This course focuses on the classical education of the American founders from childhood through college and on its relation to their understanding of government, with special attention to James Madison. The course begins with a reading of the works that Madison actually read, drawing on reports of his life at home and on records of his activity at the Robertson School in Virginia as well as on materials from Princeton. Thus students will have an opportunity to relive Madison’s classical educational experience.
Although the classical works will be read in translation, the professor will be prepared to comment on the Greek and Latin texts for students who have an interest in them. The course goes on to trace the influence of this education on Madison’s conception of the American situation before, during, and after the Convention of 1787; and it considers as well Jefferson and the antifederalists from the standpoint of their classical background.