Category: The Historical Muse

Thoughts on history and the historical profession. Clio is the muse of history–this category title is a play on that concept.

Impeachable Offenses: A History (Part 3)

In my previous two posts, I offered insights on impeachable offenses from the preeminent expositor of the Constitution in early America, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, and from one of the most learned legal scholars of the twentieth century, Raoul Berger. In this, my final post dealing with the subject, I turn to what the House of Representatives concluded during its investigation of Richard Nixon’s potential impeachment. Yes, that House conclusion was written when Democrats controlled the House, but it… Read more »

Impeachable Offenses: A History (Part 2)

In my last post, I drew from my book, Mission: Impeachable, on whether an impeachment and removal from office required the violation of a specific law. I quoted Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story (served 1812-1845) who, in his Familiar Exposition of the Constitution, noted that the history of impeachment, both in theory and in practice, had never laid down such a requirement. Story was the most eminent constitutional commentator of his day, and his view needs to be taken seriously…. Read more »

Impeachable Offenses: A History (Part 1)

We are in the midst of another impeachment drama, the third in my lifetime. The first, that of Richard Nixon, didn’t reach a full House vote or a Senate trial due to Nixon’s wise decision to resign. The second, that of Bill Clinton, went to the Senate but suffered from the tribalism that so affects us still today, with not even one Democrat voting to remove him from office. After that failed attempt to turn the presidency over to VP… Read more »

Post 9/11: A Divided America

Can anything new be said on the anniversary of 9/11? Maybe we don’t need to hear anything new; perhaps we just need to be reminded that there are those out there who hate us. However, what is meant by “us?” America, you say? Yes, in the abstract, but what comprises America anymore? On 9/11, eighteen years ago today, members of Congress stood on the steps of the Capitol and sang together. At the moment, I can’t recall if they sang… Read more »

On Bad Times: A Historian’s Perspective

As I survey the current state of America—the spiritual/moral, political, and cultural aspects [what does that leave?]—I have grave concerns. But I’d like to offer a historian’s perspective on bad times. Since I teach American history, I have a more in-depth knowledge of what has transpired previously. I can imagine myself transported back into earlier eras and think about how I might have felt about current events at those times. Bad moral climates, disunity, and devastating government policies have cropped… Read more »

The Roots of Liberation Theology

What is Liberation Theology? How did it begin? What dangers has it brought to the Church? This brief history of its origins comes from the Christian History Institute. It’s very instructive. At the end, I’ll have a few more comments. THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, whose sessions ran 1962 through 1965, issued changes that the council hoped would allow the Roman Catholic Church to function more effectively and with greater popular appeal. Three years after it ended, Latin American bishops met… Read more »

The Great Confrontation

Seventy-one years ago yesterday, one of the most intense political confrontations in American history occurred in the US House of Representatives. August 25, 1948, was the day that the man on the right in this photo, Alger Hiss, was asked publicly whether he had ever known the man standing on the left side of the photo. His name was Whittaker Chambers. What was the controversy all about and why did it captivate the public for the next two years? Chambers,… Read more »