The American Founders and Their World

Throughout this year, my program at Stanford has been celebrating its 20th anniversary, and we’ve put together some special courses for the occasion. This spring, we offered a class featuring some of the finest American historians in the country, and together, they looked back at “The American Founders and Their World.” (Get it free on iTunes here; sorry that it’s not also available via other means.) Directed by Jack Rakove (the Stanford historian who won the Pulitzer Prize for his book Original Meanings), this short course brought to campus Gordon Wood (who received the Pulitzer Prize for The Radicalism of the American Revolution); Annette Gordon-Reed (who won the National Book Award for The Hemingses of Monticello); and Alan Taylor, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning William Cooper’s Town.

You can find this course listed in our large collection of Free University Courses, and below I have included a fuller course description that ran in our catalogues. Enjoy learning more about Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Washington, the Federalists, anti-Federalists and the rest:

By all accounts, popular interest in the American Revolutionary era has never been higher. Books on Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, and other founders roll off the presses, make the bestseller lists, and provide clear evidence that Americans remain deeply fascinated by the remarkable generation that secured independence, formed a national union, created the first modern system of political parties—and espoused ideals of liberty and equality while maintaining a system of racial slavery.

How should we think about the Founders and their legacy? How can we account for the emergence of this group of leaders in the provincial isolation of 18th-century British North America? To answer these questions, Continuing Studies invited Jack Rakove, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and W.R. Coe Professor of History and American Studies at Stanford, to recruit an “A Team” of fellow scholars from across the country to discuss the individual lives and collective acts that turned the thirteen colonies into a national republic. Presenters will not lecture formally; instead, in each class meeting Professor Rakove will engage in conversation with his guests to explore their subject in dialogue.

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