Date(s) - 03/24/18
9:30 am - 1:15 pm
One Day University
March 24, 2018 9:30 AM – 1:15 PM
The Egyptian kings, who created long lived, god-given dynasties, never imagined ancient Egypt would ever fall. How could a civilization which built the Great Pyramids, capable of 3000 years of the same religious, political, economic, and social systems ever fall? But fall it did, losing autonomous rule around when it was taken into the Roman Empire, and losing its cultural identity in the 4th century AD when Christianity became the only accepted religion in the Roman Empire. Could they have survived? Ancient Greece was never united politically. Regions warred with each other until Alexander the Great conquered the whole Mediterranean, defeating the Persians and entering India. But just ten years later, in 323 BC, that great empire was already dead and Alexander himself was fevered and gaunt, expiring of typhoid or some other infectious disease. His chosen successor and his son were killed by rivals. The great warrior was so busy taking over the world that he never put any systems in place to keep the empire he had taken.
Of course, Rome’s fall has been debated endlessly, and historians can’t even agree on the date, as numerous theories abound. In 285 AD when Diocletian divided the vast expanse into two halves? In 378 AD when Rome lost to the Goths at the disastrous Battle of Adrianople? In 380 AD when Christianity became the only accepted religion of the Roman Empire? Or as late as 1453 when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks? The question becomes: when wasn’t Rome falling, and how did it even function as long as it did? What were the instigators of such constant distress? Historians are obsessed with the rise and fall of great civilizations of the past. Those same historians like to instruct us to learn from the past lest we repeat past mistakes. So…can Americans learn anything from the fall of Greece, Egypt and Rome that we can apply to our own modern world?
Kara Cooney / UCLA
Kara Cooney is an Egyptologist and Professor at UCLA. In 2002, she was Kress Fellow at the National Gallery of Art and worked on the Cairo Museum exhibition “Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt.” In 2005, she acted as fellow curator for Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at the LA County Museum of Art. She also worked on two Discovery Channel documentary series: “Out of Egypt” and “Egypt’s Lost Queen.”
Hamilton is experiencing a well-deserved revival. Often forced to take a back seat to other Founding Fathers, his vision of America as an economic powerhouse with a dynamic and aggressive government as its engine has found many followers. Hamilton helped get the Constitution ratified, helped found the Federalist Party, and served as the first Secretary of the Treasury. An orphan born in the West Indies, he was like a son to George Washington and perhaps should have been like a brother to Thomas Jefferson.
But Jefferson fought bitterly against the Federalists and his election as president ushered in the “revolution of 1800.” Ironically, it would be Hamilton who helped assure Jefferson’s triumph over Aaron Burr. Jefferson articulated a different vision from Hamilton’s, promoting an agrarian democracy built upon geographic expansion—an “empire of liberty,” he called it. In 1793, he would resign as Secretary of State to protest Hamilton’s policies. In retirement, Jefferson would reflect on the differences between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans and express fear for the future of the new nation.
Louis Masur / Rutgers University
Louis Masur is a Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. He received outstanding teaching awards from Rutgers, Trinity College, and the City College of New York, and won the Clive Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Harvard University. He is the author of many books including “Lincoln’s Last Speech,” which was inspired by a talk he presented at One Day University. His essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, and Chicago Tribune. He is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and serves on the Historians’ Council of the Gettysburg Foundation.
We may not wear bell bottoms and tie-dye t-shirts anymore, and let’s not talk about what happened to our hair. But even though almost half a century has passed since the 1960s, it’s a decade that continues to reverberate in our society, politics, culture, and institutions to this very day. In many ways, America today is a product of the Sixties. From civil rights to feminism to gay liberation to the environmental movement to the silent majority, what started back then has shaped and influenced our country ever since.
Before the Sixties, Americans trusted their government and their leaders; since the Sixties, we question almost everything they do. Before the Sixties, it was Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, and the sturdy dad with the lunchpail that symbolized our culture; since the Sixties, diversity and individuality define who we are. Whereas we once looked to executives at General Motors and General Electric to chart our economic progress, we now gain inspiration from the late hippie who invented the iPhone. To many, the presidency of Barack Obama symbolized the liberation movements of the Sixties. But it’s also important to ask how the Sixties produced the presidency of Donald Trump. To understand America today, we must understand the lessons from the 1960s.
Leonard Steinhorn / American University
Leonard Steinhorn is a professor of communication and affiliate professor of history at American University. He currently serves as a political analyst for CBS News in Washington, D.C. He is the author of “The Greater Generation: In Defense of the Baby Boom Legacy,” and co-author of “By the Color of Our Skin: The Illusion of Integration and the Reality of Race,” books that have generated widespread discussion and debate. Professor Steinhorn’s writings have been featured in several publications, including The Washington Post, Salon, Politico, and Huffington Post. He has twice been named Faculty Member of the Year at AU.