Dr. Edward Larson, a prolific author, respected voice of authority on American history, and frequent guest on television shows such as The Today Show and History Channel programs, will speak at The University of Tennessee Space Institute later this month. Dr. Larson will be giving the 12th annual Thomas Jefferson Lecture, a lecture series held at UTSI that has honored Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and one of our country’s most influential Founding Fathers, for the past 12 years. This year’s lecture, entitled “1800 and the Emergence of Modern American Politics,” is scheduled for 3 p.m. on April 28, 2008 and should be a lively event as Professor Larson will offer insight into the ongoing election by examining the election of 1800.
Dr. Larson won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1998 for his book, Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion. Dr. Larson has authored seven books and is the co-author of seven more. In his 2007 book, A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election Of 1800, America’s First Presidential Campaign, he examines the 1800 presidential election when Thomas Jefferson, representing democracy and science, faced sitting Federalist president John Adams. In a recent interview for The Paula Gordon Show, Dr. Larson said, “Going to the polls in 2008, citizens of the United States have a lot to learn from the election of 1800. Even then, religion and science were very much at odds.” In his “Independent Thinker” Book of the Month Review, New York Times bestselling author Thom Hartmann said of A Magnificent Catastrophe, “it deserves to bring Larson a second Pulitzer.”
About Jefferson’s 1801 inauguration, Larson wrote in A Magnificent Catastrophe, “Before taking the oath of office, however, in a shy, small voice all but lost in the ornate, crowded Senate chamber, Jefferson gave the greatest speech of his political career. He beautifully crafted it to claim the middle ground after the bitter, divisive campaign.”
Dr. Larson earned his B.A. from Williams College, a law degree from Harvard, and a Ph.D. in the History of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to being a Professor of History at Pepperdine University, he is currently the Hugh and Hazel Darling Chair of Law at Pepperdine and the Russell Professor of History at the University of Georgia. He has made appearances on The Today Show, Booknotes, Nova, PBS News Hour, Fox Network, Odyssey Network, Showtime Network, and Court-TV and makes regular appearances on NPR, BBC, CBC, The History Channel, and C-Span. His articles have appeared in such varied journals as Nature, Scientific American, Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, Wall Street Journal, Virginia Law Review, Christianity Today, Christian Century, Journal of the History of Medicine and British Journal for the History of Science.
In coordination with this year’s lecture, students from area high schools, including Coffee County, Franklin County, Huntland and Tullahoma High Schools, have been writing essays about “The Election of 1800” for the 2008 Thomas Jefferson Essay Contest. The student with the winning essay at each school will receive a $150 prize and will read their essay aloud at UTSI on April 16 before a panel of judges. The overall winner will be announced as part of the lecture program and will receive a $300 prize. In addition, $500 will be awarded to the school of the overall winner for academic program development within the school.
The 12th Annual Thomas Jefferson Lecture will begin at 3 p.m. on Monday, April 28, 2008 in the UTSI Auditorium with a reception to follow in the lobby. This event is free and open to the public and all are encouraged to come and hear one of the world’s greatest American historians.