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A Morning of History with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

October 19, 2019 9:30 AM – 1:15 PM

schedule

9:30 AM - 10:35 AM
From Washington to Lincoln: The Presidency Emerges

Louis Masur / Rutgers University

After the Revolution, Americans mistrusted executive power. They had rejected monarchical authority and had no intention of replacing it; the Articles of Confederation made no provision for an executive branch. When George Washington became president, politicians debated what to call him. Thomas Jefferson best expressed the anxiety over a centralized executive when he declared, "that government is best which governs least."
 
But over time, the Presidency became more powerful, so much so that Abraham Lincoln employed executive authority in unprecedented ways to help win the Civil War. In this presentation, we will trace the transformation of the Presidency from Washington to Lincoln and discuss how certain modern features of the office first emerged.

Louis Masur / Rutgers University
Louis Masur is a Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. He received outstanding teaching awards from Rutgers, Trinity College, and the City College of New York, and won the Clive Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Harvard University. He is the author of many books including "Lincoln's Last Speech," which was inspired by a talk he presented at One Day University. His essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, and Chicago Tribune. He is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and serves on the Historians' Council of the Gettysburg Foundation.

10:50 AM - 11:55 AM
World War I: What Really Happened, and Why it Matters

Jennifer Keene / Chapman University

Most Americans possess only a hazy understanding of World War I or its significance for the United States. So why not leave it there? Why bother with this history lesson? How the nation responded to the challenge of fighting its first modern war re-made America, leading to female suffrage, the modern civil rights movement, the drive to protect civil liberties, new conceptions of military service, and an expanded role for the United States in the world.

There are striking parallels between the problems Americans faced a hundred years ago in 1917-18 and the challenges we face now. How do we balance protecting national security with civil liberties? Is it appropriate for Americans to continue to debate a war once the fighting has begun? Are immigrants importing terrorism? Do Americans have a responsibility to participate in global humanitarianism? Can soldiers ever convey to those at home the reality of what they've encountered on the battlefield? Can they ever leave the war behind? Americans grappled with these issues in World War I, and these are once again relevant questions for a society at war.

Jennifer Keene / Chapman University
Jennifer Keene is a professor of history and dean of the Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Chapman University. She has published several books and numerous articles on the American experience in the world wars, including "Doughboys, the Great War and the Remaking of America", "World War I: The American Soldier Experience", and "World War II: Core Documents". She has received numerous awards for her scholarship, including Fulbright Senior Scholar Awards to France and Australia and Mellon Library of Congress Fellowship in International Studies. She has served as a historical consultant for exhibits and films, and was recently featured in the PBS documentary mini-series, "The Great War".

12:10 PM - 1:15 PM
FDR: The Making of the American Century

Jeremi Suri / University of Texas

This lecture will examine the transformational presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. How did this scion of America’s elite inspire hope in millions of suffering citizens during the Great Depression? How did he re-design the purposes and expectations of American government through the New Deal?

The lecture will show how domestic policy was connected to foreign policy, particularly President Roosevelt’s successful efforts to defeat fascism and re-make the international order. The lecture will investigate President Roosevelt’s ideas, his leadership style, and his legacies for contemporary American domestic and foreign policy.

Jeremi Suri / University of Texas
Jeremi Suri holds the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a professor in the University's Department of History and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Professor Suri is the author and editor of nine books on contemporary politics and foreign policy, most recently: "The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America's Office." His research and teaching have received numerous prizes. In 2007 Smithsonian Magazine named him one of America's "Top Young Innovators" in the Arts and Sciences. In 2018 Suri received the President's Associates Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas, and the Pro Bene Meritis Award for Public Contributions to the Liberal Arts.

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