On Thursday, September 17, the Center for the Study of Democracy sponsored a lecture on Constitution Day. Constitution Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the creation of the Constitution of the United States, was first federally recognized in 2004. The lecture was given by David O. Stewart, author of the bestseller The Summer of 1787, The Men Who Invented the Constitution.
Professor Michael Cain prefaced the lecture by discussing what Constitution Day is and why a United States Constitution was so necessary. He also talked about the Center for the Study of Democracy and its upcoming programs and explained that Stewart’s book focuses on the events that occurred during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which resulted in the Constitution that we have today.
By the time David O. Stewart began his lecture on the men who framed the United States Constitution, Cole Cinema was filled to capacity with students and members of the community.
Stewart began the lecture by describing the problems that existed in the United States before the creation of the Constitution, describing why the Constitution was so essential to the longevity of the country. The pre-Constitution United States had numerous issues, from a lack of a common currency to interstate fighting and rebellions throughout the East coast.
Stewart himself said that he “was very surprised by the impact that slavery had on how the Constitution was constructed, that it was such a large factor.”
The focal point of Stewart’s lecture was his assertion that of the fifty-five delegates who participated in the Constitutional Convention, there were six whose contributions to the Constitution were clearly identifiable and significant.
The six men included well-known politicians like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and James Madison, but also included some like John Rutledge, James Wilson and Governor Morris. Rutledge was on a number of committees that designed many aspects of the Constitution, while Wilson came up with the 3/5th Compromise and the Electoral College. Governor Morris gave the first abolitionist speech in American history after the 3/5th Compromise was discussed and eventually wrote the final version of the Constitution which is in use today.
Sophomore Samantha Rockler said that “he really made [The Framers of the Constitution] sound like real people with real personalities, like more than just these mythical figures from history.”
Stewart ended by explaining that none of the delegates got exactly what they wanted, but that through compromise they were able to construct a Constitution that other nations have modeled theirs after, and that it was those differences that helped form it into such a worthwhile document.
Stewart’s lecture was the first in a series that will be presented by the Center for the Study of Democracy. Next, the Center for the Study of Democracy will be presenting a lecture titled “Maryland’s Religious Tolerance: The Legends, the Myths, and Some Facts” on October 4, 2009.