Moats selected for new fellowship on Washington
For Sandy Moats, the timing couldn't have been better. The University of Wisconsin-Parkside History Professor recently received word she was selected to the inaugural class of fellows at the new Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.
"This fellowship became available at a time when I had a 'shovel ready' project, that I've been researching for the last couple of years. It will, eventually, be a book," Moats said. "And I'm also having a sabbatical this fall, so this was kind of a perfect storm for me of a lot of pieces coming together."
Moats' project, titled "George Washington and the Advent of American Neutrality as a Post-Revolutionary Concept, 1776-1793," will benefit from her having total access to Washington's voluminous correspondence and records.
"He has an enormous set of papers, basically from the time he was a revolutionary officer up until his death in 1799. And I'm going to be going through all of his papers. So, I'll be tracing the evolution of [neutrality] through Washington's papers and the papers of people like John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, all of the people who would have been involved in this whole process."
In announcing the selection of fellows, the Mt. Vernon Ladies' Association said the scholars will generate new research on the life, leadership, and legacy of George Washington. Fellows range from doctoral candidates to seasoned scholars and were selected by an independent jury of five prominent scholars.
Moats will be joined in residence at Mt. Vernon by people like Dr. Lydia Brandt of the University of South Carolina studying "Making Mount Vernon Anew," by the University of Houston's Dr. James Kirby Martin researching "George Washington: The Greatest Character of the Age," and by Dr. Edward Larson of Pepperdine University writing on "George Washington's Role in Shaping the Constitution."
Moats said she believes Washington is "overlooked" among the presidents and that, unlike France which overthrew its monarchy a few years after the American Revolution, Americans are still enjoying the benefits of Washington's leadership.
"We lucked out. [The French] end up with a dictatorship; we end up with a republican government and a lot of that is due to Washington being very thoughtful and careful in his role as the first president," Moats stated.
Moats said the chance to work on her scholarly interest full time is a "real pleasure," a pleasure made even better by the fact that she gets to work with other Washington scholars."Clearly," she added, "there are seven of us who think [George Washington's history] is pretty important."