Monthly Archives: September 2016

Visiting St. Vincent College

Let me check in with a report from my trip this week to Latrobe, Pennsylvania—just outside of Pittsburgh.

Now, I learned a number of things about the area.

1. Latrobe is the hometown of Mr. Rodgers. I guess I was literally in “Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood.” I had the privilege of speaking in the “Fred Rodgers Center.” I’m just glad that the dress code did not require a cardigan sweater.

2. Latrobe is also the hometown of Arnold Palmer, the golfer. I was very impressed with the Palmer memorabilia I encountered around town and even at my hotel. My one oversight during the trip was my failure to order a half iced tea/half lemonade.

3. Latrobe is home to the training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers. We walked past the practice fields, where Steelers fans prepare for every season with hope.

4. Latrobe is home to St. Vincent College, my hosts. St. Vincent College was founded by the Benedictine missionary Boniface Wimmer. He founded both a monastery on the site and eventually the college. The monastery is still active, and St. Vincent has been instrumental in encouraging Benedictine spirituality throughout the country.

5. St. Vincent College is home to the Center for Political and Economic Thought, an institute doing really outstanding educational work for their students.

The Center, in cooperation with their Political Science Department, hosted me for St. Vincent’s Constitution Day Lecture. I had the privilege of speaking on “The Other Publius: John Jay’s Constitutional Moment.” Publius was the pseudonym for the authors of The Federalist Papers. While Alexander Hamilton and James Madison regularly get a lot of attention, Jay’s constitutional contributions are often overlooked. I was aiming to remedy that.

My hosts were incredibly gracious, and it was great to address a large auditorium. The questions posed by students and faculty were thoughtful and pushed in ways that helped me unpack some concepts I only gestured towards in the talk.

In short, the experience really made me appreciate another liberal arts college doing impressive things. May they bear good fruit!

Saint Vincent Basillica

The beautiful Basilica at Saint Vincent College. Courtesy Wikipedia.

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Teaching the American Revolution and Early Republic

As I always like to say, “Nothing says up-to-date like two months between blog posts!”

The semester has now begun at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul.

This semester, I’m teaching an “Honors Western Civilization” class, as well as the first half of our U.S. History Survey.

I also have the chance to teach an upper-level class in “The American Revolution and Early Republic.”

Some people have asked about readings. The books I’m assigning are these:

Ellis, Joseph. Founding Brothers. NY: Knopf, 2000.

Fischer, David Hackett. Washington’s Crossing. NY: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Frohnen, Bruce. The American Republic. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002.

Kidd, Thomas. God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution. NY: Basic Books, 2010.

Morgan, Edmund. The Birth of the Republic, 1763-89, 4th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.

Course Packet. Includes articles and primary sources.

The class already has a great vibe, and I’m looking forward to the class debates that start next week (for instance–“Should America declare independence?”). One other wrinkle that I’ll be throwing is playing selections from the Hamilton musical to keep us all on our toes. And, not to disappoint, we will talk about the Federalists.

Earlier this week I reflected on how I’m also planning to integrate religious history into the course. You can read that post here.

And now…off to class!

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