CONSTITUTION 101: THE MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE CONSTITUTION- Lecture 10

The Recovery Of The Constitution by Stephen Zierak This lesson is taught by Dr. Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale College since 2000.  Dr. Arnn is also a Professor of Politics and History at Hillsdale, and teaches courses on Aristotle, Winston Churchill, and the American Constitution.  He is on the board of directors of both the Heritage Foundation and the Claremont Institute.  Dr. Arnn received his BA from Arkansas State University, and his MA and PhD from Claremont Graduate School.   This is the final lesson of the series.  The entire series is available on the internet at Constitution.Hillsdale.edu.  There is no fee.  Along with a video of each lecture, you will find supplementary reading materials and e-mail Q&A.  Experiencing all this material for yourselves is well worth your time.  If we don’t fully understand the nature of the Constitutional crisis, American exceptionalism must be forfeit to our lack of necessary action for Constitutional restoration.   After far too many years of FDR, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson, Ronald Reagan gave his all for Barry Goldwater’s 1964 campaign for President.  In October, Reagan addressed the people of America in one of his finest televised speeches, A Time For Choosing.  He ended with this:  “We can preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we can sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness.  If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here.  We did all that could be done.”   Reagan understood that the system established by the...

CONSTITUTION 101: THE MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE CONSTITUTION- Lecture 9

The Progressive Rejection Of The Founding by Stephen Zierak This lesson is taught by Dr. Ronald Pestritto, Associate Professor of Politics and Dean of the Graduate School of Statesmanship at Hillsdale College.  Dr. Pestritto is a senior fellow at Hillsdale’s Kirby Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship.  He teaches courses in American politics and political philosophy.  Dr. Pestritto is also a senior fellow at Claremont Institute and an academic fellow of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.  He has published extensively, both books and articles, particularly concerning his main focus on the political thought of the progressives.  He received his BA from Claremont McKenna College, and his MA and PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University.  This lecture was posted on the internet April 16, and those interested may register at Constitution.Hillsdale.edu.  There is no fee.  The final lecture in this series will be  The Recovery Of The Constitution, taught by Dr. Larry Arnn, and available next Monday, April 23.   Man is endowed with pre-political, unalienable, equal natural rights, universal at all times and in all places, and the main purpose of government is to secure these rights for the benefit of all individuals in the polity.  Or man has no rights save those granted by the government, and the main purpose of the government is to solve social problems in ways that will differ in varying  historical contexts and places.  If you accept the former formulation, you align with the founders and Jefferson’s Declaration.  If you accept the latter formulation, you align with the progressives and reject our founding principles.  Is man primarily an individual, and only...

CONSTITUTION 101: THE MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE CONSTITUTION- Lesson 8

Abraham Lincoln And The Constitution by Stephen Zierak   This lesson is taught by Dr. Kevin Portteus, Assistant Professor of Politics at Hillsdale College.  He is also the faculty advisor for the Washington-Hillsdale Internship Program.  Dr. Portteus teaches courses in American political thought and American political institutions.  He received his BA from Ashland College, and his MA and PhD in Politics from the University of Dallas.  This lecture was posted on the internet April 9, and those interested may register at Constitution.Hillsdale.edu.  There is no fee.  There will be two more lessons, available weekly on Mondays.   A discussion dealing with all aspects of Abraham Lincoln’s views on the Constitution could fill the better part of a semester-long course.  Habeas corpus, war powers, emancipation:  all these would be up for consideration.  However, this lecture deals with the central question that Lincoln was required to answer.  Did the southern states have a Constitutional right to secede from the Union?   Lincoln cannot be properly understood without recognition of his view that the Constitution was always meant to fulfill the principles established in the Declaration of Independence.  An unpublished diary entry helped him crystallize his thoughts:  “All this is not the result of accident.  It has a philosophical cause.  Without the Constitution and the Union, we could not have attained the result; but even these are not the primary cause of our great prosperity.  There is something back of these, entwining itself more closely about the human heart.  That something is the principle of ‘liberty to all’—the principle that clears the path for all—gives hope to all—and, by consequence, enterprise and...

CONSTITUTION 101: THE MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE CONSTITUTION- Lecture 7

Crisis Of Constitutional Government by Stephen Zierak   This lesson is taught by Dr. Will Morrisey, Associate Professor of Politics at Hillsdale College.  Since 2000, he has instructed Hillsdale students in American politics, political philosophy, and comparative government.  Dr. Morrisey has published eight books on statesmanship and political philosophy, and he writes regularly for major newspapers and professional journals.  He has served since 1979 as editor of “Interpretation:  A Journal Of Political Philosophy.”  Dr. Morrisey earned his BA from Kenyon College and his PhD in political science from New School University.  This lecture was posted on the internet April 2, and those interested may register at Constitution.Hillsdale.edu.  There is no fee.  There will be three more lessons, available weekly on Mondays.   In January, 1820, Congress passed two bills that, together, became known as the Missouri Compromise.  Maine was admitted to the Union as a free state.  Missouri was admitted as a slave state, although slavery would be prohibited north of a 36-30 line (southern border of Missouri) in the western territories of the Louisiana Purchase—Missouri would be an exception to the line.   Thomas Jefferson in a 4/22/1820 letter to John Holmes had this to say:  “…but this momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror.  I considered it at once as the knell of the Union.  It is hushed indeed for the moment, but this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence.  A geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated, and...

CONSTITUTION 101: THE MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE CONSTITUTION- Lecture 4

The Separation Of Powers—Preventing Tyranny by Stephen Zierak This lesson is taught by Dr. Kevin Portteus, Assistant Professor of Politics at Hillsdale College.  He is also the faculty advisor for the Washington-Hillsdale Internship Program.  Dr. Portteus teaches courses in American political thought and American political institutions.  He received his BA from Ashland College, and his MA and PhD in Politics from the University of Dallas.  This lecture was posted on the internet March 12, and those interested may register at Constitution.Hillsdale.edu.  There is no fee.  There will be six more lessons, available weekly on Mondays.   Our founders had a clear-eyed view of unchanging human nature.  On the one hand, there are many positive aspects to our characters.  We can be rational, productive, benevolent, loyal….All the important virtues.  More than any other form of government, a republic presupposes a higher degree of the good in us.  On the other hand, people are indeed often moved by ambition, greed, and sometimes even irrationality.  Human nature is a mix of the good and the bad, and our founders understood the opportunities and challenges of governance presented by who we are.   If we are incapable of the good, if we are incapable of governing our selves, then we would be incapable of political self government.  In that case, the only way to prevent anarchy would be to establish a strong, authoritarian state.  Our founders believed we are capable of good, and that the main problem in designing a constitutional government is to find ways to support the good in us, while checking the bad.   Our founders did not believe that...