You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Schools

  • Parents urged to apply for textbook aid
    Fort Wayne Community Schools officials are urging all parents to fill out their free textbook applications, which are lagging behind this year.
  • Pence won't reconsider seeking US preschool grant
    INDIANAPOLIS - Education advocates pressured GOP Gov. Mike Pence on Tuesday to reconsider seeking a federal preschool grant, but the governor rejected calls to apply for up to $80 million in funding.
  • How will pre-K be financed?
    Allen County officials say they are waiting to see where future funding will come from for statewide prekindergarten now that Gov. Mike Pence has withdrawn an application for $80 million in federal funds.
Advertisement
Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
America's political past holds lessons for its leaders of today, says historian and author Jon Meacham. He spoke to history and political science students at IPFW on Wednesday afternoon before his Omnibus lecture.

Political lessons from way back

Omnibus lecturer focuses on history

– Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Jon Meacham drew a crowd of about 1,200 during a lecture Wednesday that focused on how today's politicians can learn from past leaders.

"What can we learn from Thomas Jefferson and his generation's struggles with divisive government and transformational change? … What we learn from the past can take us into the future," he said.

Meacham was the third speaker in this year's Omnibus Lecture Series, which is held in the Rhinehart Music Center at IPFW.

Meacham won a Pulitzer for his 2009 work "American Lion," about President Andrew Jackson and his White House circle. He is also a former editor of Newsweek and executive vice president and executive editor at Random House Publishing.

Earlier in the day, Meacham visited a 30-student American history class at IPFW, where the discussion shifted based on student questions.

They covered Jefferson's politics, analysis of election results, and the future of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, based on Tuesday night's successful referendums in Washington and Colorado.

"Are you asking this out of hope?" Meacham asked the student who posed the question about the marijuana idea spreading to other states and the federal government.

Some of the discussion in the classroom session was echoed in Meacham's lecture Wednesday night

He began the lecture with remarks on Tuesday's election results, saying he was surprised that the difference in popular vote for the two presidential candidates wasn't smaller. He said that for elections in recent decades, a close popular vote is the norm.

Meacham said there are lessons to be learned from the partisanship of Jefferson's time.

"His era has an enormous amount to say to us," he said. "Jefferson understood partisanship is intrinsic to public life."

He warned that drawing exact parallels from the past can be tricky, but he said Jefferson and other leaders since have understood the "politics of personal touch."

He cited a more recent example of George H.W. Bush inviting members of Congress to the White House to take a photo of them in the Abraham Lincoln room.

Great leaders have succeeded when they master the partisan world, something he said President Obama hasn't done to the extent that he can bring the two opposing parties to compromise during his presidency.

Meacham offered interesting anecdotes about past presidents, comparing Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton in Cabinet meetings to two roosters fighting constantly, while also giving advice from past leaders, including encouragement for Obama to take more risks during his second term.

"Be daring regardless… because time is always short," he said.

sarah.janssen@jg.net

Advertisement