OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

John Fea

Portrait of John Fea

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.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

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*
Over 80% of American evangelicals voted for Donald Trump in 2016. What does this tell us about the current state of American evangelicalism? This lecture will explore the history of the evangelical movement since World War 2 and its close connection to the Republican Party. It will focus on how many conservative evangelicals, some of whom supported Trump, use the past to promote their political ideas.
Drawn from his award-winning book by the same title, this lecture tackles the relationship between Christianity and the American founding from a historical (apolitical) perspective. It examines the idea of "Christian America," the role of the Bible in the founding era, the place of religion in the founding documents, and the founders commitment to religious freedom.
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*
This lecture draws from Fea's current research on the role of religion in the American Revolution by examining the impact of Presbyterianism on the Revolution in the mid-Atlantic region. Attention is paid to the connections between the First Great Awakening and the American Revolution, the importance of the College of New Jersey at Princeton (and its president John Witherspoon), and the emergence of Presbyterian political activity in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
This lecture explores the history and memory of the so-called "Greenwich Tea Burning," an act of patriotic resistance that took place in the small Delaware Bay town of Greenwich in 1774. Most of the lecture is devoted to the way this event has been remembered by the community from 1774 to the present. The tea-burning has served as a "useable past" for the people of rural Cumberland County, New Jersey and was invoked during tmes of social and cultural change. This lecture would be of interest to local historians, public historians, and anyone interested in the memory of the American Revolution. Much of the research for this lecture stems from the work of "The Greenwich Tea Burning Project," a small local history project I directed from 2009-2011.
This hands-on, practical lecture focuses on the many ways that historians can engage the larger public with their work through social media, op-eds in newspapers, public speaking, and writing for popular audiences. The lecture (or workshop) can be geared toward undergraduates, graduates students, established scholars, or a combination of all three groups. It draws from my parts of my book *Why Study History?* and my experience engaging public audiences.