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Articles on Thomas Jefferson

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Two political conservatives, Greg Jacob, former counsel to Vice President Mike Pence, and Michael Luttig, a retired judge who was an adviser to Pence, testified to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack . AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Jan. 6 committee hearings show what went right, not just what went wrong

Coverage of the House Jan. 6 hearings focuses on what went wrong that led up to Trump supporters’ laying siege to the US Capitol. A government scholar looks at what went right, both then and now.
Reconstructed slave cabins at James Madison’s Montpelier in Virginia. Stephen P. Hanna

Modern-day struggle at James Madison’s plantation Montpelier to include the descendants’ voices of the enslaved

Once owned by James Madison, the Montpelier plantation remains a model for presenting a full depiction of the life of the former president as well as the lives of those he enslaved.
Protesters used violence and intimidation to prevent federal officials from collecting a whiskey tax during George Washington’s presidency. Archive Photos/Getty Images

Political rage: America survived a decade of anger in the 18th century – but can it now?

Like today, passions were strong and political discourse was inflamed in late 18th-century America. Angry mobs torched buildings. Virginians drank a toast to George Washington’s speedy death.
A painting depicting Francis Scott Key aboard the British ship HMS Tonnant viewing Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore on Sept. 14, 1814. Ed Vebell/Getty Images

Francis Scott Key: One of the anti-slavery movement’s great villains

Few people embody the contradictions of U.S. history like the author of the Star Spangled Banner, someone who denounced slavery as a moral wrong but rejected racial equality.
The founders believed education was crucial to democracy. Here, a one-room schoolhouse in Breathitt County, Ky. Photograph by Marion Post Wolcott/Library of Congress

America’s founders believed civic education and historical knowledge would prevent tyranny – and foster democracy

Democracies degenerate because of cunning leaders. Democracies also crumble because of the people themselves – and the US founders believed education would be crucial to maintaining democracy.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, standing at center and facing left just above the eagle, takes the presidential oath of office for the third time in 1941. FDR Presidential Library and Museum via Flickr

Has any US president ever served more than eight years?

Only one president has done so – Franklin Delano Roosevelt – but others considered it, and even tried.
Both Andrew Jackson, left, and Donald Trump presented themselves as men of the people. Jackson, Library of Congress; Trump, Drew Angerer/Getty Images

All American presidents have made spectacles of themselves – and there’s nothing wrong with that

A president’s persona is always a public act. In that way, Trump’s shtick – vulgar man of the people – was not exceptional. And every president has had to invent his version of the role.
A 1975 stamp printed in St. Vincent shows U.S. presidents George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who were all vocally pro-inoculation and vaccination. (Shutterstock)

The U.S. Founding Fathers would want us to get the COVID-19 vaccine

In the early years of the United States, several American presidents were in favour of public health inoculation and vaccination strategies.
Republican nominee Gov. Mike Pence and Democratic nominee Sen. Tim Kaine stand after the vice-presidential debate in Farmville, Va., Oct. 4, 2016. Joe Raedle/Pool via AP

A brief history of presidents snubbing their successors – and why the founders favored civility instead

‘Mind your manners’ isn’t just something your mother told you. Manners – and civility – are an essential component of how things get done in government, and the Founding Fathers knew it.
Voters mark their ballots at a church in Stamford, Conn. AP Photo/Jessica Hill

Is democracy sacred?

A theologian argues, based on the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, that a political institution has its limits when it comes to being called ‘sacred.’
Trump falsely declaring a win in the early hours of Nov. 4, 2020, the day after the US election, as ballot counting continued in Pennsylvania and other battleground states. Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

History tells us that a contested election won’t destroy American democracy

Five of the six disputed presidential elections in US history were resolved and the country moved on – but one ended in civil war. What will happen if the 2020 election is contested?
A transcript from the Constitutional Convention records the official report creating the Electoral College. U.S. National Archives

Who invented the Electoral College?

Three approaches were debated during the Constitutional Convention – election by Congress, selection by state legislatures and a popular election, though that was restricted to white landowning men.

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