All around the country, Alpha Chi members are producing extraordinary scholarship across the disciplines. We’ll be spotlighting some of their most compelling research projects in the coming months. Let their work be your inspiration.
Q: What is the full title of your project?
“George Washington on the Founding of the United States”
Q: How did this project get started? What was your research question?
The project started as an assignment for my Historical Methods course. The original question was something like, “Was the American Revolution Radical or Conservative?” As I started reading it to my professor, he led me to change the question to, “Was George Washington a Pragmatic Thinker or a Revolutionary Thinker?”
Q: What did you learn? (Tell us about your argument/conclusion in a nutshell.)
Through my research I discovered that George Washington was not a radical thinker, but rather a pragmatic thinker who looked for practical solutions instead of idealistic ones.
Q: What changed in your perspective along the way?
My perspective of George Washington himself changed the most during the project. The reason for this is that, before my research, I had the common popular view of Washington as being this visionary Founding Father that media often portrays, instead of what he really was – a guy who looked for pragmatic solutions to problems facing him.
Q: Why does it matter? (What’s the greater purpose and key implication of your work? Do you see it as part of any larger conversations? Can you help us understand the greater context or the reasons for your work?)
What matters from my research is not necessarily the specifics, but I think it’s the takeaway I received from it. We should not paint historical figures as larger than life characters that who on mythical characteristics like we so often do with people like the Founding Fathers. Instead, we need to look at them for what they were – people just like you and me trying to live how they perceived was best.
Q: What do you want people to take away from your project?
What I want people to take away is not just the fact that George Washington was a pragmatic thinker but also the lesson I learned, which was that we must take care to remember that even the Founding Fathers were simply people and not mythical figures.
Q: What’s next for you (both personally, academically, and in the life of this project)?
My first priority is to finish my degree at Huntington. After that I need to decide if I want to start teaching right away or go straight into grad school. No matter my decision, this dive into historical figures and looking at what drove them will continue in my spare time, so I can take my knowledge and use it to make these historical figures come alive in my classroom.
Q: Any additional thoughts you’d like to share?
This is a recommendation to any who haven’t gotten the chance to attend an Alpha Chi National Convention: make it your priority to attend at least one. It’s a fantastic experience!