Joseph J.

Stories by Joseph J. Ellis

  • 071013-Ellis-nm0925-Edmund S Morgan-tease

    Finding the Story

    Author Joseph J. Ellis pays tribute to a remarkable historian and teacher.
    European Edition Version

    During the last presidential election, I was on the road promoting my book about America's founding generation. Lots of folks wanted to know why, in 2000, they had to choose between George W. Bush and Al Gore, when 200 years earlier they got to choose between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. It was really a prejudicial question, designed to dramatize the gap between political leadership then and now. Let's call it the "founders' gap" (i.e., can you imagine Bush or Gore on Mount Rushmore?). I rather shamefully played to the prejudice, quoting Henry Adams to the effect that, if you look at the American presidency panoramically, you've got to conclude that Darwin got it exactly backward.As the presidential election of 2004 looms, let me try to make amends by reassuring both candidates that all the Founding Fathers, before they were marbleized and mythologized, were considered fallible and controversial figures. The president of Yale, for example, threatened to revoke the degree of any...