What is the Constitution? Is it synonymous with the Bill of Rights? Or is the true value of the Constitution in the enduring institutional framework which it established? What historical ideas went into framing those institutions, and also our guarantees of rights? In this course, we will focus on James Madison's role in framing the Constitution, in order to examine the ideas that formed the common heritage of all of the Framers. We will see that two separate traditions of liberty (Liberal and Republican) were fused together in the Constitution. Then we will contemplate the changes in American society that occurred in the decades after the Constitution-- changes that placed one of those traditions at the center of America's self-understanding.
The class meets at 6:45 p.m. on Mondays at 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Suite 705.