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Authors

Clay S. Jenkinson  |  Editor-at-Large

Email : cjenkinson@governing.com Twitter : @ClayJenkinson

Clay Jenkinson is the Editor-at-Large of Governing. A noted humanities scholar and historian Clay received a BA from the University of Minnesota, and an MA from Oxford where he has a Rhodes and Danforth Scholar. He is the author of twelve books, most recently Repairing Jefferson's America: A Guide to Civility and Enlightened Leadership. He has appeared in several of Ken Burns’ documentary films and is the creator of the podcast and nationally syndicated public radio program, "The Thomas Jefferson Hour," heard on many NPR stations.

Clay portrays such historical figures as Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and J. Robert Oppenheimer. He lives and works on the plains of North Dakota. He is the founder of the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University in western North Dakota, dedicated to the digitization of all of Theodore Roosevelt’s Papers.

Future in Context

America Is More Than Its Broken National Political Rhetoric

During the pandemic, a vehicle breakdown in the middle of Montana becomes a teaching moment on how a good Samaritan is seldom a person of one’s own stamp, which is the point of Luke 10: 25-37.

July 29, 2020
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Future in Context

James Earle Fraser and the Legacy of His ‘Vanishing Indian’

Who was the man who sculpted the controversial statue of Theodore Roosevelt in front of the Museum of Natural History? He was no racist, but the messages of his famous figures have become problematic.

July 22, 2020
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Future in Context

Theodore Roosevelt, His Statue and the Problem of the Past

Of all the ways the 21st century might wish to memorialize Roosevelt, that statue was the least representative of the whole man, his staggering achievement and his largely untarnished place in American memory.

July 15, 2020
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Future in Context

The Very First Fourth of July

Thomas Jefferson was not the first choice to write the Declaration of Independence. He accepted the assignment reluctantly, but he brought genius to the project, including the 35 most important words in the English language.

July 3, 2020
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The Year We Couldn’t Breathe

The act of breathing, which we take for granted, has become the focal point in how we deal with racism, the COVID-19 pandemic and the air our modern society pollutes, killing millions every year.

June 25, 2020
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Future in Context

Racism and Rights: America’s Long, Complicated History

Many of America’s founders were slaveholders yet wrote eloquently about the rights of man. To understand Jefferson, Washington and the rest, we need to see them for what they are, not for what we wish they had been.

June 17, 2020
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George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution

In his review of Lindsay Chervinsky’s ‘The Cabinet,’ Editor-at-Large Clay Jenkinson finds a well-researched, thoughtful and fascinating book that points to the strength and the weakness of the U.S. Constitution.

June 11, 2020
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The American Ethos and the Betrayal of Expertise

History provides us with numerous examples of how knowledge and, most importantly, leadership either withstood the strain of a crisis, or unraveled. We are in one of those periods right now.

June 4, 2020
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THE FUTURE OF What’s Happening Now

A Shattered Complacency: When Silence Equals Violence

The haunting images of the murder of George Floyd by a police officer have triggered widespread protests and unrest. Will it be enough to change how America, its police force and the black community live together?

June 2, 2020
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Why We Should Be Reading Albert Camus During the Pandemic

The author’s masterpiece, The Plague, will make you think, ask all sorts of Socratic questions of yourself and form resolutions about how you intend to measure your life after getting through this global catastrophe.

May 26, 2020
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Drawing Lessons from a Government Protest in North Dakota

A rally at the steps of the state capitol in Bismarck presents an important moment to revisit the unique federalist form of our republic that Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers created more than 200 years ago.

May 20, 2020
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How Jefferson and Franklin Helped End Smallpox in America

As the world eagerly awaits a vaccine for the coronavirus, 200 years ago a smallpox cure struggled to gain acceptance. This is how our founding fathers helped promote the medical breakthrough that saved countless lives.

May 1, 2020
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As the Pandemic Closes the World, the Internet Keeps It Open

Two centuries ago, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had to wait months, sometimes years, for a new book to arrive from Europe. Today, technology has removed boundaries to knowledge that would amaze our founding fathers.

April 24, 2020
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Smallpox and Indians: When Pandemic Warnings Go Unheeded

We’re at the height of this epidemic, so the collapse of the Mandan Indian Nation in North Dakota in the late 18th and early 19th centuries from outbreaks of smallpox is a reminder of how ignorance can be so deadly.

April 22, 2020
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Who’s in Charge? Coronavirus and the Tenth Amendment

As governors take leading positions on how to manage the pandemic, the nearly forgotten cornerstone of the Constitution is relevant again. It’s a reminder of how federalism and our form of government works.

April 17, 2020
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The Plague Years: A Brief History and Lessons Learned

Throughout the ages, writers and historians who have witnessed pandemics have chronicled their impact and provided us with a valuable history lesson on how not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

April 15, 2020
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The Pandemic, Captain Crozier of today's U.S.S. Roosevelt and the Rough Rider

The removal of Captain Brett E. Cozier of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt for his handling of the coronavirus evokes the sometimes-controversial career of Colonel Theodore Roosevelt.

April 6, 2020
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Future in Context

Thomas Jefferson, Epidemics and His Vision for American Cities

Jefferson's experience with the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 reinforced his dislike of cities and shaped a radical plan for the development of a new nation that even included his concept of urban design.

April 1, 2020
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Future in Context

Learning to Deal with the Coronavirus Through Literature

In uncertain times, we search for assurances. The humanities, including stories about coping with past plagues, provide a powerful reference to how things can be made right again.

March 20, 2020
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