John Witherspoon and the Founding of the American Republic
Catholicism in American Culture
240 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Paperback | 9780268035082 | January 2003
Hardcover | 9780268034856 | June 2005
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268087227 | January 2003
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268086770 | January 2003
Jeffry H. Morrison offers readers the first comprehensive look at the political thought and career of John Witherspoon—a Scottish Presbyterian minister and one of America’s most influential and overlooked founding fathers. Witherspoon was an active member of the Continental Congress and was the only clergyman both to sign the Declaration of Independence and to ratify the federal Constitution. During his tenure as president of the College of New Jersey at Princeton, Witherspoon became a mentor to James Madison and influenced many leaders and thinkers of the founding period. He was uniquely positioned at the crossroads of politics, religion, and education during the crucial first decades of the new republic.
Morrison locates Witherspoon in the context of early American political thought and charts the various influences on his thinking. This impressive work of scholarship offers a broad treatment of Witherspoon’s constitutionalism, including his contributions to the mediating institutions of religion and education, and to political institutions from the colonial through the early federal periods. This book will be appreciated by anyone with an interest in American political history and thought and in the relation of religion to American politics.
Jeffry H. Morrison is associate professor of government at Regent University and a faculty member at the federal government’s James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation in Washington, D.C. He is co-editor of The Founders on God and Government.
"Jeffry Morrison's fine intellectual biography of the man—and the first extended study of Witherspoon's political thought ever written. . . . Morrison focuses his attention upon Witherspoon's thinking, especially his political thought, so much of it rooted in his Presbyterian convictions.... Morrison makes a strong, and entirely convincing, case for Witherspoon's neglected importance." —The Weekly Standard
"Jeffry Morrison's brief, excellent new book, John Witherspoon and the Founding of the American Republic, both testifies to and partly redresses the neglect Witherspoon has suffered. Witherspoon was a formidable intellectual and political leader whose role in the affairs of colonial and early republican America deserves wider recognition." —The New Criterion
"... engaging and enthusiastic study of John Witherspoon.... Morrison deserves much commendation for his efforts." —Perspectives on Politics
"It is strange but true that scholars have had to wait so long for an adequate study of John Witherspoon's place in the American founding, especially given the breadth of his involvement and his excellent reputation among the more famous statesmen of the period. Jeffry H. Morrison's book remedies this deficit and is likely to become the standard work on Witherspoon's political thought and career." —History: Journal of the Historical Association
“John Witherspoon, a Scottish Presbyterian minister who came to America in 1768 to be president of the College of New Jersey (Princeton), is the latest candidate for inclusion among the Founding Fathers. Jeffry H. Morrison argues that any one of Witherspoon’s three careers—pastor, college president, and politician—should have guaranteed him the ‘prominent and lasting place in American history that he has been denied.’” —The Washington Times
“Morrison's study goes a long way toward remedying the lack of attention paid to Witherspoon. His book is not a biography, although it does contain much biographical information, as much as a study of Witherspoon's thought, particularly his political thought.” —American Historical Review
“Assessing the stature of any political theorist, is a difficult task, particularly for a neglected one in the American context. Morrison deserves much commendation for his efforts.” —Perspectives on Politics
“In this brief but thoughtful study, [Morrison] asserts that John Witherspoon, the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence, has been overlooked as an important founder of the American republic. Indeed, Jeffry H. Morrison's book is not a full-length biography. It is an analysis of Witherspoon's political thought from his arrival in America in 1768, when he became the president of the College of New Jersey, to his role in supporting the Constitution in 1787.” —Historian