Applied history

July 31, 2006

Here’s a profession where history reading is a critical skill:

Robert Young writes down the measurements recorded by state-of-the-art digital equipment held by survey party chief Barry Brown.

Photo by J. G. Domke, special to Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.

Caption: Robert Young writes down the measurements recorded by state-of-the-art digital equipment held by survey party chief Barry Brown.

See excerpts of the story, about George Washington’s profession, below the fold.

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James Madison, go-to guy

July 31, 2006

School starts soon. History classes will study the founding of the United States. And especially under the topical restrictions imposed by standardized testing, many kids will get a short-form version of history that leaves out some of the most interesting stuff.

James Madison gets short shrift in the current canon, in my opinion. Madison was the fourth president, sure, and many textbooks note his role in the convention at Philadelphia that wrote the Constitution in 1787. But I think Madison’s larger career, especially his advocacy for freedom from 1776 to his death, is overlooked. Madison was the “essential man” in the founding of the nation, in many ways. He was able to collaborate with people as few others in order to get things done, including his work with George Mason on the Virginia Bill of Rights, with George Washington on the Constitution and national government structure, Thomas Jefferson on the structure and preservation of freedom, Alexander Hamilton on the Constitution and national bank, and James Monroe on continuing the American Revolution.

We need to look harder at the methods and philosophy, and life, of James Madison. This is an opinion I’ve held for a long time. Below the fold I reproduce a “sermon” I delivered to the North Texas Church of Freethought in November 2001. Read the rest of this entry »


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