to Gene Clanton's history page; I hope you find
something worthwhile regarding the subject of American
Populism (1890-1903)--that's the original version of
Populism, not to be confused with the small "p"
generic rendition, referred to in days gone by as
"pseudo populism" and more recently as "faux
populism." For the latter version you will not need an historian; virtually any journalist, political pundit, or cracker-barrel philosopher should suffice. You
may also be assisted by consulting Richard Hofstadter's The Age of
Reform (1955) *and/or
Michael Kazin's The Populist Persuasion
(1995), both highly influential studies. More
recently, an extreme example of faux populist
interpretation can be found in John Lukacs,
Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred
(2005). Regarding Lukacs, see "The Anti-Populist," at
*As time has given us the necessary perspective,
it would appear that Professor Hofstadter, in the latter
portion of his life, had altered his political
philosophy to such an extent that he qualified as one of
our earliest modern neo-conservatives; as a matter of
fact, if memory serves me well, he identified himself as a "neo-conservative" in
one of his last interviews.
Officially, my name is Orval Gene
Clanton, and I
first saw the light of day in Pittsburg, Kansas,
smack-dab in the middle of the Great Depression:
frankly, I don't recall the event at all. Since 1966 I have
introduced myself as Gene
Clanton--and in some published works as O. Gene
Clanton. I am proud to say that I am the
product of Kansas' once outstanding public school
system, graduating in 1952 from Pittsburg High
School. In 1954, after attending Kansas State
Teachers College of Pittsburg, Kansas, for three
semesters, I joined the United States Army
and served with the 11th Airborne Division, 188th
Airborne Infantry Regiment, from 1954 to
1957. After resuming my college education
[thanks, in part, to the GI Bill & American
taxpayers] I graduated from Kansas State
College of Pittsburg in 1959 with a B.S. in
Education. While teaching in high school at
Lamar, Colorado, from 1960 to 1962, I completed a
master's degree in history from Kansas State
College of Pittsburg. From 1962 to 1966 I was
a student in the history doctoral program offered
by the University of Kansas. While there I
also taught as an assistant instructor from 1962 to
1965, and from 1965 to 1966 as an instructor.
In 1966 I took the position of instructor in the
department of history at Texas A&M University.
The next year I completed my doctoral work at the
University of Kansas and was promoted to assistant
professor at A&M. In the Spring of 1968 I was
offered an assistant professorship at Washington
State University, a position I assumed in September
1968 after serving as a visiting professor of
history at Georgia State College in Atlanta during
the 1968 summer session. From 1968 to 1997
I held the position of assistant, associate,
and professor at Washington State University.
Promotion to a full professorship came in 1978.
Since 1997 I have been an emeritus professor of
From 1962 to 1997 I taught a wide variety of courses at four different universities. Among these, I am
pleased to report that I offered the first course ever taught at Washington State University dealing with the history of the
women's movement (Spring 1975); in the Spring of 1976, I was apparently also the first in the nation to offer a college-level
course focusing on the John F. Kennedy assassination inquiry; in fact, in December of 1977 I participated in an American
Historical Association meeting in Dallas, Texas, focusing on the use of the Kennedy assassination topic as a teaching
tool in history. Shortly thereafter, I also introduced a course dealing with the Vietnam War; which to
this day, to my knowledge, has been the only course offered in my department dealing with that vital
topic. Frankly, I introduced that course because it was obvious to me that the nation was being taught
the wrong lessons regarding our involvement in that costly and misguided adventure by individuals who were growing in popularity
by capitalizing on the country's frustration and confusion. I have in mind especially those, such as R. W. Reagan and
disciples, who insisted that the lesson to be learned was that the U.S. needed to use overwhelming and preemptive
force (extra-constitutional & "off-the-shelf" if need be) and that the war, rather than having been a tragic mistake
for America and especially for Southeast Asia, was a "noble cause" betrayed by "wimpish" leaders
(I told students at the time one could call the
effort noble but it was not, in my judgment, a
noble cause, as President Reagan et al. were fond
of saying.). To bring the record up to date:
Bush & John McCain
are the most prominent recent examples of this
misreading of history. Incidentally, while at Texas A&M University (1966-68) I taught the only course then available there dealing with Modern
East Asia, which was a minor field of study for me. It's
worth noting that
"Aggies" took considerable pride in
pointing out that the school produced more officers for the Vietnam War than any other institution.
Another timely topic I offered at Washington
State University concerned the origins and meaning of that reactionary right-wing persuasion
too often loosely & carelessly labeled "McCarthyism," a subject that soon broadened to encompass the origin and meaning
of right-wing extremism in American society.
Appropriate for Edward R. Murrow's alma mater.
These classes were offered--along with a number of others in American studies & within the history department-- in
addition to a field course called the Rise of Modern America and another dealing with American Constitutional History.
These classes were also accompanied by what I always considered the most important courses I taught in the
W.S.U. history program--the broad lower division, introductory U.S. history survey course.
The subject matter of all these courses was always secondary to my purpose of involving students directly
and actively in the study of history (testified to by the fact that I chose not to make them over into large lecture courses,
although the potential was clearly there). Early on, I became a convert to inquiry learning while conducting a teaching
methods course for the department and the college of education, bucking the
huge wave carrying most universities ever more
so toward passive learning, large & impersonal classes, coupled with teaching methods best and most kindly described
as a passive telling technique.
