Forrest McDonald wrote one of the first detailed accounts of the life of Samuel Insull, an entrepreneur who helped to develop electric utility systems in the United States, and who was persecuted by the FDR administration.
(p. 20) Forrest McDonald, a presidential and constitutional scholar who challenged liberal shibboleths about early American history and lionized the founding fathers as uniquely intellectual, died on Tuesday [January 19, 2016] in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
. . .
As a Pulitzer Prize finalist in history and a professor at the University of Alabama, Dr. McDonald declared himself an ideological conservative and an opponent of intrusive government. (“I’d move the winter capital to North Dakota and outlaw air-conditioning in the District of Columbia,” he once said.) But he refused to be pigeonholed either as a libertarian or, despite his Southern agrarian roots, as a Jeffersonian.
. . .
In “Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution” (1985), which was one of three finalists for the 1986 Pulitzer Prize in history, he pronounced the founding fathers as singularly qualified to draft the framework of federalism. He reiterated that point when he delivered the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Jefferson Lecture in Washington in 1987.
“To put it bluntly,” Dr. McDonald said then, “it would be impossible in America today to assemble a group of people with anything near the combined experience, learning and wisdom that the 55 authors of the Constitution took with them to Philadelphia in the summer of 1787.”
. . .
Dr. McDonald wrote more than a dozen books, including biographies of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. Interviewed by Brian Lamb on C-Span’s “Booknotes” in 1994, Dr. McDonald revealed that he typically wrote in longhand on a yellow legal pad and in the nude. (“We’ve got wonderful isolation,” he said, “and it’s warm most of the year in Alabama, and why wear clothes?”)
For the full obituary, see:
SAM ROBERTS. “Forrest McDonald, 89, Critic of Liberal Views of History.” The New York Times, First Section (Sun., Jan. 24, 2016): 20.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date JAN. 22, 2016, and has the title “Forrest McDonald, Historian Who Punctured Liberal Notions, Dies at 89.”)
The McDonald book mentioned by me way above, is:
McDonald, Forrest. Insull. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962.