Virginian Honor: The Ethics of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson | Virginia Museum of History & Culture
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Virginian Honor: The Ethics of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson

Dr. Craig Bruce Smith

On September 6, 2018, Craig Bruce Smith delivered the banner lecture, “Virginian Honor: The Ethics of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.”

Despite being born into different generations and regions, fellow Virginians George Washington and Thomas Jefferson believed honor was central to the American Revolution, the new nation, and daily life. While both writing to their nephews, Washington insisted “let honor & probity be your polar star,” and Jefferson instructed, “Never suppose that in any possible situation or under any circumstances that it is best for you to do a dishonourable thing.” They each felt this ideal was so essential that it needed to be imparted to the next generation. But what did they mean by honor?

Drawn from his new book "American Honor: The Creation of the Nation’s Ideals during the Revolutionary Era," Craig Bruce Smith explores the ethical roots of Washington and Jefferson’s thinking. He shows two distinct paths to prominence in early America and presents how honor was formed from the battlefields to academia to the presidency.

Dr. Craig Bruce Smith is an Assistant Professor of History and the Director of the History Program at William Woods University. He specializes is in early American cultural and intellectual history during the long eighteenth century and the Age of Revolution and has broader interests in colonial America, the early republic, leadership, the Atlantic world, military history, and the American Founders.