• Reconstruction: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
    Articles,  Blog

    Reconstruction: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    The American Civil War ended in 1865. And a new conflict immediately began. The North won the first war. The South won the second. To truly understand American history, one needs to understand how this happened, and why. The years immediately following the end of the Civil War—1865 to 1877—are known in American history as “Reconstruction.” What should have been a glorious chapter in America’s story—the full integration of 3.9 million freed slaves—instead became a shameful one. It began with the assassination of Republican president Abraham Lincoln. One week after the Civil War effectively ended, the one man with the political savvy and shrewdness to have guided Reconstruction was gone.…

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    Hamilton: The Man Who Invented America

    It would be only a slight exaggeration to say that Alexander Hamilton invented the United States of America. George Washington was the guiding star; Thomas Jefferson, the visionary; and Benjamin Franklin, the sage. But Hamilton was the pragmatist, the man who got it done. This most self-made of self-made men took a country with no past and planned its future. He was born on January 11, 1755 on the island of Nevis. This was not the Caribbean of your cruise fantasy—quite the contrary. As Ron Chernow writes in his biography of Hamilton, “While other founding fathers were reared in tidy New England villages or cosseted on baronial Virginia estates, [Hamilton]…

  • Why We’re Losing Liberty
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    Why We’re Losing Liberty

    How did the framers of the Constitution of the United States seek to preserve liberty and prevent tyranny? Pretty basic question. Here’s the answer I usually get from my students. “Well, Professor, to protect the individual and minorities against the tyranny of the majority, they added the Bill of Rights; and they gave the power to enforce those rights to the Supreme Court.” Are my students correct? The editorial boards of the New York Times or the Washington Post and many members of the U.S. Congress would say yes. Unfortunately, the answer is wrong. I say “unfortunately” because it reflects a common misunderstanding of the Constitution. And that misunderstanding has…