When America Was Really Polarized

By |2018-10-17T22:11:17-05:00October 17th, 2018|

When Americans claim that the 2016 election was the most contentious in history or that we’ve never been as divided as a people as we are now, I have to try very hard not to be smug. After all, unlike folks who actually have to show a profit each year, I as a college professor [...]

Thomas Jefferson and the Paradox of Slavery

By |2018-04-19T20:32:27-05:00April 17th, 2018|

The masters of slaves, it turned out, were themselves neither independent nor self-sufficient, but were bound to, and reliant upon, their slaves both for their welfare and their identity. This vague recognition in part accounts for the grim tone that Thomas Jefferson adopted in his analysis of slavery: He had to confront the prospect [...]

The World They Made Together

By |2018-01-12T22:35:09-05:00January 10th, 2018|

Thomas Jefferson knew black people’s daily lives, aptitude and fortitude, their beliefs and courage and human warmth. He was at home with black people whether they were new to Virginia or had been born after several generations in Virginia and were integral within his conjoined families…   The World They Made Together, Black and [...]

Vindicating the Founders?

By |2019-03-21T10:44:35-05:00November 5th, 2017|

Conservatives should be troubled by Thomas West's claim that America has always been lib­eral and that the only historical discourse available today is that same liberalism... Vindicating the Founders: Race, Sex, Class, and Justice in the Origins of America, by Thomas G. West (211 pages, Rowman and Littlefield, 1997) Thomas West has written a courageous [...]

Race Against Reason

By |2019-01-25T08:41:10-05:00March 22nd, 2017|

What unites all people essentially and what gives all people their inalienable dignity, and the rights that follow therefrom, is their essential humanity… There can be no doubt that we are living in a racially-charged climate. The problems associated with the relations between the races seem to dominate the debate in all areas of [...]

Remembering Our Founding… Slaveowners?

By |2016-06-08T22:10:33-05:00June 8th, 2016|

Last year, I decided to take my teenage sons on a trip across the country. We traveled in our motor home, starting in our home state of Utah, visiting sites of historic significance along the way. I am not a historian, but on this trip I discovered that left-leaning benefactors doling out large grants [...]

Abraham Lincoln Reconsidered

By |2016-06-14T09:40:53-05:00April 14th, 2016|

With the time and manner of his death Abraham Lincoln, as leader of a Puritan people who had just won a great victory over “the forces of evil,” was placed beyond the reach of ordinary historical inquiry and assessment. Through Booth’s bullet he became the one who had “died to make men free,” who [...]

How Equality Is Misleading

By |2016-07-04T01:02:48-05:00February 28th, 2016|

I Let us have no foolishness, indeed.* Equality as a moral or political imperative, pursued as an end in itself—Equality, with the capital "E"—is the antonym of every legitimate conservative principle. Contrary to most Liberals, new and old, it is nothing less than sophistry to distinguish between equality of opportunity (equal starts in the "race of [...]

Did Religious Fanaticism Cause the Civil War?

By |2015-08-27T11:00:17-05:00August 20th, 2015|

A Disease in the Public Mind: A New Understanding of Why We Fought the Civil War, by Thomas Fleming (Boston: Da Capo Press, 2013) The title of this engaging analysis of the cause of the American Civil War comes from James Buchanan’s reaction to John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, which the president claimed stemmed [...]

Is the Civil War Long Gone and Far Away?

By |2015-07-06T15:01:39-05:00July 6th, 2015|

Sitting at my desk in Louisiana the other week, where it was already as hot as it gets in Boston on the summer’s hottest day, my title, “Is the Civil War Long Gone and Far Away?,” seemed the way to pose the question I wanted to address on what I anticipated, correctly, would be [...]

Ebola, the Slave & the Puritan Preacher

By |2015-01-05T16:48:26-05:00January 15th, 2015|

As the world grapples with fearsome Ebola Fever, we have been through something similar before. Last time it was stemmed in Colonial America by a black African slave and his owner, a firebrand, evangelical, white clergyman. Onesimus was a slave, owned by the Puritan polemicist and renowned preacher Cotton Mather (1663-1728). Beyond Black Studies [...]

Lincoln’s Inversion of the American Union

By |2014-09-06T00:11:07-05:00August 12th, 2014|

The moral grandeur of Lincoln is rooted in the myth that he made a war on the South to abolish slavery. This is, at most, a Platonic noble lie designed to legitimate the Unionist regime. Lincoln thought that slavery was immoral, but so did Robert E. Lee. And Lee, at his own expense, freed [...]

The Human Republic: Cato and Cora

By |2018-08-17T10:36:20-05:00February 13th, 2014|

During his famous and well-attended University of Pennsylvania lectures of 1790 and 1791, James Wilson attempted to define the ideas of the American founding period. Others had done the same thing, or soon would, in a comprehensive fashion. The very first history of the revolution appeared in 1789, written by southerner David Ramsey. In [...]

Emancipate, but Colonize: Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery Consensus

By |2016-06-02T15:02:56-05:00April 28th, 2013|Tags: , |

Mathew Carey Left out in Steven Spielberg’s cinematic work of hagiography, Lincoln, is the fact that, as scholar Phil Magness continues to show us, the sixteenth president was devoted until his dying day to a program of African colonization as a component of any scheme of black emancipation. In this, of course, [...]