Greetings one and all,
I spent the day at The National Constitution Center.
Carol Berkin, the author of A Brilliant Solution, one of the books I read in preparation of going on this excursion, spoke to us most of the morning. She is a humorous and engaging speaker. I could have listened to her for many more hours. She discussed the men who worked to construct the Constitution as living, breathing brilliant men rather than the larger-than-life personas that we’ve always read about…
[We interupt this blog with an important emergency message…the emergency alarm went off and we had to evacuate the building for about thirty minutes. The fire department arrived and we waited outside in our Philly Excursionist huddle. I’m on the 11th floor of a 25+ floor dormitory building. It wasn’t so bad going down, but the elevators here aren’t terribly efficient on a good day, so you can only imagine the congestion when we were allowed back in the building. Several of us took the stairs. Funny how it seems longer going up than down.]
Back to the day…Ms. Berkin. I’m looking forward to her new books about Civil War women and I need to get a hold of “Revolutionary Mothers”. I hadn’t made the connection about nations having birth myths, so when she mentioned Romulus and Remus and the story of Rome then compared it to the American Revolution stories, it made perfect sense. It’s evident that she thinks highly of Alexander Hamilton and I agree with her. I purchased a book about him in the Constitution Center bookstore. I like his words that summed up the process of writing the Constitution: Nobody got everything they wanted; no one got nothing; but everyone got someting. Speaking of Alexander Hamilton, here’s a picture of us hanging out together…
I liked her comment about the measure of a man’s wealth was his library and wine cellar. I’m comfortably well off then. 🙂
I’d never heard that these men considered democracy to mean mob rule by a group who had nothing invested, so they had nothing to lose. By the time I’d finished reading A Brilliant Solution, I certainly understood how truly worried these men were about America dissolving. I also understood how obsessed they were with the danger of power and that absolute power corrupts even the best of men, as Benjamin Franklin said. It was interesting to me that they’d studied the world’s governments since the earliest civilizations and that they believed every republic had failed, from Caesar to oligarchies to democratic societies. They wanted a republic. Until about a year ago, I’d never contemplated the difference between a democracy and a republic.
It’s amazing to me that these men were able to craft a document that was dynamic and fluid and has weathered the years in fine form.
Here are pictures from the room at the Constitution Center that has bronze (?) replicas of the men who worked that summer of 1787 to write the Constitution. The first one is Benjamin Franklin (sitting) and Gubernor Morris standing.
After lunch, we had another interesting talk from Eli Lesser, education coordinator at the Center. He gave us teacher resources for teaching the Constitution and civic education. Eli had a great sense of humor and I liked his explanation that since the Constitution Center is a non-collecting museum, you have to tell students they’re going to a museum to see nothing.
We also watched an interesting theatrical production in a “theater in the round” environment. It was called Freedom Rising and it covered America from the Revolutionary times to the present then we toured the exhibits.
I had trouble with my camera today, so I don’t have as many pictures as I’d planned, but here’s a picture from the second floor of the Center looking directly toward Independence Hall in the distance. Independence Hall is in the center at the bottom of the picture.
Now, here are the questions for today.
1. List the six Constitutional delegates who also signed the Declaration of Independence (they’re called double signers).
2. Which of the states was not represented at the signing of the Constitution?
3. How many total delegates came worked on crafting the Constitution during the summer of 1787? (not from each state, but altogether)
4. Did Samuel Adams, John Adams, and/or Thomas Jefferson participate in crafting the Constitution?
We didn’t go on the Haunted house tour tonight. We hope to catch it another night. We’ll spend tomorrow at the Franklin Institute learning about Benjamin Franklin, science, and the enlightenment. We’ll also have free time to spend browsing the Franklin Institute or we can take a trip to the Wagner Free Institute of Science to look at late Nineteenth Century memorabilia and artifacts.
Here’s what it looks like out my window at night.