John Fea is a professor of history and chair of the history department at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. A scholar of early American history and American religious history, he is the author of several books, most notably Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction (2011), which was one of three finalists for the George Washington Book Prize. He is also the author of the award-winning The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America (2009). His most recent book is Why Study History?: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past (2013). His work has appeared in publications as wide-ranging as the Journal of American History and the Washington Post. He lectures at colleges and universities, historical societies, and religious organizations and blogs daily at www.philipvickersfithian.com.
This lecture will serve as an introduction to the importance of historical thinking in a democratic society. I will focus on the place of historical skills such evidence-based arguments, empathy, truth-seeking, and humility, and how these practices and virtues are essential to the success of American democracy. Much of the material will be adapted from my 2013 book *Why Study History?: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past*