A JMC Webinar: Wilfred McClay & Lucas Morel on “1619 vs. 1776: Why Was America Founded?”

The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton January 3, 1777 (John Trumbull)

JMC Webinar: Wilfred McClay & Lucas  Morel on “1619 vs. 1776: Why Was America Founded?”


On October 1, 2020, Lucas Morel and Wilfred McClay (whose recent Land of Hope serves as the basis of the 1776 Commission’s curricular design) joined us for a virtual conversation on the role of slavery in America’s Founding, the 1619 Project, and the establishment of the principles of liberty and equality in our nation’s origin.

In August 2019, the New York Times launched its 1619 Project, an alternative history of the United States that explicitly foregrounded slavery and its consequences in the American story (and, in an earlier version, explicitly named the year 1619 as our “true founding”). The series went on to receive a great deal of acclaim, as well as criticism from sources as diverse as the World Socialist Web Site and National Review. Most recently, President Trump announced a 1776 Commission to promote civic education in the United States in direct response to the New York Times project.

Questions on the topic were encouraged.



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 >>



Lucas Morel headshotLucas 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. His research interests include Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Ralph Ellison. Professor Morel is former president of the Abraham Lincoln Institute, a consultant on Library of Congress exhibits on Lincoln and the Civil War, and currently serves on the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, which will plan activities to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States of America. He is the author/editor of several books, most recently authoring Lincoln and the American Founding (2020). Additionally, Professor Morel teaches in the Master’s Program in American History and Government at Ashland University in  Ohio, summer programs for the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, and high school teacher workshops sponsored by the Gilder-Lehrman Institute, the John M. Ashbrook Center, the Jack Miller Center, and the Liberty Fund.

Learn more about Lucas E. Morel >>



Thomas Cleveland joined the Jack Miller Center 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.

Learn more about Thomas Cleveland >>



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 tradition!



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