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About the Author

Edward John Larson (born in 1953) is an American historian and legal scholar. He is University Professor of history and holds the Hugh & Hazel Darling Chair in Law at Pepperdine University. He received the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for History for his book Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and mostrar mais America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion. The book argues that Inherit the Wind (both the play and the movie) misrepresented the actual Scopes Trial. Larson was born in Mansfield, Ohio, and attended Mansfield public schools. He graduated from Williams College and received his law degree from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in the history of science from the University of Wisconsin--Madison. In 2004, Larson received an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from The Ohio State University. He held the Fulbright Program's John Adams Chair in American Studies in 2000-2001. In 2015 his biography The Return of George Washington: 1783-1789, became listed on the New York Times bestseller list. (Bowker Author Biography) mostrar menos


Obras de Edward J. Larson

Associated Works

When Science and Christianity Meet (2003) — Contribuinte — 81 cópias


Conhecimento Comum



History of the Scopes trial, from its genesis as a collusive lawsuit designed to embarrass the old white South on behalf of the new white South to the fallout and cultural memory. We tend to think of people in the past as more credulous or single-dimensional than we are, but they weren't.
rivkat | outras 18 resenhas | Jun 7, 2024 |
Good info, but some of the lecturer's odd pronunciations were distracting.
ryner | outras 3 resenhas | Apr 10, 2024 |
The principles informing the revolutionary break of the colonies from England deeply centered around Enlightment sensibilities of liberty as a natural right inherent to all humans. The imposition of taxes on the colonies by a parliament that allowed no representation from the colonies was galling to the sentiments of American intellectual class. Governments derived their authority only through the consent of the governed, that submission to rule stems only from voluntary acceptance legitamate grants of authority. To be subjected to imposition of laws without a voice in the process was akin to enslavement. The colonists frequently used the metaphor of slavery to express their views on the violation of their natural rights in the relationship with the mother country.

For most colonists, however, this metaphor about their enslavement was blind to their own practice of slavery, so prominent an underpinning of the social and economic constructs of their polities. Every colony permitted slavery of fellow humans kidnapped from their homes and treated as property holding none of the natural rights they held as inviolable to themselves. There were chinks in the armor of this hypocrisy. Some of the leading figures would articulate the incongruity of the natural rights of man with slavery. Jefferson, notably, wrote that slavery was at odds with the concepts of liberty they were arguing was due to them. One solution he posed was, if the slaves were to be freed, they must be geographically exiled out of the presence of whites. Washington, while leading the fight for liberty never emancipated a single one of his 300 slaves, and agressively pursued his slaves who became fugitives. There was limited involvement of enslaved persons in the conflict against England, but many more took to opportunity to escape to British lines. Under the rules of war, property that was confiscated in furtherance of war aims was oblidged to be returned to its owners after peace. Slaveholders demanded the return of their slaves but the British refused and under the aegis of the British and many were relocated to Canada.

The Constitution for the newly-formed national government reveals the cognitive dissonance that stoked the fires on slavery that grew for decades to follow. Since represention in Congress was to be based (in part) on population would enslaved people be counted? Some held that since they were considered property why should they count any more than cattle or horses? Others said they should be counted but reasoned that since their labor was less productive than whites their numbers should be discounted, resulting in the 3/5 rule in determing political representation. The framers, particularly Madison, were careful not to use the word "slavery" anywhere in the Constitution, referring to "persons" bound to service. The Atlantic slave trade was to be banned after a decade, this in order to allow the growing colonies to catch up with their richer neighbor states. (Interestingly, support for the ban on Atlantic slave trade in the richer southern states was linked to the risk of decreasing the value of their slaves by flooding the market with new arrivals.) The Constitution contains an express provision to enable the pursuit of fugitive slaves, culminating decades later in the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 which was a tipping point toward greater sectional discord.

Lurking in the background was whether slavery could exist in newly formed territories and states as the country expanded westward. The Somerset judicial ruling in England posited that slavery, being inimical to natural human rights, could only exist where positive laws allowed it. The issue that would grow over the upcoming decades was who had authority to devise and implement such "positive" law. Since the national government controlled the territories was this the national legislature's call? Or, could the people residing in the territories decide which way to go? Whether or how slavery might be introduced in territories newly formed states turned out to be a major factor in the dissolution of the union.

Against this backdrop of ambivalence about slavery in the new nation, there were trends emerging that would increase the divisions between the northern and southern states. Slavery was waning in the north with states implementing emancipation plans. The rise of views on the immorality of slavery began to emerge in the 1820's in the morally fervant abolition movement.

The question of whether the Constitution supported slavery is not completely clear; it certainly, at least, tolerated it. The uneasiness on the perpetuation of slavery would percolate over the ensuing decades until a full boil in 1860.
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stevesmits | Jan 11, 2024 |
Larson has a solid reputation as an author of a number of historical nonfiction books. He crams in so much detail that it read too much like a classroom history book for my tastes. He did relate a great deal that I did not know even though I studied American History in college.

Washington and Franklin began their working partnership during the French and Indian War, Washington as a military leader from Virginia and Franklin both as political and military leader from Pennsylvania. Throughout their thirty years as colleagues and friends, Franklin supported Washington's military leadership with his wit, his newspaper, and his skills as a diplomat with broad connections.

The Continental Congress had little to no power whatsoever. Each state maintained its soverignty and refused to supply the funds needed to support the Continental Army. Consequently, there was a great deal of unrest and anger among the officers and troops during and after the war for lack of pay. Shay's Rebellion was a response to this failure to act. Without Franklin's ability to enlist France's financial support, the Revolution was doomed to failure.

There were two important and distinct differences between Franklin and Washington, both of which created conflict during the writing of the Constitution. Franklin was an abolitionist and Washington a slave holder, a prime issue in the writing of the Consitution. Franklin was also opposed to a powerful executive branch and supported a triumvirate approach like the Romans. Washington would not even consider such a possibility. Inspite of their difference, these two came together to win their people's freedom and to create the foundation of the American way of government and life.
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cfk | outras 2 resenhas | Jul 22, 2023 |



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