Internet Explorer 11 is not supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.
Jenkinson.field

Clay S. Jenkinson

Editor-at-Large

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 cjenkinson@governing.com or on Twitter at @ClayJenkinson.

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.”
As a country, we don’t remember what happened 222 years ago, because we tend not to remember history. But also because that political storm “rolled harmlessly away.” Will we be as lucky?
The excesses of the American dream fill 50,000 storage facilities across the country. This material overflow results from crisis, indecision, laziness and selective forgetfulness.
With his unprecedented call for the termination of the U.S. Constitution, Donald Trump seems to ignore the lesson of Andrew Jackson, another aggrieved presidential aspirant who lived to fight – and win – another election.
Born of opportunities created in the aftermath of the Civil War, modern day carpetbaggers are simply opportunistic — and voters no longer seem to care anymore about unrooted candidates.
Former presidents have managed to talk their way out of trouble, even if by the skin of their teeth. There may be a lesson in that for us today.
Museums are the institutional embodiment of the historical practice that to the victor go the spoils. More recently, the return of select artifacts is intended to set things right, but it’s complicated.
Bans are an illiberal idea that undermines a long and honorable tradition of making knowledge and ideas widely available, making people free to choose what to read for themselves.