American Enterprise Institute: “How Our History Can Unify Us”

Dorothea Lange, Pledge of Allegiance, 1940s San Francisco

American Enterprise Institute: “How Our History Can Unify Us: A Conversation with Danielle Allen and Wilfred McClay”


On November 24, 2020, the American Enterprise Institute will be holding a virtual conversation with Danielle Allen and JMC board member Wilfred McClay. Faculty partner Robert George will moderate.

Two strains of historical interpretation are competing for the American imagination. One argues that because the United States was corrupted at its inception by bigotry, its foundational political institutions must be made anew. The other argument seeks to minimize America’s failings in hopes of reversing declining levels of patriotism nationwide.

Harvard political theorist Danielle Allen and University of Oklahoma historian Wilfred McClay will consider whether there are better, fuller ways to learn from our history and if it might be possible to strengthen our commitment to preserving America’s founding principles while accounting for injustices past and present.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020, 1:00 PM, EST
A virtual discussion

Click here to register and learn more >>



Danielle Allen is the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, is a political theorist who has published broadly in democratic theory, political sociology, and the history of political thought. Widely known for her work on justice and citizenship in both ancient Athens and modern America, Allen is the author of The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (2000), Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown vs. the Board of Education (2004), Why Plato Wrote (2010), Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality (2014), Education and Equality (2016), and Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. (2017). She is a former Chair of the Mellon Foundation Board, past Chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

Learn more about Danielle Allen >>



Wilfred McClay is the G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma. His research interests focus on the intellectual and cultural history of the United States, with particular attention to the social and political thought of the 19th and 20th centuries, the history of American religious thought and institutions, and the theory and practice of biographical writing. A recipient of many teaching awards and honors, he has been the recipient of fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Academy of Education.

Professor McClay previously served on the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board for the National Endowment for the Humanities. His book, The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America, won the 1995 Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians for the best book in American intellectual history. Besides Land of Hope, he is the author of The Student’s Guide to U.S. History, and co-editor of Religion Returns to the Public Square: Faith and Policy in America and Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Public Life in Modern America.

Professor McClay is a JMC board member.

Learn more about Wilfred McClay >>



The American Enterprise Institute is a public policy think tank dedicated to defending human dignity, expanding human potential, and building a freer and safer world. Its scholars and staff seek to advance ideas rooted in democracy, free enterprise, American strength and global leadership, solidarity with those at the periphery of society, and a pluralistic, entrepreneurial culture.

Learn more about the American Enterprise Institute >>



Facebook iconTwitter iconFollow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates about lectures, publications, podcasts, and events related to American political thought, United States history, and the Western political tradition!



Want to help the Jack Miller Center transform higher education? Donate today.