Anna-Catherine Kueng- Assistant Editor~


Author and historian, Fergus Bordewich, will speak to students at the GS100 Freshman Seminar on Friday, October 19. He is best known for writing The First Congress: How James Madison, George Washington, and a Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government, but he has also published six other successful non-fiction books. His writings focus primarily on American history during the 18th and 19th century.

Bordewich is a frequent writer for The Wall Street Journal and has been featured on National Public Radio (NPR) several times. His writing is highly distinguished, winning “Best History Book of 2012” by The Los Angeles Time for his second book, America’s Great Debate. This was also deemed one of “The Best Books of 2012” by The Washington Post; in addition, it was recognized at the 2012 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

“It is an incredible opportunity to have a speaker of his caliber,” said Sally Selden, who is the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Along with Bordewich’s success as a writer, he is also an independent historian. He conducts research on his own instead of being tied to a specific academic institution. Though he may not work for a university, Bordewich often travels throughout the U.S. to speak to students pursuing higher education.

In his presentation at U of L, Bordewich will be focusing on topics related to the American Evolution, which is this year’s theme for Freshman Seminar. The American Evolution commemorates the 400th anniversary of 1619, which was a monumental year for the foundation and the future of America. First-year students are expanding their knowledge on America’s history that began in Virginia with the settlement of Jamestown; in fact, the common reading for freshmen is Love and Hate in Jamestown by David A. Price, who spoke at Freshman Seminar in September.

This will be Bordewich’s first time at U of L and he was recommended to  Selden by history professor Dr. Adam Dean. He became familiar with Bordewich during graduate school and then met him this summer. Bordewich was the chair and critic of a panel that Dean was on at a conference in Pennsylvania.

“Mr. Bordewich has a great deal of knowledge regarding the challenges facing the early American republic. He is a rare academic in that his work is appreciated by both scholars and the general public,” said Dean.

In addition to the freshman seminar, Bordewich will also be speaking to students who are history majors during his stay in Lynchburg.

Although Bordewich is speaking to students in a specific major for the latter part of his time here, Selden believes that it is beneficial for students to hear from people outside of their majors as well. In the past, speakers like Bordewich would have only spoken in senior symposium classes, but the First-Year Engagement staff has worked hard to give these opportunities to freshmen as well.

“It is really important to be introduced to different ideas by leading-edge speakers in their fields,” said Selden.

To learn more about Bordewich, visit or hear him at the GS100 Freshman Seminar on October 19 at 8 A.M. and 9 A.M. in Sydnor Performance Hall, located in Schewel.