Nancy Reagan, the GOP, and Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence

Jefferson 107: the Original Draft of the Declaration of Independence

Rough draft from the Library of Congress.

Rough draft from the Library of Congress.

We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable...
— Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence

This week on The Thomas Jefferson Hour, the semi-permanent guest host David Swenson and I discuss Jefferson’s original text of the Declaration of Independence. It's part of our 20-episode out of character biography of Thomas Jefferson. Stay tuned as we work our way through the life of one of America's greatest individuals.


On the Death of Nancy Reagan

Whatever one thinks of the politics of the Reagans, they had class. They brought decorum to all that they did. They took themselves seriously because they took America seriously. President Reagan understood Jefferson's principle that to be president of the United States you have to sing the Song of America. How appalled Reagan would be by the antics of the 2016 Republican candidates for president.

To read my short essay on the legacy of Nancy Reagan, click here.


The Republican Establishment - Beware What You Ask For

I’ve been watching with great amusement the Republican establishment’s attempts to stop Donald Trump from winning the nomination. Something very similar happened in 1912, when former President Theodore challenged the incumbent, his former friend William Howard Taft for the Republican nomination. it is never a good idea to thwart the will of the people. Are you listening (or reading your history) Republican establishment?

Read more here.


Latest News on the New Theodore Roosevelt National Presidential Library in North Dakota

You may know that we are building a magnificent national Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in Dickinson, North Dakota. Our design committee met out on the Oregon coast last weekend to discuss the stories we want to tell at the TR National Presidential Library and Museum. The weekend ended with a propitious sign tossed up by the Pacific Ocean. Read more here.

For more information on this exciting project, visit the Theodore Roosevelt Center.


Buffalo Bill Cody and the Invention of the West

Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 3 pm CST

Conversations at Bismarck State College occur five times per academic year, led by BSC President Larry Skogen and humanities scholar Clay S. Jenkinson.

This Sunday, March 13, President Skogen and I will explore the life and achievement of Buffalo Bill Cody, his relations with American Indians, and the way in which he depicted Indians in his shows both in the United States and Europe. We will base our conversations on Cody's autobiography (1920), and Louis S. Warren's Buffalo Bill's America: William Cody and the Wild West Show.

Our discussion will try to make sense of what has been called the "inauthentic authenticity" of Buffalo Bill's life and career. What was it about America in the 1880s and 90s that packed his arenas with audiences hungry to make sense of our frontier history? To what extent did Cody "represent" frontier history and to what extent did he "invent" it?

Later this spring (BSCtalk.org) we will explore North Dakota's Dust Bowl Years, and George Armstrong Custer's 1874 reconnaissance of the Black Hills.

You can watch live online. For information and the live stream link at 3 pm CST on Sunday, click here.


Thanks to my friend Robin for the photo from last summer's trip. 

Thanks to my friend Robin for the photo from last summer's trip. 

Lewis & Clark Summer Tour in Montana

July 17-26, 2016

Every summer I lead 20-30 individuals through the White Cliffs section of the Missouri River in Montana, and then up on the Lolo Trail in Idaho west of Missoula. We follow precisely in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark. It's the highlight of my travel year. If you listen to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, you have heard of the infamous "Wendover Death March." For many, this is a life-changing adventure.

Jefferson would have loved to go on this journey, if he could have brought a keel-boat of wine, another of books, writing instruments, scientific devices--and Madison to do the heavy lifting!. Space is limited, reserve your spot here