Blogs > Liberty and Power > Are Historians Shunning the Founders?

Jun 8, 2004 12:41 pm

Are Historians Shunning the Founders?

Michael Barone asks:

"Are our great universities abandoning the study of the American Revolution and the Founding Fathers? It looks like they are. Two of the leaders in colonial- and revolutionary-era scholarship, Bernard Bailyn at Harvard and Gordon Wood at Brown are being replaced by historians with no apparent interest in the Revolution and the founding." Read the rest here.

I am not sure about the extent of this trend nationally but it is certainly true at the University of Alabama. With the partial exception of one person who writes on American military history, we no longer have a specialist on the founders as such or American political and intellectual history in the eighteenth century.

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Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 6/8/2004

While it is true the poohahs of American education ran away from the Founding Fathers and their ideas about 30 years ago, those ideas are so powerful they will come around again and smite the poobahs. It would have been better if we had never dropped the torch, and had kept on demanding that every highschooler memorize the Preamble, etc., but we didn't. As it is, a generation has grown up quite ignorant of the American Revolution and its ideas, but they are hungry to learn more. This accounts for the popularity of new biographies of John Adams, the war movies, and the history channels, etc. It has also opened a niche for talk radio and the cable shows. The eclipse has co-incided with an enormous increase in overseas interest, especially in emerging countries who wish to duplicate the American success. When you take your kids to Constitution Hall or Mount Rushmore nowadays, half the visitors are from overseas, and many of them are more knowledgeable than the Park Service. In fact, these glorious ideas are much too powerful to ever die, or even to be neglected. Worldwide, they are certainly better known today than ever before. We may not live to see it, but they will be back in our own K-12s and higher schools one day, too. The K-12s and universities will perish sooner than our legacy from the Founders.