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  • Originally published 07/28/2013

    Jon Meacham in residence at Vanderbilt this fall

    Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham will be a dynamic presence at Vanderbilt University during the fall 2013 semester, teaching a political science course and leading two events open to the general public.“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of the vibrant Vanderbilt world,” said Meacham. “The university seems to be in a kind of golden age–at once culturally exciting and intellectually exacting.”Meacham, executive editor and executive vice president at Random House, was awarded the Pulitzer for American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. His most recent book, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller and made many critics’ “best of the year” lists. Meacham is a contributing editor to Time and a former editor of Newsweek. A fellow of the Society of American Historians, he is a trustee of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, chairs the National Advisory Board of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University, and is a scholar-trustee of the New-York Historical Society....

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    James P. Byrd: Was the American Revolution a Holy War?

    James P. Byrd is an associate dean at Vanderbilt University and the author of “Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution.” Holy war can seem like something that happened long ago or that happens far away — the Crusades of medieval Europe, for example, or jihadists fighting secular forces today. But since their country’s founding, Americans have often thought of their wars as sacred, even when the primary objectives have been political.This began with the American Revolution. When colonists declared their independence on July 4, 1776, religious conviction inspired them. Because they believed that their cause had divine support, many patriots’ ardor was both political and religious. They saw the conflict as a just, secular war, but they fought it with religious resolve, believing that God endorsed the cause. As Connecticut minister Samuel Sherwood preached in 1776: “God Almighty, with all the powers of heaven, are on our side. Great numbers of angels, no doubt, are encamping round our coast, for our defense and protection.”

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