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founders



  • What Conservative Justices Get Wrong About the Founders

    by Timothy C. Leech

    It's preposterous to argue that the Founders, men of the Enlightenment generation, would have intended for the constitution they drafted to be immutable and unchanging. 



  • Did George Washington Have an Enslaved Son?

    West Ford founded the freedmen's town of Gum Springs near Mount Vernon in 1833. Today a preservation effort to protect the town is tied to a bitter conflict with Mount Vernon over whether West Ford was also the unacknowledged son of George Washington. 



  • Were the Founders a Bunch of Wealthy Oligarchs?

    by Willard Sterne Randall

    Charles Beard's progressive-era analysis of the founding portrayed the Founders as men of wealth pursuing their own interests; we know the reality was more complicated. 


  • Patrick Henry and the Defense of Democracy

    by John A. Ragosta

    Patrick Henry has become a hero of the Tea Party and the January 6 insurrectionists. But his famous demand for liberty or death doesn't capture his personal commitments to liberty under the rule of law and acceptance of the outcomes of elections. 



  • The Changing Same of U.S. History

    by David Waldstreicher

    Historians have returned to the question of whether the Constitution is the problem or the solution with renewed vigor and high stakes. Those accusing ideological rivals of "doing politics, not history" are not innocent of the same charge. 



  • There’s a Very Good Reason ‘Washington Slept Here’

    by Nathaniel Philbrick

    "Today the phrase 'Washington slept here' is a historical joke, but during the two years of intermittent travel at the beginning of his presidency, all those nights spent in taverns and homes across the country were essential to establishing an enduring Union."



  • A Conflict Among the Founders Still Shapes the Infrastructure Debate

    by Susan Nagel

    "The lack of a clearly defined constitutional role for the federal government in funding infrastructure improvements left it to the men who had been competing to enrich themselves to figure out what role the national government ought to play."


  • America's First Peaceful (Just Barely!) Transfer of Power

    by Akhil Reed Amar

    While the selection of Thomas Jefferson as the third president in 1801 (after an electoral college deadlock) is touted as a crucial peaceful transfer of presidential power from one party to another, the transition was far more fraught with peril than most realize. 



  • The Year That Changed Everything

    by Akhil Reed Amar

    A legal historian and constitutional scholar considers the founding document in terms of the process of its founding. Neither cynical nor purely idealistic, the Constitution did submit to ratification by a broad vote, but pursued national security by institutionalizing the slave power. 



  • A Forgotten Black Founding Father

    by Danielle Allen

    The figure of Black abolitionist Prince Hall has been discussed for his advocacy for abolition in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but there remains a deeper work of historical reconstruction to understand his connections to family, community and civil society in the founding era. 



  • ‘George Washington’ Review: Our Founding Politician

    David Stewart's new book on George Washington highlights his political skills and careful work at cultivating allies. Far from being an apolitical leader, Washington was a skilled operator whose greatest achievement was avoiding the stigma of politics. 



  • The Founders Were Wrong About Democracy

    by David Frum

    The conservative commentator writes that the framers' concern with broad populist movements shouldn't overshadowing the greater damage done to democracy by a minority faction that controls key institutions and follows its own fickle self-interest.


  • The Constitution Forbids a Post-Presidential Impeachment Trial

    by William G. Hyland, Jr.

    A biographer of George Mason argues that, by the text and original intent of the Constitutional impeachment power, Donald Trump's exposure to trial ended when he left office and the Senate trial set to start on February 8 is unconstitutional.