Monday April 18, 2011

What Would the Founders Say?

History professor writes book explaining how he believes America's Founders would respond to the nation's most pressing problems.

A University of Dayton history professor says America's Founding Fathers would have some advice for Congress as it debates raising the nation's debt ceiling: Don’t even think about it.

And what would they say about Libya?

"First make the case that involvement is in America's national security interests," said Larry Schweikart, history professor and best-selling author. Then, Schweikart says, the U.S. should remove the leadership quickly, make certain its successors are not enemies of the U.S., and "inform others in the region the same fate awaits them if they ally with our enemies."

Schweikart is the author of What Would the Founders Say? A Patriot's Answers to America's Most Pressing Problems, released in March by Sentinel.

While the Founding Fathers may not have been able to anticipate the economy, technology, security threats and the various challenges of the 21st century, they still have guidance to offer.

"The principles they promoted and wrote into the Constitution help us address any one of the questions facing our country today," Schweikart said. "The Founders all believed in a weak theory of government, that it should be small in size and in its role, and that it should be governed primarily by the legislature. They also believed in personal freedom and personal responsibility."

In his book, Schweikart offers the answers he believes the Founders would give to nine questions addressing some of the top issues facing America: health care, unemployment, the environment, education, religion, bailouts, banks, the national debt, war and gun ownership.

Since the book's release, Schweikart has been interviewed on the Fox & Friends morning show, C-SPAN and on more than 30 radio stations, giving his take on what the Founders would say about current events. In addition to Libya and the national budget and debt crises, he commented on the debate over public unions.

"The Founders all believed in freedom and contracts, that an individual had a right to create contracts, even collective contracts, but they never would have supported a group that wanted to force workers to be part of a union or to take their dues for political purposes that the individual did not agree with," he said. "And as for public unions, they would have been opposed to anything that could imperil or shut down the public sector."

His research produced some surprises, such as his discovery that the Founders were all strong advocates of public school at taxpayer expense.

"However, they supported state and local funding for education, never federal, and they believed schools should teach math, grammar, religion and patriotic history, quite a bit different than today's public school advocates," he said.

Schweikart is the author of dozens of books including New York Times best-sellers A Patriot's History of the United States, which he co-authored, and Seven Events that Made America America. He is currently writing a new book called A Patriot's History of the Modern World 1898-Present, planned for a 2012 release.

In September, he released Rockin' the Wall, a feature-length documentary film about the role of rock music in ending the Cold War, and launched a film production company in Dayton that is currently at work on a dark thriller about a hit woman and a sequel to Rockin' the Wall, called Other Walls to Fall.

For more information, contact Meagan Pant, assistant director of media relations, at 937-229-3256 or mpant1@udayton.edu.