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.

Teaching the Controversial Civil War Era

For the 6th time in my tenure at Southeastern, this fall I will be teaching my course on the Civil War Era. The topic is one of intense interest for many students, albeit one of continuing controversy. I do my best to deal fairly with those controversies—this is a part of American history that still lingers with us today. It’s not merely a course that describes battles. Rather, it begins with a discussion of issues that led to the conflict:… Read more »

Historiography: Creating Christian Historians

Every year I teach my historiography course. The uninitiated will immediately respond, “What does that mean?” This is a required course for all history majors at Southeastern. The goals are the following: Provide a history of the writing of history throughout the ages (different perspectives and schools of thought); Think through how a Christian should understand and interpret history; Become proficient in researching, writing, and documenting papers on historical subjects. Although some may think that sounds like a “dry” course,… Read more »

My New Semester: Creating Appreciation for American History

In two weeks, all the faculty meetings begin; in three weeks, classes start once more. My summer of research, reading, and preparation for the new semester will come to an end. I will begin my 30th year of teaching university students. One of the courses I’ll be teaching this fall is the one I always teach in the fall: my basic American history survey course that covers America from its colonial days through Reconstruction after the Civil War. I’ve used… Read more »

The Prickly Tariff Issue

I know that writing about tariffs doesn’t sound all that appealing, but I wouldn’t have to do this if President Trump hadn’t decided to make them so central to his policy. After all, here’s what he tweeted a couple of days ago: Tariffs are the greatest! Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs. It’s as simple as that – and everybody’s talking! Remember, we are… Read more »

Gilbert Tennent & the First Great Awakening

Whenever I get an e-mail from the Christian History Institute that is pertinent to American history, I like to pass it on. This one deals with the life of Gilbert Tennent, one of the premier preachers of the First Great Awakening. Here’s that account: Tennent arrived in America from Ireland at the age of fourteen. His father, William, founded a “Log College” to train ministers. Following his father into the ministry, Gilbert was ordained in 1726. He had little success… Read more »

Nikki Haley & Mature Conservatism

I’ve been impressed by Nikki Haley for quite some time: first, as governor of South Carolina, and now as our UN ambassador. What I read about her today has only increased my appreciation for her as a spokesperson for mature conservatism. Yesterday, she spoke to the High School Leadership Summit, a conference for conservative teenagers. In discussing what leadership means, she told them they had to take a more responsible, reasonable approach to those with whom they disagree. Her words:… Read more »

Reagan & Trump: The Dishonesty of the Moral Equivalence Defense

If you’re going to say anything to help explain why evangelicals are so on board with Donald Trump, at least don’t be dishonest about it. The dishonesty rears its head particularly when comparing Trump to Ronald Reagan. It happened again recently on Fox News when the Rev. Robert Jeffress stated that Reagan was a “known womanizer” also. Jeffress continued, “The reason we supported President Reagan was not because we supported womanizing or divorce. We supported his policies.” I can try,… Read more »