In addition to a long list of book reviews, review essays, journal articles, and multiple
encyclopedia entries for various works, I have published Kansas Populism: Ideas and Men (Lawrence: University
Press of Kansas, 1969); Populism: The Humane Preference in America, 1890-1900 (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1991),
and Congressional Populism and the Crisis of the 1890s
(Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998);
A COMMON HUMANITY: KANSAS POPULISM AND THE BATTLE
FOR JUSTICE AND EQUALITY, 1854-1903
(Manhattan, Kansas: Sunflower University Press,
August 2004). Excerpts from all--or nearly all-- the reviews
of all these books will appear on page two of this site: To access those click on reviews on the
UNFORTUNATELY, SUNFLOWER UNIVERSITY PRESS
CLOSED ITS DOORS ON NOVEMBER 1, 2004, at about the
same time this last study came off the press.
According to the editor they were proud to have
this study be their last...small consolation. I'm currently trying
to line up another distributor for this new work. Anyone
interested in ordering a copy can start by
contacting me via my e-mail address noted below.
Update: At the moment it would appear that I
(the author) will likely become the distributor of
this book. Please contact me at
information & orders; you can also reach me by
writing to the Department of History, Washington
State University, Pullman, WA 99163. My
address as of Feb. 21, 2006, will be in Pullman, Washington. My telephone will be
(509) 339-3013. The book was priced at $24.95
but can be purchased direct from the author for
discounts will be granted multiple copies for
Historians, political scientists, interested
scholars generally, who might possibly have an
interest in adopting the work for classroom use
will be provided with a free desk copy for
consideration. Just contact me at email@example.com
Selected for membership in the national honor society in history, political science, and in education, my three
main areas of study at the collegiate level. Two of my books were nominated for awards: namely,
KANSAS POPULISM for the Frederick Jackson Turner Award and CONGRESSIONAL POPULISM AND THE CRISIS OF THE
1890s for the Theodore Saloutos Memorial Award. And in the late 1970s I was honored to be singled
out by my peers as one of the more innovative teachers at Washington State University.
It was also my honor to have been selected
to participate in Stanford University's special
summer seminar dealing with
Technology and American Society, conducted by
Professor Barton Bernstein in 1979. Over
the course of my career I was also the recipient of
one major research grant (1972) and four
research leaves (1975, 1982. 1989, and 1995).
I should add, back in the mid-60s, I was privileged
to be given by the University of Kansas an instructorship during my final &
fourth year as a doctoral student: It was a rare
honor in those days. I in fact taught the
20th Century U.S. history course during that period of
time. At Texas A&M I was also honored to be
given a chance to teach the History of the New
South. Quite a rare assignment for a damn
Yankee from Kansas. I also taught the only
course offered at Texas A&M University, at that
time, dealing with Asian history. As
indicated above let's
recall also that Texas A&M turned out more officers
for the Vietnam War than any other institution.
Sad to say, no formal awards, other than pro forma research
grants, etc. I must be too much of a
dilettante (perhaps I should have said generalist)? combined with the fact that I ruffled too many
important feathers. The honors & rewards that I've
cherished most have come from former students.
Just this morning (Feb. 7, 05) I received an e-mail
from one of Washington State University's outstanding Ph.D. products
who wrote: "What a wonderful surprise to hear
from you! No one during my college career
influenced my understanding of U.S. history more
than you, nor provided me with the intellectual
challenges that you did in your classes. I
referred often during my teaching years to the
notes that I took in your classes and to the
handouts you provided. I'm honored that you
remember me, and so grateful that you wrote."
To someone who cares deeply about teaching history,
those words mean more to me than any formal award I
might have received over the years.
Excuse me for beating my own drum: I have
the honor of having taught the first class at W.S.U.
focusing on the history of the women's movement,
several years in advance of the creation of a
women's studies program. Ironically, it's the
one claimed by the Honors Program in behalf of that
distinction, for whom I later taught the same
Perhaps this is also worth adding: During
my 29-year tenure at W.S.U. I really only had
determinative influence in the hiring of one of my
departmental colleagues. As luck would have
it, that person has been fabulously successful and
was only recently appointed "Regents Professor."
INTERESTS, other than a passionate commitment to the
campaign to take back our government from the radical
and/or reactionary conservative forces presently in
When I'm not trying to play a decent game of golf (truly
a failing enterprise), I may
be found cruising the great Pacific Northwest in my 1967
140, Sky Raider ultralight, or my Honda Shadow, playing my tenor saxophone, working out at the W.S.U.
student recreational center at 5:30 AM, MWF, or simply watching the Bush
administration self destruct. Lately the
Bush self-destructing activities have begun to assume
considerable time. Unfortunately, the
self-destructing I am most concerned with now has
extended to the nation as a whole since the Bush
administration has assured itself of four more years.
Why saxophones? As one cool cat said, "It's a hot, cold, shy, bold, rock, blue soul [of an instrument].
It makes an old man young, and a young girl old. It's a hip style, calm, wild blast, cast from the chains of slaves.
I've found my Jazz, I've found my Jazz, and was saved."
(I abandoned the saxophone about 1952, after
graduating from high school).
My all-time favorite saxophonist is Ben
Lately I've learned to appreciate Lester Young,
Benny Carter, Gene Ammons, Stan Getz,
Scott Hamilton, Wayne Shorter, & Ricky Ford.
WOW! Gene Clanton makes a discovery
(Oct. 1997) in the
Tombstone, Arizona., Boot-hill cemetery: Final resting place
of the Kansas Kid!