Craig Bruce Smith is an associate professor of history at National Defense University in the Joint Advanced Warfighting School (JAWS) in Norfolk, VA.
He authored American Honor: The Creation of the Nation’s Ideals during the Revolutionary Era and co-authored George Washington’s Lessons in Ethical Leadership.
Smith earned his PhD in American history from Brandeis University. Previously, he was an associate professor of military history at the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS), an assistant professor of history, and the director of the history program at William Woods University, and he has taught at additional colleges, including Tufts University.
He specializes in American Revolutionary and early American history, specifically focusing on George Washington, honor, ethics, war, the founders, transnational ideas, and national identity. In addition, he has broader interests in colonial America, the early republic, leadership, and early American cultural, intellectual, and political history.
American Honor: The Creation of the Nation's Ideals during the Revolutionary Era
American Honor tells the history of the Revolution through an ethical lens. It shows that a colonial ethical transformation caused and became inseparable from the American Revolution, creating a continuing moral ideology. This book centers on several generations of Americans who came of age before the Revolution and climbed to prominence during it. These founders are remembered for their contributions to American independence and the creation of a nation, but while they were forming this new republic, they reflected on the ethics of their deeds. They wanted the country to succeed, but not at the cost of honor or virtue. These two concepts were at the forefront of the American founders’ minds as they traveled the precarious road to independence.
American Honor traces the development of honor and virtue in the lives of people such as Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, and other individuals from the elite, middling and lower classes. It also incorporates groups that have historically been excluded from the discussion of honor, such as women and African Americans. Using a narrative writing style and a deep core investigation into members of these Revolutionary generations, this project traces extensive changes over time and analyzes how thought influenced action.
Praise for American Honor
"American Honor views the American Revolution through a new lens. By exploring honor as a concrete ideal rather than an abstract concept, it reveals the evolving sense of moral purpose that framed the nation's founding. An important read for anyone who wants a full understanding of the bonds of principle that joined revolutionary Americans in shared cause."
~ Joanne Freeman, Yale University, author of Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic
"In this conceptually daring and analytically original overview of the entire Revolutionary age, Smith explores the genesis of American political and ethical traditions and sheds important light on some of the oldest and most familiar themes in early American history."
~ Jason Opal, McGill University, author of Avenging the People: Andrew Jackson, The Rule of Law, and the American Nation
"Craig Bruce Smith unfolds a new dimension of the American Revolution with this engaging investigation of honor, virtue, and ethics. His study brings us to a closer and deeper understanding of what the signers of the Declaration of Independence meant when they mutually pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor."
~ David L. Preston, The Citadel, author of Braddock’s Defeat: The Battle of the Monongahela and the Road to Revolution
"In American Honor, Craig Bruce Smith deftly explores the values shared and promoted by the founders to secure republican government. Learned and insightful, this fine book freshly illuminates our national origins."
~ Alan Taylor, University of Virginia, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, author of American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804
A “fascinating” and “lucid account.”
~ Dominic Green, Spectator USA
"Smith’s work is likely to remain the principal study in its field and is highly recommended for an audience that enjoys an academic treatment of intellectual history."
~ Alec D. Rogers, review in the Journal of the American Revolution
"Smith has succeeded in writing an important book that revolutionary historians and anyone interested in the place of ethics in public life should read."
~ Mark Boonshoft, Norwich University, review in The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History
"I highly recommend American Honor for its novel and innovative thinking about the causes and ideology of the American Revolution...Smith offers thought-provoking conclusions to expand the thinking of both casual readers and well-informed scholars...the book offers insights which may be relevant in our current political situation which is experiencing ethical and virtuous challenges across many spectrums."
~ Gene Procknow, review in Researching the American Revolution
"Smith’s American Honor is a fascinating study of one of the forces that drives people and how such forces are fashioned...[it] is a breath of fresh air...American Honor is a worthy first book from a promising young scholar and a necessary text for readers seeking to enrich their understanding of the period."
~ Daniel N. Gullotta, Stanford University, review in University Bookman
Smith "has written that rarest of books: a history that is scholarly in its scope and methodology but inspiring in its tone."
~ Miles Smith, Regent University, review in The New Criterion
"American Honor is a highly original work that deals gracefully with difficult and often amorphous terms and that succeeds in reinvigorating debates on honor culture, inching us closer to a more holistic understanding of the American Revolution."
~ Jacqueline Beatty, York College of Pennsylvania, review in Journal of Southern History
"The Greatest Man in the World: A Global History of George Washington"
What did other countries think of George Washington? This project explores George Washington as a global figure during his own lifetime. It follows different nations’ changing perceptions of Washington from the French and Indian War through his death and apotheosis. Framing early America within a global history, this manuscript is the first to examine Washington as a world figure, rather than one that was exclusively American. It begins with the French and Indian War and his dubious emergence on the world scene, where the French cast him as an “assassin” and the British lamented his signing an article of surrender as “the most infamous [document] a British subject ever put his hand to.”
The manuscript traces Washington’s global ascent, whereby he was admired by Louis XVI for his humanity, Frederick the Great for his military skill, and George III for simply being “the greatest man in the world.” It advances that Washington, in turn, became a symbol beyond his own country and representative of universal concepts of humanity, liberty, and leadership.
"The Highest Standards: US Military Honor Codes from the Revolution to Today"
Starting with Benedict Arnold’s treason at West Point and concluding with the 2020 West Point cheating scandal, “The Highest Standards,” explores the role of honor codes in all branches of the American armed forces — from their start to the modern day. It will be the first book to collectively cover the ethics and honor codes of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, and even the Space Force.
"Securing Victory, 1782-1783"
Picking up after the Battle of Yorktown, "Securing Victory1782-1783," will examine the final years of the American Revolution in time for the 250th-anniversary commemorations. It focuses on the crucial but often forgotten events that preserved the United States and the revolution's ideals, including frontier fighting, the Newburgh Conspiracy, the Treaty of Paris, the Evacuation of New York, and the resignation of George Washington.
Talks and Conferences
Upcoming and recent
June 9, 2022
Feb. 19, 2022
George Washington Birthday Lecture, Greater Kansas City Chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution, Kansas City, Mo,
May 20, 2021
American’s Revolutionary Moment: New Approaches to the Continental Army (roundtable), Society for Military History Annual Meeting, Virtual
Feb. 20, 2021
“The Father of Many Countries: George Washington as an International Figure,” Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750-1850 Annual Conference, Virtual
Feb. 18, 2021
Jan. 20, 2021
Jan. 10, 2019
June 24, 2019
U.S. Naval War College
Dec. 16, 2020
Feb. 19, 2021
Bill of Rights Institute
Oct. 16, 2019
Virginia Museum of History & Culture
Sept. 6, 2018
David Library of the American Revolution
Washington and Lee University
March 29, 2014
Craig Bruce Smith © 2012