Mt. Holyoke’s Pulitzer-Winning Prof. Joseph Ellis on John Adams & American Independence

This Fourth of July week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Dr. Joseph Ellis, Professor Emeritus of History at Mount Holyoke College and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. They discuss the resurgence of public interest in the Revolutionary and Founding generations due, in part, to his book, Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams. Known as the “Atlas of American Independence,” John Adams was perhaps the best educated among the Founding generation. Ellis describes his deep knowledge of classical liberal arts and Enlightenment subjects, including ancient history, political philosophy, and the law, and how it equipped him for intellectual and political leadership. They review Adams’ key experiences and character traits, as the major author of the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution, which served as a model for the U.S. Constitution; his ardent opposition to slavery; and his critical eye for spotting political talent. Lastly, they explore the relationship between Adams and his beloved, talented wife, Abigail; as well as their gifted son, John Quincy Adams, the sixth U.S. President; and the family’s remarkable dedication to public service. Prof. Ellis concludes the interview with a reading about John Adams and American Independence.

Stories of the Week: In Mississippi, public K-12 students have made greater gains than in any other state, becoming a national model for both practitioners and policymakers alike, as a result of specific reforms implemented by State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright. At least 12 states are relaxing teacher certification rules, including licensure, to address the labor shortage.

The next episode will air on Weds., July 13th, with Jean Strouse, author of the award-winning biography of J.P. Morgan, Morgan: American Financier.

Guest:

Joseph Ellis is Professor Emeritus of History at Mount Holyoke College and among the nation’s leading scholars of American history. The author of eleven books, Ellis was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation and won the National Book Award for American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson. His in-depth chronicle of the life of our first President, His Excellency: George Washington, was a New York Times bestseller. Ellis’ most recent book, The Cause: The American Revolution and Its Discontents, was published in Fall 2021. Professor Ellis’ essays and book reviews appear regularly in national publications, such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The New Republic, and The New Yorker. Ellis’ commentaries have been featured on CBS, C-SPAN, CNN, and PBS’s The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and he has appeared in several PBS documentaries on early America, including John and Abigail [Adams] for PBS’s The American Experience and a History Channel documentary on George Washington. He received his A.B. from the College of William and Mary, and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University.

Tweet of the Week:

News Links:

States Relax Teacher Certification Rules to Combat Shortages

https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/states-relax-teacher-certification-rules-to-combat-shortages/2022/06

“How’d You Do It?” Mississippi’s Superintendent of Education Explains State’s Learning Gains

https://www.educationnext.org/howd-you-do-it-mississippis-superintendent-of-education-explains-states-learning-gains/

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