JMC Webinar: “Lincoln, the Founders, and an America Worth Saving” with Lucas Morel
How can our knowledge of Lincoln and the founders help us in this age of political polarization? On March 30, 2021, JMC held a discussion on the topic with political theorist and Lincoln expert, Lucas E. Morel (Washington and Lee University).
In the 1850s, the United States experienced a political polarization even worse than what Americans now experience, but one that many believe is starting to look like the closest historical precedent for the challenges we face today. To help the nation navigate its growing division, one that centered on the future of slavery in the United States, Lincoln looked to the noblest ideals and practices of the American founding. He found those ideals in the Declaration of Independence. Its self-evident truths regarding human equality, individual rights, and government by consent were the foundation of self-government, and inspired the political mechanisms and operation of “a more perfect union” under the U.S. Constitution. Lincoln believed that only by returning to the original intentions of the Founders could Americans recover their unified purpose as a free people. He became the greatest defender of the Founders not merely because he fought successfully to preserve the American union, but also because he explained why America was worth preserving.
JMC’s Director of Academic Programs, Tom Cleveland, acted as moderator.
Lucas E. Morel is the John K. Boardman, Jr. Professor of Politics and Head of the Politics Department at Washington and Lee University. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Claremont Graduate University. Professor Morel also teaches in the Master’s Program in American History and Government at Ashland University in Ohio; lectures in summer programs for the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy; and conducts high school teacher workshops for the Jack Miller Center, Gilder-Lehrman Institute, John M. Ashbrook Center, Bill of Rights Institute, and Liberty Fund.
In June 2020, Professor Morel published Lincoln and the American Founding for the Concise Lincoln Library Series of Southern Illinois University Press. Other publications include Lincoln’s Sacred Effort: Defining Religion’s Role in American Self-Government; Lincoln and Liberty: Wisdom for the Ages; Ralph Ellison and the Raft of Hope: A Political Companion to Invisible Man; and The New Territory: Ralph Ellison and the Twenty-First Century.
Professor Morel is a trustee of the Supreme Court Historical Society; former president of the Abraham Lincoln Institute; a consultant on the Library of Congress exhibits on Lincoln and the Civil War; and was a member of the scholarly board of advisors for the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. He also currently serves on the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, which will plan activities to commemorate the founding of the United States of America.
Professor Morel is a JMC faculty partner.
Thomas Cleveland joined the Jack Miller Center in August 2019 as Academic Programs Officer. He received his B.A. from St. John’s College in Annapolis, where he studied the history of science, math, and philosophy. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Boston College in 2016 with a dissertation on Plato’s accounts of the origins of political life in the Laws. Before joining the Jack Miller Center he was a postdoctoral fellow with the Program on Constitutional Government at Harvard University and taught political theory and American politics at Miami University of Ohio and the College of the Holy Cross.
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