Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Mifflinburg, Union County
Edel brings to light a rarely discussed defeat for the young U.S. military in Kekionga!: The Worst Defeat in the History of the U.S. Army.
Political scientist Wilbur Edel was born in 1915 in Yonkers. Educated at New York University and Columbia University, he served in the military and then taught American government for many years. He also served in various administrative capacities in two colleges. Upon his retirement in 1976, Edel published several books. Edel resides in Mifflinburg.
Wilbur Edel was born on March 27, 1915, in Yonkers, New York. He married his wife, Marie, on December 27, 1939. Edel then embarked on his education, earning a B.S. degree from New York University in 1942. Following graduation, Edel joined the United States Army, attaining the rank of staff sergeant as a cryptographer. Returning to New York in 1945, Edel enrolled at Columbia University, where he earned his A.M. in 1947 and his Ph.D. in 1951.
His academic career lasted some thirty years, beginning at the City College of the City University of New York, lecturing in American government from 1947 to 1960. He then entered administrative functions at Queens College until 1966 and at the State University of New York at Stony Brook from 1966 to 1968. He returned to a primarily teaching role at the Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York in 1968, serving as both a professor of political science and dead of administration until 1976 when he retired.
When asked about his writing by Contemporary Authors, Wilbur Edel said “retirement at age sixty-one was prompted by a desire to devote more time to research and writing than was possible as a college administrator in the turbulent 1960s, when I was on campus from morning to night, sometimes seven days a week. Except for an occasional article written for a professional journal, all of my writing has been done since my retirement.” Upon retirement as a professor emeritus of political science at the Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York, Edel moved to Mifflinburg, PA and has written several books.
Defenders of the Faith (1987) is described on the Greenwood Press website as “a survey of the often uneasy relationship between religion and public policy dating from the colonial period to the present.” A reviewer for Choice quoted on that same site says that “his treatment has made an original contribution to this issue...an exemplary piece of scholarship.”
In 1992, Edel published an unfavorable study of the presidency of Ronald Reagan, The Reagan Presidency: An Actor's Finest Performance. At one point in the book (page 308), Edel says that “Ronald Reagan was the greatest fraud who ever occupied the White House.” Though disagreeing with that premise, R.J. Saulnier wrote in Presidential Studies Quarterly “for those who share Professor Edel's views on Reagan and his presidency it can be reported that this book is probably as detailed and severe a presentation of the negative case as there is likely ever to be.” In 2004 Edel wrote to the Daily Item defending this negative case, saying that Reagan's “inability to distinguish between facts and fiction led him to view the country's history through an idyllic haze that bore little relation to reality.”
In 1995, Edel published a study of gun control: Gun Control: Threat to Liberty of Defense Against Anarchy? Jacob Sullum, writing in Reason takes him to task for dismissing the “individualist” interpretation of the second amendment.
Kekionga! (1997) briefly tells the story of the conflict over the “Ohio Country” in the earliest years of the Republic. To end the conflicts between Native Americans and white settlers in the Northwest Territory, President Washington ordered troops into the region. General Josiah Harmar led American troops to Kekionga, the site of present-day Fort Wayne, Indiana, to defeat the forces of Chief Little Turtle. On October 22, 1790, the Miami tribe defeated the United States Army in its first military engagement following the Revolutionary War. American forces were compelled to retreat to Fort Washington, modern-day Cincinnati. Four years later, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne (for whom Wayne County, Pennsylvania is named) dedicated a fort on the site, Fort Wayne, named for himself as the conqueror of the Indians in the Ohio Country. It also includes a political assessment of the structure of Native American societies. S.A. Underwood, writing in Military Review, pans the book for focusing too much on Indian relations and too little on the actual battle, saying it is “a tangential, rambling narrative of US-Indian affairs having little to do with the campaign or battle.”
Edel lives in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania.
The State Department, the Public, and the United Nations. New York: Vantage, 1979.
A Constitutional Convention: Threat or Challenge. New York: Praeger, 1981.
Defenders of the Faith: Religion and Politics from the Pilgrim Fathers to Ronald Reagan. New York: Praeger, 1987.
The Reagan Presidency: An Actor's Finest Performance. New York: Hippocrene, 1992.
Gun Control: Threat to Liberty of Defense Against Anarchy? Westport, CT: Praeger, 1995.
Kekionga!: The Worst Defeat in the History of the U.S. Army. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997.