L316Z The Forgotten Founders
Mondays, 11:50—1:15, May 1—May 15
Instructor: Heather Dudley
May. 1: Gouverneur Morris: The Wildman of the Revolution. Gouverneur Morris spoke more than any other delegate at the Constitutional Convention and was the one who actually shaped the Constitution into its finished form. Along with his partner Robert Morris, he helped figure out how a country with no treasury or taxing power could fight a war. He was also the only foreign diplomat to remain in Paris throughout the Reign of Terror. These are just a few of the highlights of an extraordinary life! Theodore Roosevelt wrote of Morris in his 1888 biography that “there has never been an American statesman of keener intellect or more brilliant genius. Had he possessed but a little more steadiness and self-control he would have stood among the two or three very foremost.”
May 8: Richard Henry Lee: The Lee Everyone Should Know. Thomas Jefferson gets credit for the Declaration of Independence, but Richard Henry Lee was the delegate who introduced the Resolution for Independence to Congress. James Madison pushed the Bill of Rights through Congress, but Lee is the one who introduced the first draft of those amendments. The slapstick portrayal of Lee in the musical 1776 did him a great disservice, for he was a powerfully effective statesman.
May 15: Roger Sherman: From Shoemaker to Statesman. Unlike most of the famous founders, Roger Sherman did not come from wealth and received no formal education. Yet he was the only person to sign all four of the great state papers of the United States: the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution. Jefferson is credited with writing the Declaration of Independence, but Sherman was on the committee that was formed to write the document. He was also one of the major figures at the constitutional convention. Among other accomplishments at the convention, he introduced and fought for the compromise that gave us our Congress as it is structured today: equality in the Senate, and representation based on population in the House.
Heather Dudley taught at the high school and college level. She has an MA in History, an MA in Psychology, and a Doctorate from Georgetown University. She writes a blog—charactermattered.org—and is the author of a book on the founders: The Free and the Virtuous: Why the Founders Knew that Character Mattered.