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“Heirs of the Founders” author to give American History Book Club presentation

Last updated September 30, 2021

By Clinton Colmenares, Director of News and Media Strategy

In a time when politics seems more polarized than ever, historian and New York Times best-selling author H.W. Brands says there are lessons to be learned from 19th century politicians Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun and Daniel Webster.

Brands, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, will present “Heirs of the Founders: How Clay, Calhoun and Webster Showed Us the Way to Compromise,” on Thursday, Oct. 28, at The Poinsett Club. The event is sponsored by the American History Book Club and Forum (AHBC) and Furman University. Check-in begins at 5:30 p.m. with a book signing. Brands’ presentation will begin at 6 p.m. and will include a question-and-answer period. (See below for ticket information.)

This year’s Huff student and alumni scholar winners will also be recognized at the event. The awards are named for A.V. Huff, a former Furman professor, dean and vice president for academic affairs, and his wife Kate Huff, an elementary school teacher.

George King, a Furman junior, is the recipient of the A.V. Huff History Scholars Award. A History major from McLean, Virginia, King is studying the Civil Rights movement with Furman faculty member Steve O’Neill. King’s research examines the long-term effects the Brown v. Board of Education decision on integration in Charleston County, South Carolina. His main focus is on the federal court case of Ganaway and the United States v. Charleston School District and the State of South Carolina, a class action case decided in 1992 in favor of the school district and the state.

The winner of the Kate Huff History Scholars Award is the Greenville County Living History Farm at Roper Mountain, curated by Dana Lackey. With Greenville County students learning remotely and the Living Farm closed due to the pandemic, Lackey enlisted the help of Furman faculty member George Lipscomb and his elementary social studies methods students to help plan virtual lessons around the Underground Railroad and Reconstruction.

According to the publisher, “Heirs of the Founders” is a “riveting story of how, in 19th-century America, a new set of political giants battled to complete the unfinished work of the founding fathers and decide the future of our democracy.”

NPR’s Scott Detrow wrote that the book “brings to life a transitional era of American politics when the scope and power of the federal government was unknown, as were the boundaries of the United States. It also details the, at times, delayed and meandering, but ultimately inevitable, march toward catastrophe that a half-slave and half-free country found itself in.”

H.W. (Henry William) Brands was born in Oregon, went to college in California, sold cutlery across the American West and earned graduate degrees in mathematics and history. He taught at Vanderbilt University and Texas A&M University before joining the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, where he holds the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History and teaches history and writing to graduate students and undergraduates.

Brands’ books include “The Zealot and the Emancipator,” “Dreams of El Dorado,” “Heirs of the Founders,” “The General vs. the President” and “Reagan.” Several of his books have been bestsellers; two, “Traitor to His Class” and “The First American,” were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize.

He lectures frequently on historical and current events and can be seen and heard on national and international television and radio. His writings have been translated into 11 different languages. For the past several years he has been writing American history as poetry and publishing it on Twitter (@hwbrands).

Founded in 2008, the AHBC “provides opportunities for the intellectually curious to explore their passion for American history through the written and spoken presentations of great writers and historians. The club is dedicated to creating interest in the nation’s cultural, economic and political history, to inspiring appreciation for enlightened traditions of the American experience and to advancing the United States’ distinctive leadership role in the world.”

Previous AHBC speakers include Michael Beschloss, Maureen Dowd, David Brooks, Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough.

For more information and to purchase tickets ($50 in person; $35 virtually), contact Karen Corn at or 864-294-3351.

Last updated September 30, 2021
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Clinton Colmenares
Director of News and Media Strategy
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