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The Heidlers Join Dr. Ben Jones to Discuss George Washington

Greetings, friends! We’re kicking off this year’s observance of American independence with a treat for us, a chance to discuss George Washington with the multitalented Ben Jones. Dr. Jones is South Dakota’s State Historian and the Director of the South Dakota State Historical Society, posts that confirm his scholarly renown. But Ben is also a splendid fellow with a ready wit and an engaging manner that make talking with him a pleasure, as we think you’ll see. Please spend some time with us, Ben, and General Washington, who was, as we all know, the most splendid fellow of all.

Celebrating Henry Clay’s Birthday

April 12th is Henry Clay’s birthday! He would have been 246 years old today, and we thought our visit with the multi-talented Mark Lempke was a compelling way to celebrate the occasion. Mark hosts a podcast called “The Also Rans” that focuses on famous, accomplished people who lost presidential elections. He had us drop in for a far-ranging conversation that shines a light on Mr. Clay and the era he helped frame. Scintillating characters such as Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, John Quincy Adams, and even Liberace also appear in the discussion. Click below to listen and be prepared for more fun than you’d have with a barrel of flamboyant pianists!

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After teaching history for many years, David and Jeanne have retired from the classroom, Jeanne most recently as Professor Emerita of History at the United States Air Force Academy. Meanwhile, their collaboration on research, writing, and editing has resulted in numerous books and articles about the early American Republic, Jacksonian America, and the Civil War. Their work includes the critically acclaimed Henry Clay: The Essential American and the award-winning Washington’s Circle: The Creation of the President.

In their most recent book The Rise of Andrew Jackson: Myth, Manipulation, and the Making of Modern Politics, they tell the story of Jackson’s quest for the presidency.

The Heidlers are represented by John Schline of Writers House Literary Agency.

Welcome to David and Jeanne’s new website!

We are launching a redesigned website that we hope you will find sleeker in appearance and faster to load and navigate. Please take a few minutes to look at the substance as well as the style of this new version of

First, nothing will change regarding the primary purpose of the site. It will remain a place for essays that recall history by striving to make places real, bring events to life, and let characters breathe. Scholarly research informs our writing, but as readers familiar with our work know, we avoid the recitation of dry, disembodied facts.  

Moreover, we believe the people of the past deserve our respect as well as our criticism. They confronted the uncertainties and moral dilemmas of life just as we do, as flawed people, not plaster saints or bronze idols. Making their way best they could, their behavior and exploits could be heroic or villainous, spiteful or compassionate, inspiring or dispiriting — for they too endured the cauldron and crucible of the human condition. We strive to tell their stories accurately. And as much as they can offer guidance for our time, we will listen to them speak in their own voices with their own words, heedless of current passions that feed mindless hatreds and fuel rampant destruction. 

We must all remember that their shadows move like ghosts among us, and to disparage their trials and ignore their triumphs is a toxic exercise. To erase the past and the people who populated it from modern memory makes us chartless mariners on stormy seas.

What’s New?

A secure site that respects your privacy and is better at protecting it

An uncluttered design that provides a less busy interface so you can concentrate on essays but still find important information

Easier access to the subscription form for emails announcing events, new posts, and other news

Better ways to interact with items on the website that include commenting on posts as well as sharing them via email and social media

And About that Social Media . . .

We are providing ways to share items through standard social media such as Facebook and Twitter because we understand the wide appeal of those services. Yet we all are aware of the problems posed by this technology, and we can attest to the fact that the issues are regrettably growing. Though these platforms began as neutral forums, they have become increasingly selective in the way they allow and convey information from users on their sites. The result has been arbitrary and sometimes odious instances of censorship. These practices ultimately discourage the free expression and exchange of ideas, and we are uncomfortable participating in them, let alone submitting to them.

For these and other reasons, we want to disengage from social media and look forward to the day when we can retire our Facebook page before Facebook one day seizes upon the idea of retiring it themselves. This will be a gradual process, but we hope you’ll join the effort by taking advantage of the alternative ways to keep informed about new posts, both by joining our email subscription list and by spreading the word through direct email with links to material you think friends and family would enjoy.

We welcome your comments on posts, as well, and will do nothing to discourage the civil expression of honest disagreement. We think all of our readers know what that means: no “screaming” with ALL CAPS rants, no obscene language, no ad hominem attacks or name-calling.

And finally. . .

We have never asked anyone to “like” posts on our Facebook page for the same reason that we have never accepted advertisers at In some form or another, doing so leads to a measure of data mining and tracking, even when you leave us to wander the web elsewhere. What you read should be your business, and the places you visit on the internet should be nobody else’s business, literally and period. We provide ways for interested readers to purchase our books, mindful that we have no control over the policies of retail websites, but we will never have advertisers. Moreover, we will never provide your email address to a business or official entity.

And that’s it! Please click around here and let us know what you think about the new design as well as the posts that appear on it. There are sure to be bugs to be squashed and the occasional broken link to repair, and we’ll be grateful for alerts about such until all is working as it should.


A Magnificent Madness

John Dickinson was unquestionably a true patriot and a great man. Yet his obstinance in the summer of 1776 first perplexed and then exasperated his fellow delegates in the Second Continental Congress. As debates reached a consensus about separation from Great Britain, and the Congress almost unanimously prepared to declare American independence, Dickinson persisted in …

Nothing But Valor

In a superficial view, the American victory at Yorktown in October 1781 marked the end of the fighting phase of the American Revolution. Actually, however, two years remained before the formal peace officially ended the war and recognized American independence. Much of South Carolina remained in British hands during that time, which was the reason …


David and Jeanne are always glad to hear from readers. Drop them a line, or if you have a general question or comment, choose that option below. They almost always respond within a day or two.