John Willson

John Willson is professor emeritus of history at Hillsdale College.  His work has been published in Chronicles, Modern Age, Imprimis, and the University Bookman, and he contributed to Reflections on the French Revolution (Regnery Gateway, 1990). Dr. Willson is past president of the Philadelphia Society and gives speeches regularly to various groups.

Latest by John Willson in Chronicles

Results: 29 Articles found.
  • Thornton Wilder's Depression
    December 6, 2018

    Thornton Wilder's Depression

    Thornton Wilder met Sigmund Freud in the fall of 1935. Freud had read Wilder’s new novel, Heaven’s My Destination. “‘No seeker after God,’” writes Wilder’s biographer (quoting Freud of himself), “he threw it across the room.”

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  • The Loss and Recovery of Truth
    April 2016

    The Loss and Recovery of Truth

    “Philosophy of history is a concept coined by Voltaire,” Gerhart Niemeyer said to me in the spring of 1977, repeating the first sentence of his lecture, “The Loss and Recovery of History,” delivered at a Hillsdale College seminar a few weeks before and later published in Imprimis (October 1977).

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  • The Chief and His Men
    March 2016

    The Chief and His Men

    On June 1, 1945, Pope Pius XII met for three hours in private audience with his co-conspirator, the German lawyer Josef Müller. “I had hardly crossed the threshold into his study when the Holy Father approached me, and embraced me,” Müller later wrote.

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  • His Land, His People
    July 2014

    His Land, His People

    “Dickinson was, in truth,” writes William Murchison, "as much philosopher as writer, a man to whom God had imparted the gifts not merely of expression but also of examination and reflection. Among the large fraternity active in the cause of independence, he gave place, intellectually, to no one."

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  • The Person Is Always Becoming
    April 2014

    The Person Is Always Becoming

    Everyone in the Western world writes from left to right, so Michael Novak’s title is more cute than revealing. The subtitle, on the other hand, makes a claim: that he moved from at one point in his life being a liberal to an admission that, sometime before he reached his present octogenarian state, he was willing to take on the burdensome label of conservative.

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  • Out and About
    February 2014

    Out and About

    There are things to conserve out and about, and for a long time Britain did a good job of it.

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  • A Difficult Decade
    September 2013

    A Difficult Decade

    James Patterson’s controlling idea is that the 60’s became the 60’s in 1965, and that this represented an “Eve of Destruction.” One struggles for about 300 pages trying to find out . . . destruction of what?

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  • J. Evetts Haley, American Cato
    May 2012

    J. Evetts Haley, American Cato

    The Haleys made it out to West Texas after a while, the products of Virginia and Tennessee mostly, with names that bespoke people of the border culture of what the Romans called Albion.

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  • The End of a Myth
    April 2012

    The End of a Myth

    “That was the summer of seventy-three,” writes Forrest McDonald. “Remember it well, and cherish the memory, for things will never be that good again.”

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  • Thornton Wilder's Depression
    November 2011

    Thornton Wilder's Depression

    Thornton Wilder met Sigmund Freud in the fall of 1935. Freud had read Wilder’s new novel, Heaven’s My Destination. “‘No seeker after God,’” writes Wilder’s biographer (quoting Freud of himself), “he threw it across the room.”

    Read More
  • September 2011

    Peter Stanlis, R.I.P.

    Peter Stanlis sometimes seemed stiff and formal; and he was, because he practiced his whole life the arts of a gentleman. This required a certain reserve, but one that never covered heavily the kindness of his Christian nature.

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  • A Life Rediscovered
    March 2011

    A Life Rediscovered

    ISI Books, the publishing arm of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, is doing a great service by putting out the Lives of the Founders series, emphasizing “important but unjustly neglected figures of the American Founding.”

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  • Academic Sins
    September 2010

    Academic Sins

    A graduate student asked if he could take a reading course; sitting at my feet, I thought, talking with the rabbi. He was in his early 30’s, a little older than I was, and he had taught in a private school for boys for ten years.

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  • Bear
    August 2010


    We were driving back to Michigan after a conference on Herbert Hoover that I had organized for the Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa, in 1984. After you get past Hammond and Gary, Indiana is flat but quite nice. Our beautiful Buick 225 Ultra blew the head gasket on the Indiana Toll Road near LaPorte.

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  • Immigration: A History Lesson
    June 2010

    Immigration: A History Lesson

    “The United States is a nation of immigrants” is a meaningless statement, but that is not to say that it has no meaning.

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  • April 2010

    It's the Jobs

    Which presidents of the United States have done a job of work? This little survey is limited to those born in the 20th century. Before that, everybody worked.

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  • Adams’ Federalism

    In 1786, John Adams wrote in his diary that a friend, “lamenting the differences of character between Virginia and New England,” welcomed from Adams a recipe for a Chesapeake makeover: “I recommended to him town meetings, training days, town schools, and ministers”; these “are the scenes where New England men were formed.”

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  • City Mouse, Country Mouse
    March 2009

    City Mouse, Country Mouse

    We whose parents read to us the Bible, the Brothers Grimm, Mother Goose, Hans Christian Anderson, Reynard the Fox, Pilgrim’s Progress, and Aesop’s Fables know almost by heart the story of “The Country Mouse and the Town Mouse.”

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  • January 2009

    Frummie's Song

    Frummie and his friends were beside themselves a few months ago over the nerve of Vanity Fair. It quoted them! And they were surprised that Vanity Fair was . . . unfair. “Out of context! Out of context!”

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  • September 2008


    Mike Carey was the first “African-American” to head a crew that refereed a Super Bowl—the one in which the sainted Tom Brady got his butt kicked by the lowly Giants.

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Results: 29 Articles found.