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Eli Merritt Headshot 207 KB.jpg

Eli Merritt is a political historian at Vanderbilt University where he researches the ethics of democracy, the interface of demagogues and democracy, and the founding principles of the United States.

He is the editor of How to Save Democracy: Inspiration and Advice From 95 World Leaders as well as of The Curse of Demagogues: Lessons Learned from the Presidency of Donald J. Trump. His book Disunion Among Ourselves: The Perilous Politics of the American Revolution is scheduled for publication in June of 2022. 


He writes the Substack newsletter American Commonwealth

Dr. Merritt completed his B.A. in History at Yale; M.A. in Ethics at Yale, M.D. at Case Western Reserve; internal medicine internship at the Lahey Clinic; and psychiatry residency at Stanford.


He has written for the Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, New York Times, New York Daily News, USA Today, International Herald Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Nashville Tennessean, San Francisco Medicine Magazine, The Journal of the American Medical Association, The American Journal of Legal History, and numerous other publications. Read More 


At Vanderbilt he has served as a visiting scholar in three departments: The Department of History, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, and the Center For Biomedical Ethics and Society. At Yale he graduated with Magna Cum Laude with Distinctions in the Major and went on to publish an article that is a precursor of Disunion Among Ourselves. The article, “Sectional Conflict and Secret Compromise: The Mississippi River Question and the United States Constitution” (American Journal of Legal History), has been widely cited. 


In history, Dr. Merritt has received numerous grants and fellowships, including the Virginia Historical Society’s Mellon Research Fellowship and the North Caroliniana Society’s Archie K. Davis Fellowship as well as twice-awarded grants for archival research in Madrid and Seville from the Program for Cultural Cooperation Between Spain and the United States. Awards in medicine and psychiatry include the Humanism in Medicine Award and Family Systems Award from Case Western Reserve and the Gulevich Humanistic Medicine Award from Stanford.


Dr. Merritt has served on the Clinical Faculty in the Stanford Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Stanford Hospital’s Ethics Committee. He was president of the San Francisco Psychiatric Society and is the founder of a mental health consulting and care navigation practice that helps patients and families get connected to the best mental health care possible. Read More 


In medicine, psychiatry, and medical ethics, Dr. Merritt has written on diverse topics, including psychiatric diagnosis, insomnia and depression, addiction, suicide prevention, informed consent, and privacy issues in mental illness. He has taught medical students and resident physicians courses on psychiatric interviewing, ethical standards and boundary violations, causation in suicide, the placebo effect, hyperthyroidism, and medical decision-making, among other subjects. Read More


In history and politics, he has written on demagoguery, impeachment, the paradox of the Fourth of July, the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, the Mississippi River Crisis of 1786-87, North-South sectional conflict and compromise, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Martin Luther King. Read More


Dr. Merritt divides his time between San Francisco and Nashville.  

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