OSHR 1122 - American History - What Would the Founding Fathers Say?

  • Noncredit
  • Fort Collins

This course is offered through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Colorado State University. You must be a member of Osher to enroll in this course.

Today it is often argued that governing should be simple, because all one has to do is "follow the Constitution." While some Americans view the Constitution as the fixed, supreme law of the land, others believe that the Constitution was intended as a living, evolving document that should change with new circumstances. It’s a debate that plagued the Founding Fathers after the American Revolution and rages on today. This course will clarify what the founders had in mind as they moved from the Revolution of 1776 to the Constitution of 1787 to the resultant realities of governing as we embark on civil dialogue regarding the issues today.

Topics will include:

  • The road to Revolution and the Declaration of Independence 1763-1776
  • "The Critical Period" under our first form of government, the Articles of Confederation 1777-1787. Why were they abandoned?
  • The new Federal Constitution of 1787 - debates, provisions, and compromises. What were the intended functions of the three branches of government? How was each limited? How have they changed over time? Why was there no Bill of Rights in the original document?
  • What did the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments provide for?
  • How was the role of the Supreme Court changed forever in 1803?
  • Once the Constitution was adopted, what two competing views led to the formation of political parties - Federalists versus Republicans?
  • Early Constitutional confrontations

Readings: Morgan, Edmund S. with Foreword by Daniel Boorstin. The Birth of the Republic 1763-1789. University of Chicago Press, any edition. ISBN: 0226537579. Optional - Bowen, Catherine Drinker, Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention, May to September 1787. Little, Brown and Company, any edition. ISBN-13: 9780613034296.

Noncredit courses do not produce academic credit nor appear on a Colorado State University academic transcript.