The Creation of the Constitution

July 22-24, 2015

 

This seminar recounts the challenging and creative process that resulted in the United States Constitution of 1787. The story begins with the perceived inadequacy of the Articles of Confederation and the struggle to convene the Philadelphia Convention. Its primary focus, however, will be on the theoretical and pragmatic battles that took place within the secret proceedings of the Constitutional Convention itself. Participants will explore how certain features of the Constitution - some of which may appear inexplicable or indefensible to our eyes - took shape. We will examine the compromises that were necessary to win the support of all the states and the ideas that were discarded along the way. Finally, the course concludes by providing a brief overview of the struggles to ratify the new Constitution and the states' demands for a bill of rights. 

Seminar Scholars

Dr. Howard L. Lubert was born and raised in Schenectady, New York, and attended Rutgers University, where he received his B.A., studied Political Science and English, and was a member of the Henry Rutgers Honors Program. After graduating from Rutgers he attended Duke University, where he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science, with a focus in political philosophy. He has held full-time teaching positions at Alma College and Rutgers. He came to James Madison University in fall, 1999 as an Assistant Professor of Political Science. Dr. Lubert has taught courses in American constitutional law, American political thought, political philosophy, federalism, race and politics, and politics and literature. He was the recipient of a 2004 National Endowment for the Humanities award for his ongoing study of federalism in the American Founding. His publications include essays on the political thought of James Otis and Thomas Hutchinson and Benjamin Franklin, as well as an essay on the New York State Constitution.  

 

Dr. Lynn Uzzell received her B.A. in speech communications at Black Hills State University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in politics at the University of Dallas.  She has taught extensively on political philosophy, rhetoric, the United States Constitution, and American political thought at Baylor University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Richmond.  She specializes in the Constitutional Convention of 1787.  She is currently the Scholar in Residence at the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution and is acting as Project Coordinator for “James Madison: Lessons in Leadership and Life,” a 3-year collaborative project partnering the Center for the Constitution, the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania, and the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.  She is also currently adjunct faculty at James Madison University and Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Fox Program at the University of Pennsylvania.