhetoric of Alexander Hamilton

By |2020-01-07T11:41:56-06:00June 1st, 2012|Categories: Alexander Hamilton, American Founding, American Republic, Forrest McDonald|Tags: |

The political rhetoric of the Founders of the American Republic has received scant attention from scholars. The relative neglect is understandable. On the one hand, the very concept of rhetoric has, in modern times, all but lost its classical signification, and has come to mean empty verbosity or ornament. On the other, the political achievements [...]

George Washington: Indispensable Man

By |2021-02-21T11:53:05-06:00May 1st, 2012|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Forrest McDonald, George Washington|Tags: |

George Washington was respected, admired, even revered by his countrymen, and he was the most trusted man of the age. What is more, and different, he was the most trustworthy man. The question of why this is so must be examined if we are to understand Washington’s true legacy. The men who established the American [...]

The American Presidency: The Living Embodiment of the Nation

By |2017-12-18T23:52:20-06:00March 13th, 2012|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Books, Forrest McDonald|Tags: |

The American Presidency: An Intellectual History by Forrest McDonald (528 pages, University Press of Kansas, 1994) Forrest McDonald’s The American Presidency: An Intellectual History is a most impressive work. Few contemporary books in American politics reflect the careful and prodigious research, as well as the considerable breadth of knowledge and historical insight brought to bear by [...]

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