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.

Lincoln Book Recommendation

Whenever I read a good book, I’d like to pass on a positive review. Last week, I commented on Lincoln, as his 200th birthday was upon us. I am presently reading Harold Holzer’s new Lincoln book (Holzer is a LIncoln scholar and a fine writer), Lincoln, President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter, 1860-1861. It is fascinating. What did Lincoln go through, what did he have to deal with, as he awaited his succession to the presidency? From November 1860… Read more »

Happy Birthday, Abe

Yesterday was the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, a man who has been a source of great controversy among conservatives. They are divided: some respect him greatly, while others consider him a violator of the Constitution and a tyrant. In my early years, I tended to lean in the latter direction. I was so devoted to states’ rights and so distressed over the growth of the federal government that I felt Lincoln was a large part of… Read more »

A First Amendment Guarantee

Besides the freedom of religion clauses of the First Amendment, there is another guarantee there that is threatened: freedom of speech. Now, we have, over the years, added some rather foggy ideas of what freedom of speech entails. It has been expanded to include coarse language that used to be avoided and artistic expressions that can only be legitimately described as obscene. That’s not what the Founders intended by the phrase “freedom of speech.” For them, it was primarily freedom… Read more »

Great Power or Great Responsibility?

So many people want to be president. Perhaps it would do them some good to remember comments by America’s first three presidents. When Washington was elected to the presidency, he wrote to Henry Knox: My movements to the chair of Government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution: so unwilling am I, in the evening of a life nearly consumed in public cares, to quit a peaceful… Read more »

We Don't Need Another "Deal"

When Time magazine decided to show a cover depicting Obama as FDR, I could only shake my head. And now Obama is trying his best to be the next FDR, talking about a massive plan for public works. The little secret, which isn’t really much of a secret anymore (except to those who refuse to listen) is that FDR’s New Deal never brought America out of the Great Depression. By the end of the 1930s, the economy was just as… Read more »

The Uninformed American Public

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has conducted a new study that probably should surprise no one who is really following the educational trends and the knowledge base of Americans. I’ll let ISI describe the results: Are most people, including college graduates, civically illiterate? Do elected officials know even less than most citizens about civic topics such as history, government, and economics? The answer is yes on both counts according to a new study by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI). More than… Read more »

The Many Deaths of the Republican Party

Herbert Hoover & the Great Depression The Republican Party has “died” many times. Yet it always seems to be resurrected. We can start with Herbert Hoover, whose administration coincided with the Great Depression. Elected in 1928 at the height of economic prosperity, Hoover has ever since been associated with the worst economic disaster in American history. He did help make it happen; specifically, he helped prolong it with his government interventionist policies. But his successor, FDR, was the one who… Read more »