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: Prof. Joseph Ellis
Professor Joseph J. Ellis is one of the nation’s leading scholars of American history. The author of eleven books, Ellis was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Founding Brothers: the Revolutionary Generation and won the National Book Award for American Sphinx, a biography of Thomas Jefferson. His essays and book reviews appear regularly in national publications, such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The New Republic, and The New Yorker. His commentaries have been featured on CBS, CSPAN, CNN, and the PBS’s The News Hour with Jim Lehrer and he has appeared in several PBS documentaries on early America. Professor Ellis has taught in the Leadership Studies program at Williams College, Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts, Mount Holyoke College, and United States Military Academy at West Point.