This year marks the 130th anniversary of the beginning of the Constitutional Convention — and in the fall, Professor of History Paul Rahe and his students will take a closer look at the historic group.
Rahe is offering a new course called “The American Constitutional Convention” to track how the United States’ cornerstone document came into being.
“The idea is to go over the convention day by day, looking at its members’ deliberations,” Rahe said.
The course’s reading material will focus on the notes taken primarily by James Madison — and others — at the convention and will follow how what started as an attempt to amend the Articles of Confederation became a second revolution in American political thinking.
“They feel their way toward the solution to the problems,” Rahe said. “If you make one decision about the House of Representatives, you’re going to have to revisit your former thinking about the Senate.”
The course will also include the ratification debate discussed in the Federalist and Antifederalist papers as well as the writing from political thinkers like Montesquieu that colored many of the Founders’ ideas.
Rahe taught this class in 1987 — before he came to Hillsdale College — for the bicentennial of the Constitutional Convention. He said he is excited to offer it again, because of the unique situation in which the Founders found themselves.
“It’s probably the only occasion in human history when a group of people have gotten together and sorted out a question like this with pretty much complete freedom to decide,” he said.
The course will take place from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.