Search This Site

Founder's Day

John Ragosta, PhD, JD

Portrait of John RagostaJohn Ragosta, a historian at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, has taught law and history at the University of Virginia, George Washington University, and Oberlin, Hamilton, and Randolph Colleges. Mr. Ragosta has held fellowships at the Jack Miller Center at Colonial Williamsburg and the International Center for Jefferson Studies and is currently a fellow at Virginia Humanities. An award-winning author, he wrote Religious Freedom: Jefferson’s Legacy, America’s Creed, released in 2013 by the University of Virginia Press, and Wellspring of Liberty: How Virginia’s Religious Dissenters Helped to Win the American Revolution & Secured Religious Liberty, Oxford University Press 2010. His most recent book, Patrick Henry: Proclaiming a Revolution, was released by Routledge Press in 2016. He is co-editor of a forthcoming volume The Founding of Thomas Jefferson’s University (UVA Press, 2019). 

Mr. Ragosta is a frequent speaker and commentator, having appeared at, inter alia, Monticello, Poplar Forest, Colonial Williamsburg, the David Library of the American Revolution, Montpelier, and the Virginia Festival of the Book; his comments have appeared in the pages of the Washington Post, the Richmond Times Dispatch, and elsewhere.

Before returning to academia, Mr. Ragosta was an international trade and litigation partner at Dewey Ballantine LLP and was deeply involved in litigation before the World Trade Organization, NAFTA, and U.S. courts and agencies, and he frequently represented clients before Congress and administrative agencies.

Mr. Ragosta holds both a PhD (early American history) and a JD from the University of Virginia; he also received an MA from George Washington University (early American/U.S. legal) and a BS (Physics-Chemistry, Philosophy) from Grove City College. He is also a beekeeper.

Mr. Ragosta’s current research focuses on the crisis of union precipitated by the Alien & Sedition Acts and Jefferson’s and Madison’s response, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions. In 1799, fearing for the new republic, George Washington and Patrick Henry came out of retirement to challenge the radical states’ rights agenda of those Resolutions. The crisis seemed simply to evaporate with the death of both Henry and Washington in 1799 and Jefferson’s election to the presidency in the “Revolution of 1800.”