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Clay S. Jenkinson


Clay S. Jenkinson is a historian and humanities scholar based in North Dakota. He is founder of both the Theodore Roosevelt Center and Listening to America.

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.

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

Putting the First Amendment, national security and America’s most (in)famous leakers — Daniel Ellsberg, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning — in context.
First appearing in leading newspapers more than a half-century ago, the leaked documents became the 47-volume Pentagon Papers. The handling of secret documents attract headlines and larger-than-life figures then and now.
Our resident humanities scholar reflects on a nation fundamentally divided, again.
Sober reflections for presidential aspirants.
Perhaps best remembered for the dam and institute named for him, the 31st president was known as a great humanitarian but had a low view of the role of government in improving people's lives.
The hands of the Doomsday Clock now stand at 90 seconds to midnight — the closest to global nuclear catastrophe it has ever been. Against that backdrop, the United States still struggles with its own nuclear history.
The origins of the sixth president’s pathetic quest for greatness and his sacrifice of happiness during a lifetime of service.
The public expects better from the highest court in the land and has lost trust in the judicial branch as much as the others. Our resident humanities scholar asks, who will save us from our guardians?
America’s intervention in the Russo-Japanese War a century ago cast Theodore Roosevelt as an unlikely but ultimately successful diplomat. Teddy would be surprised to see who is leading the diplomatic offensive this time.
The fifth president is best known for the doctrine named for him that helped keep European powers from further meddling in the New World. And given the political environment today, you would be excused for being envious of his Era of Good Feeling.