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C. Jan Swearingen
Texas A & M University, College Station (College Station, TX 77843-0001)
The Influence of the Scottish Enlightenment on American Founders

This study examines the influence of Samuel Davies, Presbyterian itinerant, upon Patrick Henry's oratory and political thought as a case study of the rhetoric that developed in colonial Virginia after the Great Awakening. The examination will focus on the multiple religious and philosophical doctrines transmitted through Scottish Enlightenment teachers and clerics, culminating in Jefferson's crafting of the language of the Declaration. A revisionist reading of the Declaration will emphasize its reliance upon religious as well as political doctrines transmitted the Scots curriculum in rhetorical and moral philosophy shared by Henry, Jefferson, and Madison. The project will contribute to an understanding of the interplay between religion, rhetoric, and political thought in British America. Starting with George Buchanan's de Jure Regni apud Scotos, and concluding with a close reading of the Declaration, the study will provide a new account of Scots, and rhetoric, in Virginia.

Project fields:
Composition and Rhetoric

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2008 – 7/31/2009