Heretics, Infidels, Founding Fathers: Matthew Stewart ’85 Examines the Secular Roots of American Independence

Matthew Stewart '85

Matthew Stewart ’85

The American Revolution led to the creation of the world’s first secular republic. According to Matthew Stewart ’85’s new book, Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic, it was this secular break from the supernatural religion of the British that made America’s independence truly revolutionary. The book offers a reappraisal of the religious and philosophical origins of America’s revolution and shows that it was secularist ideals, not Christian values, that drove the establishment of America’s most cherished freedoms.

To explain his argument, Stewart investigates the prevalence of deism: the belief that an impersonal God expects humans to reason out their own ethical codes. This belief system, which finds its roots in classical, pagan philosophy, was held not only by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, but also lesser-known figures like Thomas Young, instigator of the Boston Tea Party. It was these men and their largely secular, rational way of thinking that informed the ideas of personal liberty, religious freedom, and the proper role of governmental power — ideas that are now at the core of America’s most treasured documents.

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#ThrowbackThursday: 1964 Princeton Football

Coach Dick Colman, left, with Cosmo Iacavazzi ’65 in 1964. (PAW Archives)

Coach Dick Colman, left, with Cosmo Iacavazzi ’65 in 1964. (PAW Archives)

At halftime of this weekend’s Princeton-Harvard game, the University will honor the 1964 Tigers football team, which completed the program’s last perfect season 50 years ago this fall. The team included a trio of All-Americans — running back Cosmo Iacavazzi ’65, linebacker Stas Maliszewski ’66, and kicker Charlie Gogolak ’66 — as well as future College Football Hall of Fame coach Dick Colman.

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Tiger of the Week: Richard Preston *83, Back on the Ebola Story

Richard Preston *83 (Nancy Jo Johnson)

Richard Preston *83 (Nancy Jo Johnson)

Twenty years ago, Richard Preston *83’s best-seller, The Hot Zone, introduced readers to the Ebola virus in what was billed on the cover as a “terrifying true story.” When Ebola returned to the headlines in recent months, Preston came back to the story, reporting for The New Yorker, the magazine for which Preston first covered the Ebola story in 1992.

In August, Preston told the story of Daniel Bausch, an American doctor in an Ebola ward in Kenema, Sierra Leone. This week, the magazine published “The Ebola Wars,” Preston’s in-depth look at the situation on the ground in Sierra Leone intertwined with reporting on scientists at MIT’s Broad Institute who are working to understand Ebola’s genome. He also traced the stories of American Ebola survivors Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, and U.S. hospitals’ first encounter with the virus. “We weren’t prepared,” Preston told CNN on Monday. “I would say that many health workers in Africa were more prepared for Ebola than people in the most sophisticated hospitals in the U.S. This is a learning curve, but they’re coming up fast on that learning curve in the United States, and I have confidence that they’re going to be able to handle it.” Continue reading

New History Covers Swimming and Diving’s 110 Years

Future Olympian Jed Graef ’64, center, dives into the water on the Feb. 8, 1963, cover of PAW. (PAW Archives)

Future Olympian Jed Graef ’64, center, dives into the water on the Feb. 8, 1963, cover of PAW. (PAW Archives)

About 300 alumni of the Princeton swimming and diving teams returned to campus last weekend to commemorate the program’s 110th anniversary. The celebration included receptions, a dinner, and a preseason scrimmage meet. It also served as the impetus for a new and expansive history of the program, written by Sanford Thatcher ’65, longtime secretary for the Friends of Princeton Swimming and Diving and a former director of the Penn State University Press.

Thatcher, who still swims at about a dozen masters meets each year near his home in Frisco, Texas, began researching Princeton swimming history in the 1970s, for a column in the Friends’ newsletter. He drew on those notes, as well as contributions from recent alumni, to create a 99-page history. It covers the great seasons, legendary coaches, and top-ranked swimmers, but it also touches on less traditional topics — marriages between swimming alumni, the achievements of former Tigers after college, and other historical tidbits, such as diver Alan Routh ’59’s role on the first Navy SEAL team. “That is what makes this, I think, a document that is unique in sports histories [at Princeton],” Thatcher told PAW. Continue reading

Princeton in the Fall (Slide Show)

Last week, photographer and PAW intern Jennifer Shyue ’17 captured images of the changing campus colors — and one furry friend.

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Tigers Prove Quarterback Depth is Useful for More Than Creative Formations

Last year, Princeton football made headlines for lining up its three quarterbacks on the field at the same time, alternating who took the snaps. As unusual as the strategy seemed, it paid off—the Tigers led the Ivy League in yards per game and rushing yards last season. Of that trio, then-junior Quinn Epperly was the most familiar face on the field. The 2013 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year topped the conference in both rushing and passing touchdowns, leading the nation in points responsible per game.

Connor Michelsen ’15 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Connor Michelsen ’15 (Office of Athletic Communications)

But as Ivy football rolls into its midpoint this season, Princeton saw a change of scenery in its quarterback spot during a 27-16 victory over Brown. Senior Connor Michelsen, taking over for his injured classmate Epperly, looked comfortable in the pocket throughout the game, throwing for 367 yards and two touchdowns to keep Princeton perfect at 2-0 in Ivy play (3-2 overall).

On Saturday, there was no trace of the sluggish starts that plagued the Tigers last season. Princeton sealed its victory early, scoring on each of its first four drives to the Brown end zone. Kicker Nolan Bieck ’16 converted on a 26-yard field goal to start things off, bringing him to twelve consecutive conversions since last season. Michelsen later connected with Matt Costello ’15 for a 49-yard touchdown, moving the seasoned wide receiver into sixth place on Princeton’s all-time receptions list. Continue reading