I just returned home after three days in Minneapolis. On Tuesday I gave a lecture on the U.S. Constitution to a few hundred students from the Minneapolis Public School District. Then the last two days I lectured to about 25 teachers from the district on the same topic. It was a great group to work with and they were very engaged with the subject matter. It was also good working with (and meeting) Brenda Robertson., former director of social studies for the state of South Dakota, and Anthony Napoli, director of education for the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History.
I divided my part of the workshop (morning lectures) into four units. They were, as advertised:
Lecture One: “The Crisis of the 1780s” (Part One)
This lecture will focus almost entirely on the development of state constitutions and the emergence of a democratic mentality that many of the founders deemed to be dangerous to the success of the republic.
Lecture Two: “The Crisis of the 1780s” (Part Two)
This lecture will deal largely with the need to reform the Articles of Confederation and the failure of the state governments to uphold the virtue necessary for the republic to survive. I will include material on the economic recession of the period, Shay’s rebellion, and the classical understanding of virtue that seemed to be eroding during this so-called “Critical Period”
Lecture Three: The Constitutional Convention
This lecture will discuss the forming of the CC Convention, the debates over representation, etc…, and, most importantly, a discussion about whether the Framers saw this as a “progressive” or “conservative” document.
Lecture Four: The Ratification Debates
This lecture will focus on the Federalists and the Anti-Federalist opposition. It will draw from some of the key Federalist papers and the writings of the Anti-Federalists.