Ben Franklin’s Calvinist Sister

In my Baylor graduate seminar on the American Revolution, we recently read Jill Lepore’s marvelous Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin. She details Ben and Jane Franklin’s lengthy correspondence, pondering the ways in which the circumstances of history allowed the bright boy Ben to pursue fame and scientific knowledge, while Jane married [Read More...]

Does the Bible Prohibit Revolution?

My graduate students and I recently read James Byrd’s terrific Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution. This book is a treasure trove of information about how the Patriots and Loyalists actually used the Bible during the Revolution. The most surprising fact I learned from the book is that Romans 13 – in [Read More...]

Graduate Course on the American Revolution

This semester I am teaching a graduate seminar on the American Revolutionary Era. As I have written before, choosing a book list for a graduate course is not as simple as picking 13 to 15 of your favorite books on a topic. When assigning books, I take several factors into account – inexpensive editions (usually [Read More...]

Clemson vs. The Secularists

The football program at my beloved alma mater, Clemson University, has become the target of legal threats by the militant secularist/atheist group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation. This group trolls about the country, looking for evidences of religion in public life, and threatening lawsuits whenever such evidences are discovered. Clemson’s coach Dabo Swinney is an [Read More...]

An Interview with Andrew O’Shaughnessy, Author of The Men Who Lost America

Today’s guest post is an interview with Dr. Andrew O’Shaughnessy, by David Moore. Dave blogs at www.twocities.org. Dr. Andrew O’Shaughnessy is vice president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello.  His book, The Men Who Lost America (Yale, 2013) has received number of awards, and is a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize.   [Read More...]

Slavery: America’s Original Sin?

[This week's post is from my archives at Patheos.] The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has a touring exhibit entitled “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty.” At the front of the Smithsonian display stands a life-size statue of Jefferson, backed by a panel listing the known names of about 600 slaves who worked for Jefferson [Read More...]

Five Great Books on George Washington

Last week saw the opening of the long-awaited George Washington National Library at Mount Vernon. Washington himself seems to have had such a project in mind at the end of his life, when he wrote in 1797 that “I have not houses to build, except one, which I must erect for the accommodation and security [Read More...]

Five Compelling Books on the American Revolution

For the Fourth of July, here are five compelling books on the American Revolution. A few caveats: these are all books written by academic historians for a popular audience. I’m not including books on the Revolution by journalists and other writers, though there are many excellent ones, such as Ron Chernow’s biographies of Alexander Hamilton [Read More...]

The NSA Controversy, the Founding Fathers, and the Fourth Amendment

My latest post for The Federalist Papers reflects on the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens against “unreasonable searches and seizures,” and requires that warrants be justified by “probable cause.” What was the historical context of the Fourth Amendment, and why were the Founders so concerned about what they called “general warrants”? More [Read More...]

“Great Pillars of Human Happiness”: How Religion Frames American History

In February I spoke at Regent University’s annual Reagan Symposium. This year’s theme was religion and presidential rhetoric, and C-SPAN has posted video of the event, with lectures by others including historians Daniel Dreisbach, Richard Gamble, Paul Kengor, and Gary Scott Smith. In my lecture, titled “Great Pillars of Human Happiness”: How Religion Has Framed [Read More...]


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