Richard Beeman, Professor of History, will discuss "The Founding Fathers and the myth of the 'original meaning' of the Constitution." This presentation, an outgrowth of Dr. Beeman's recent book Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution, is a rumination on what the Founding Fathers would have had to say about many of the constitutional controversies currently confronting the United States Supreme Court and Congress. The men who drafted the Constitution, Dr. Beeman argues, would have been mystified, perhaps even enraged, by current attempts by jurists such as Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas to impose on subsequent generations a narrow and legalistic standard of consitutional interpretation. 6-minute video of appearance of Dr. Beeman on The Daily Show
Dr. Beeman has been on the faculty of the Department of History at Penn for forty-one years. He is an historian of the American Revolutionary Era and has written six books and several dozen articles on aspects of America's political and constitutional history in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Professor Beeman has served as Chair of the Department of History and as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He has received numerous awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and the Huntington Library. He has served as a Fulbright Professor in the United Kingdom and as Vyvian Harmsworth Distinguished Professor of American History at Oxford University.
The lecture is at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 15, 2010, in the College Hall Auditorium, Room 200. A reception will follow the lecture.