Under Our Own Vine and Fig Tree: Creating an American Metaphor for Liberty
Professor Daniel Dreisbach
September 17, 2013: 12:00 – 12:50 p.m.
Rivers Club in Pittsburgh
The ancient Hebrew blessing and prophetic vision of a new Jerusalem in which every man sits in safety “under his own vine and under his own fig tree” (Micah 4:4) is one of the most popular biblical metaphors in the political rhetoric of the American founding era. It was George Washington’s favorite biblical phrase, found nearly 50 times in his papers. The phrase was a metaphor for freedom from fear and from want, hospitality, and the peaceable enjoyment of private property. Its use as a representation of religious liberty was an American innovation of the metaphor. This presentation by Dr. Daniel Dreisbach of American University will discuss the popularity of this biblical phrase and consider why late 18th century Americans thought it was, in the words of one founding father, a picture of “perfect liberty.”
At our next American Founders Luncheon at noon on September 17 at Pittsburgh’s Rivers Club, The Center for Vision & Values welcomes back author and Professor Dr. Daniel L. Dreisbach of American University who has written extensively on the American Founding and American legal culture. Invite your friends to join us for a $17.76 lunch where Dr. Dreisbach will shed light on the Founders’ view of the source of liberty. Please register here or contact Mrs. Brenda Vinton at firstname.lastname@example.org@gcc.edu> or 724.450.1541.
Daniel L. Dreisbach is a professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University in Washington, D.C. He received a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia. Following law school, he served as a judicial clerk for Circuit Judge Robert F. Chapman of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Professor Dreisbach’s research interests include constitutional law and the intersection of politics, law, and religion in the American founding era. He is a current member of the editorial board of Politics and Religion (a Cambridge University Press journal) and a former managing editor of the Journal of Law and Politics. He has authored or edited eight books, including Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation between Church and State (New York University Press, 2002), Faith and the Founders of the American Republic (Oxford University Press, forthcoming), and The Sacred Rights of Conscience (Liberty Fund, 2009). He has contributed essays to leading reference works such as The Cambridge History of Religions in America (2012) and Oxford Handbook on Church and State in the United States (2010). He has published over 70 book chapters, reviews, and articles in scholarly journals, including American Journal of Legal History, Constitutional Commentary, Emory Law Journal, Journal of Church and State, and William & Mary Quarterly.
The U.S. Supreme Court has cited his scholarship, and he has served as a consultant to the Library of Congress and the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center for major exhibits. He has been a featured commentator in numerous documentaries, including PBS’s “Wall of Separation” (2007) and the recent PBS (American Experience and Frontline) series, “God in America.” He is a Senior Fellow at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion. Professor Dreisbach is a past recipient of American University’s highest faculty award, “Scholar / Teacher of the Year.”
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