Thursday, September 1, 2016

Thomas Jefferson's Democratic Constitutionalism: An ICH Seminar

[We hear that there are still some seats available for this seminar, so we are moving this up.  If you are interested, please sign up right away.]

The Institute for Constitutional History is pleased to announce another seminar for advanced graduate students and junior faculty, "Thomas Jefferson's Democratic Constitutionalism."

This seminar will survey Thomas Jefferson's career as a lawyer, statesman, and political and constitutional theorist.  We will explore Jefferson's thought about provincial and state as well as imperial and federal constitutions, with a particular focus on his evolving conceptions of natural rights and justice, citizenship, property rights, and slavery.  Assigned readings in primary documents will illuminate his collaboration and quarrels with fellow founders, including James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Marshall; selected secondary sources will introduce participants to the legal and constitutional history of the Early American Republic. 

The instructors are Annette Gordon-Reed, the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School, a professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, and the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and Peter S. Onuf, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Virginia and Senior Research Fellow at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies (Monticello).

The seminar will meet on September 30, October 14, October 21, and November 11; Fridays from 1-4 p.m.  The seminar will be held at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York City. There is no tuition or other charge for this seminar, though participants will be expected to acquire the assigned books on their own.

The seminar is designed for graduate students and junior faculty in history, political science, law, and related disciplines.  All participants will be expected to complete the assigned readings and participate in seminar discussions.  Although the Institute cannot offer academic credit directly for the seminar, students may be able to earn graduate credit through their home departments by completing an independent research project in conjunction with the seminar.  Please consult with your advisor and/or director of graduate studies about these possibilities.  Space is limited, so applicants should send a copy of their c.v. and a short statement on how this seminar will be useful to them in their research, teaching, or professional development.  Materials will be accepted only by email at until June 15, 2016. Successful applicants will be notified soon thereafter.  For further information, please contact Maeva Marcus at (202) 994-6562 or send an email to

The Institute for Constitutional History (ICH) is the nation's premier institute dedicated to ensuring that future generations of Americans understand the substance and historical development of the U.S. Constitution. Located at the New York Historical Society and the George Washington University Law School, the Institute is co-sponsored by the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the American Political Science Association.  The Association of American Law Schools is a cooperating entity.  ICH prepares junior scholars and college instructors to convey to their readers and students the important role the Constitution has played in shaping American society.  ICH also provides a national forum for the preparation and dissemination of humanistic, interdisciplinary scholarship on American constitutional history.

1 comment:

Shag from Brookline said...

I wonder if Mary Matalin will attend. She recently announced abandoning the Republican Party for the Libertarian Party, but will support Trump and not Clinton in 2016. Mary expressed her reliance upon the republicanism of Jefferson and Madison. Perhaps the seminar will address Jefferson's republicanism in contrast to his democratic constitutionalism. Note that Mary did not extend to Jackson's republicanism. I'm a little older than Mary and recall in my New Deal and subsequent days references to Jefferson/Jackson Day Democratic Party dinners.