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Garry Wills


Adjunct Professor of History, Northwestern University; Author, "Negro President": Jefferson and the Slave Power; Pulitzer Prize-winning Author, Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America.

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Recent Commentary

A SLAVE TO THE SYSTEM? Thomas Jefferson and Slavery

with Jack Rakove, Garry Willsvia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, January 19, 2004

When the Constitution of the United States was ratified in 1789, the infamous "three-fifths clause" gave the southern slaveholding states disproportionate power within the federal government. To what extent did this southern advantage help the southerner Thomas Jefferson win the presidency? And to what extent did Jefferson, author of the phrase "all men are created equal," use the power of his presidency to preserve and perpetuate the institution of slavery?

ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL: The Separation of Church and State

with Douglas W. Kmiec, Garry Willsvia Uncommon Knowledge
Tuesday, January 6, 2004

The First Amendment of the Constitution declares in part that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." What did this amendment mean to the founders who wrote it? Did they intend to establish an inviolate "wall of separation between church and state"? Or was their intent instead to merely preserve religious freedom and prevent the establishment of a national religion?

A CRISIS OF FAITH: The Crisis in the Catholic Church

with Rod Dreher, Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J, Garry Willsvia Uncommon Knowledge
Thursday, June 27, 2002

The year will be remembered as a difficult one for the Catholic Church in America. Sex abuse scandals and criticism of the church's response to those scandals dominated the headlines for months. Sexual abuse is not the only subject creating controversy within Catholic circles. Other divisive matters include the role of women within the church, gay priests, and the relation of American bishops to the Vatican. Is the Catholic Church in danger of losing its constituency in America? Are substantial reforms in the structure and teachings of the Catholic Church necessary? Or are reforms what got the church in trouble in the first place?

POPE AND CIRCUMSTANCE: The Legacy of Pope John Paul II

with Rod Dreher, Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J, Garry Willsvia Uncommon Knowledge
Thursday, June 27, 2002

In 1978, the Polish cardinal Karol Wojtyla was elected to the papacy of the Catholic Church, taking the name John Paul II. In the twenty-four years since, Pope John Paul II has traveled more widely and held audiences for more people than any other pope in history. But beyond his long service and high profile, how will John Paul II be remembered? Will he be remembered more for his political impact—many say that he played a crucial role in the fall of communism in Eastern Europe—or for his ecclesiastical work? Just how well has John Paul II prepared the Catholic Church for the twenty-first century?