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.

Democrats & the Economy: History Lesson #2

FDR changed the way Americans thought about the role of government by using government as the supplier of needs in a time of crisis. Lyndon Johnson, in the 1960s, took that concept a step further; one might refer to his “Great Society” program as the New Deal on steroids. The philosophy of the Great Society was a shift from helping in a time of need to helping all the time. Whereas the New Deal was conceived as a temporary measure… Read more »

Democrats & the Economy: History Lesson #1

In the midst of the current economic jitters, I have heard more than one commentator assert that when economic times are rough, voters tend to gravitate toward the Democrats. Why on earth would that be? I want to provide a little history lesson on how Democrats have handled the economy over the past 70-plus years. Let’s start with Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Great Depression hit America in 1929. Voters turned out the Republicans and looked to FDR to reverse the… Read more »

Celebrate the Constitution

This past week marked the 221st anniversary of the writing of the Constitution. From May to September 1787, delegates from all states except Rhode Island labored over the intricacies of what makes government work. They did this in a room with the windows closed even on the hottest days to ensure that their deliberations did not leak to the public. They took a vow of silence, so to speak, in order that they might be able to discuss freely without… Read more »

New Article Available: Reagan and FDR

This summer, I wrote another chapter in my ongoing quest to finish a book on Whittaker Chambers and Ronald Reagan. Out of the chapter I wrote during the summer, I excerpted a portion and turned it into an article regarding the admiration Reagan had for Franklin Roosevelt’s leadership style, even though Reagan ultimately changed his views about FDR’s policies. That article is now published and available for your perusal in the online journal First Principles. The title is “Ronald Reagan… Read more »

How Not to Become a Historian

My road to becoming a historian was a strange one. I think I always liked history; it was the history classes I didn’t like. Frankly, my early education was rather drab when it came to history. I have no memory of ever being inspired by what I was taught. I barely have a memory that I was taught at all. American history, in high school, was a dull affair. The teacher, who was also the basketball coach (this was in… Read more »

Reagan & Conservatism

I am busily developing a new course for SEU called “Ronald Reagan and Modern American Conservatism.” I hope to teach it next spring. It will be an ambitious project because there is so much to include. Originally, I had decided to do a course on Reagan only, but the more I thought about it, I realized I cannot treat him separately from the development of the conservative movement. Therefore, one of the books in the course will be George Nash’s The Conservative… Read more »