Joseph J. Ellis On Organizing America After a Revolution

THU, JUN 11, 2015 (59:09)

To begin the 2015 Lowell Lecture Series on Revolutionary Boston, author and scholar Joseph J. Ellis will talk about his latest book, The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, the unexpected story of why the thirteen colonies, having just fought off the imposition of a distant centralized governing power, decided to subordinate themselves anew.

In 1776, thirteen American colonies declared themselves independent states that only temporarily joined forces in order to defeat the British. Once victorious, they planned to go their separate ways. The triumph of the American Revolution was neither an ideological nor a political guarantee that the colonies would relinquish their independence and accept the creation of a federal government with power over their autonomy as states.

The Quartet is the story of this second American founding and of the men most responsible—George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. These men, with the help of Robert Morris and Gouverneur Morris, shaped the contours of American history by diagnosing the systemic dysfunctions created by the Articles of Confederation, manipulating the political process to force the calling of the Constitutional Convention, conspiring to set the agenda in Philadelphia, orchestrating the debate in the state ratifying conventions, and, finally, drafting the Bill of Rights to assure state compliance with the constitutional settlement.

+ BIO: Joseph Ellis

Joseph John Ellis (born 1943) is a Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College who has written influential and award-winning histories on the founding generation of American presidents. His book Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation (2000) received the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2001.

He is the former dean of faculty at Mount Holyoke and also served as Acting President for part of 1984.

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