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Clay S. Jenkinson


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 was a Rhodes and Danforth Scholar. He is the author of thirteen books, most recently, The Language of Cottonwoods: Essays on the Future of North Dakota. 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.

He can be reached at or on Twitter at @ClayJenkinson.

The forgotten legacy of President Benjamin Harrison, who paved the way for Teddy Roosevelt. His tenure was marked by a mix of contributions to civil rights and conservation even while making a naked grab on Indigenous land.
Our resident humanities scholar laments that we thought we were immune to the human condition. We were wrong.
The idea of secession did not originate with Marjorie Taylor Greene. It has been tried before. The question we need to ask is whether we are really ready to see what a Red and Blue America would look and act like.
Seared in America’s collective memory and pilloried in popular culture, Jimmy Carter delivered a speech 44 years ago that chose to tell the American people the truth, rather than sing the Song of America.
From the White House tennis courts to the Camp David peace accords, along with an energy crisis and a hostage standoff, Jimmy Carter had a singular vision of how things should work.
Things that go beep beep beep in the night are generating more heat than light. They always have. But history suggests that a little panic can be a catalyst for positive public policy changes.
Tuesday’s speech was in keeping with a tradition dating back to the republic’s founding, including an increasing element of ‘bread and circuses,’ a mix of political policies and entertainment, ceremony and spectacle, in service of endless campaigning by both parties.
With Joe Biden delivering his third State of the Union address this week, our resident humanities scholar set out to make sense of the American presidency. Each president campaigned and governed to suit their respective times with a mix of shared and unique traits.
What do you do when you feel trapped by family lineage? Prince Harry of Britain chose a scorched earth approach. A century ago, a sharp-tongued daughter of American royalty known as Princess Alice blazed a different path.
America’s incoherent immigration policy is caught between the competing instincts of “give me … your huddled masses” and “build that wall.”