Pro­fessor Lucas Morel speaks to Hillsdle College graduate
stu­dents in Wash­ington, D.C. on Fred­erick Dou­glass.
Courtesy | Robert Hasler

Hillsdale graduate stu­dents in Wash­ington, D.C., wel­comed a new vis­iting pro­fessor this fall, Lucas Morel, to teach on the life and states­manship of Fred­erick Douglass.

Morel, the John K. Boardman Jr. pro­fessor of pol­itics at Wash­ington and Lee Uni­versity, is cur­rently teaching a one-credit intensive course on Dou­glass for Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby Jr. Center for Con­sti­tu­tional Studies and Cit­i­zenship campus in Wash­ington, D.C.

Morel has spent 22 years at Wash­ington and Lee Uni­versity, where he is on sab­batical from his position for the 2020 – 2021 aca­demic year. In addition to the course on Fred­erick Dou­glass, Morel will teach a class on the modern civil rights movement.

Morel has been a friend of Hillsdale College since he met College Pres­ident Larry Arnn while getting his Ph.D. at Claremont-McKenna College in Cal­i­fornia. At the time, Arnn was pres­ident of the Claremont Institute, where Morel is a senior fellow. Morel also taught the summer master’s program in American history and gov­ernment at Ashland Uni­versity in Ashland, Ohio. Before teaching at Wash­ington and Lee, Morel taught for five years at John Brown Uni­versity in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. 

According to Matthew Spalding, dean of the Van Andel Graduate School of States­manship and pro­fessor in con­sti­tu­tional gov­ernment, Morel is a well-known figure among several pro­fessors at Hillsdale College. So far, Spalding said, Morel’s course has been a hit with Hillsdale’s graduate students. 

“It’s a very popular course, stu­dents are really enjoying it,” Spalding said.

Stu­dents will answer ques­tions such as: “Is the Con­sti­tution pro-slavery or pro-liberty?” and “What is the best way to abolish slavery in the American federal system?” To accom­modate working stu­dents in Wash­ington, D.C., the class meets on two weekends in the semester — for an hour and half on Friday, Oct. 23, and Friday, Nov. 13, and on the two sub­se­quent Sat­urdays from 9 a.m. — 4 p.m. with inter­mittent breaks. 

 Student Anna Fron­zaglia said she’s enjoying Morel’s class.

“This class is an unearthed, intel­lectual treasure,” Fron­zaglia said.

Fron­zaglia spoke favorably of Morel’s teaching style and expertise. 

“Pro­fessor Morel is a gifted sto­ry­teller who mas­ter­fully unlocks the mag­na­nimity of the his­torical giant and statesman, Fred­erick Dou­glass,” Fron­zaglia said.

Morel’s areas of expertise include American gov­ernment, political phi­losophy, Black American pol­itics, and the life and states­manship of Fred­erick Dou­glass and Abraham Lincoln. The professor’s twitter handle is even @LincolnDouglass.

Morel is working on a book entitled, “Lincoln, Race, and the Fragile American Republic,” and has written two other books on the subject of Lincoln’s states­manship, “Lincoln and the American Founding” and “Lincoln’s Sacred Effort: Defining Religion’s Role in American Self-Gov­ernment.” Morel is also the author of numerous other articles and essays on sub­jects ranging from the late Asso­ciate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Antonin Scalia’s jurispru­dence to reli­gious freedom to America’s racial divide. Morel says he believes Dou­glass to be a statesman, “only perhaps rivaled by that of Lincoln.” 

Morel said Dou­glass would “have a ton to say” if he were alive to see the current state of race rela­tions in America.

But, Morel said he believes Dou­glass’ under­standing of “the con­sti­tution and equal pro­tection under the law” would place him on the wrong side of con­ven­tional thinking today, espe­cially in regard to affir­mative action policies. Morel said Dou­glass would have opposed affir­mative action as a pro­ponent of a “color-blind Constitution.” 

What Dou­glass was fighting against in his day was the fact that, “many cit­izens, espe­cially white cit­izens, weren’t being con­sistent,” in applying the law equally to blacks and whites, and he wouldn’t have favored pref­er­ential treatment for either.