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 is executive editor of Current.
This lecture focuses on the story of Philip Vickers Fithian, one of early America's most prolific diarists and observers of revolutionary-era life in New Jersey, Virginia, the Pennsylvania frontier, and the New York campaign of 1776. It focuses on how one young man navigated his way through the changing circumstance of Revolutionary America and tried to reconcile Enlightenment ambition with his Presbyterian faith and local attachments. The lecture draws from my award-winning, *The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America*