Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story

Feb 12, 2020, 4:30 pm6:30 pm
Lewis Library 120


Event Description

Wilfred M. McClayG.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty, University of Oklahoma; 2019-2020 Ronald Reagan Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University; Commentators: Darren StaloffProfessor of History, City College of New York; Sean WilentzGeorge Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History, Princeton University; Moderator: Allen C. GuelzoSenior Research Scholar in the Council of the Humanities and Director of the James Madison Program Initiative on Politics and Statesmanship, Princeton University

Those who approach the study of American history deserve an introduction that sweeps across politics, social life, and culture, without demanding the reader’s assent to an ideological agenda. They deserve a history that cultivates the ground for patriotism but freely acknowledges our national shortcomings. Any nation requires, and America may particularly need, a shared story, one in which the living participate and the dead are respected without blind veneration.  Wilfred McClay’s Land of Hope recognizes, in the author’s own words, that “the teaching of national history in our schools has many purposes, but chief among them is the task of civic formation: the formation of citizens who are active, responsible, loyal, reflective, and free.” He rightly asks, “How well are we doing at that task? How could we do better?”  Is McClay’s Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story the history Americans today—particularly young Americans—need for their civic formation? Our panel of distinguished historians, including Wilfred McClay himself, will take up these questions. 

A book sale and signing will follow the discussion. 

Part of the James Madison Program Initiative on Politics and Statesmanship.

Wilfred M. McClay is the G. T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma and the author of Land of Hope (Encounter Books, 2019). He served from 2002 to 2013 on the National Council on the Humanities, and is currently serving on the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, which is planning for the 250thanniversary of the United States, to be observed in 2026. Among his books is The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America, which won the 1995 Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians for the best book in American intellectual history. He was educated at St. John’s College (Annapolis) and received his Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University. 

Darren Staloff is Professor of History at the City College of New York (CUNY) and was Director of the Hertog Scholars Program at the Macaulay Honors College, CUNY. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and was the James Madison Program’s 2006-2007 Garwood Visiting Fellow. His primary interest is early American intellectual and political history. He is the author of Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson: The Politics of Enlightenment and the American Founding (2007) and The Making of an American Thinking Class: Intellectuals and Intelligentsia in Puritan Massachusetts (1998). He has also designed and recorded several lecture series on American history and the history of philosophy with the Teaching Company. Professor Staloff received his B.A. from Columbia College and his M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Columbia University and is currently working on the history of the Enlightenment in America.

Sean Wilentz is George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History at Princeton University. He is the author of numerous books on American history and politics, including The Rise of American Democracy (2006), which won the Bancroft Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, The Politicians and the Egalitarians (2017), chosen as Best History Book of the Year by Kirkus and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation’s Founding (2018). A contributing editor to The New Republic and member of the editorial boards of Dissent and Democracy, Professor Wilentz lectures frequently and has written some three hundred articles, reviews, and op-ed pieces for publications such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books, the American ScholarThe Nation, Le Monde, and Salon. He received his Ph.D. in History from Yale University after earning bachelor’s degrees from Columbia University and Balliol College, Oxford University.

Allen C. Guelzo is Senior Research Scholar in the Council of the Humanities and the Director of the Initiative on Politics and Statesmanship in the James Madison Program at Princeton University. His award-winning books include Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President (1999), Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America (2004), and Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (2013). He is currently at work on a biography of Robert E. Lee. He has been awarded the Bradley Prize, the Lincoln Medal of the Union League Club of New York City, and the James Q. Wilson Award for Distinguished Scholarship on the Nature of a Free Society. Together with Patrick Allitt and Gary W. Gallagher, he team-taught the Teaching Company’s American History series, as well as courses on Abraham Lincoln (Mr. Lincoln, 2005) on American intellectual history (The American Mind, 2006), the American Revolution (2007), and the Founders (America’s Founding Fathers, 2017). From 2006 to 2013, he served as a member of the National Council on the Humanities. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.


Lecture Series
An America’s Founding and Future Lecture