Video: George H. Nash on America's Founding Generation


Andy Nash speaks with historian George H. Nash on the Constitution and American identity for a special Independence Day-themed episode. Dr. Nash highlights the role of Rev. John Witherspoon and how he used a “moral philosophy” curriculum to inspire the founding generation. 


Key Take-Aways

  • 2:02 – Moral Philosophy in the curriculum of colonial America. (4 mins)
  • 7:14 – History taught moral lessons of prudence/conduct. (1 min)
  • 9:48 – Is classical higher ed possible today? (3 mins)
  • 11:15 – A typical day in the life of a colonial student (2 mins)
  • 14:03 – The role of church attendance in academics (30 secs)
  • 14:48 – Are we too diverse today for classical higher ed? (1 min)


Andy’s Show Notes

Historian and writer George Nash chronicles what American universities such as Princeton were like in the mid-to-late 18th century.  Based on a talk he gave at this Summer’s Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s conference at PrincetonUniversity focusing on the Constitution and American Identity, George Nash highlighted the role of the Rev. John Witherspoon and how he transformed a “moral philosophy” curriculum that influenced and inspired our founding generation.

We delve into what this classical education was like, how it worked, and how it was effectual in developing virtuous and moral statesman of the day.  The classical education of the day was not a crash course in sedition or political activism for Revolutionary America.  Much the opposite.

It was an essential moral, spiritual, and intellectual development of future leaders that were able to capture and articulate the ideas, ideals, and spirit of a nation that found its very identity and soul in the pursuit of liberty and self governance.

In the spirit of ISI‘s mission, to “educate for liberty”, we take a look this week of the 4th of July at the crucial role such a highly rigorous, robust, and solid classical education played in the founding of our nation, with Dr. George Nash on Inside Academia.

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