Originalist Papers, Part II

January 1788 to February 16, 1788

When Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court, the progressive left went ballistic that he selected an "originalist" justice to replace the most progressive member of the Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I would surmise that most leftists could not define "originalism" if asked, nor could most "conservatives." This is troubling. Originalism is based on the principle that the Constitution should be interpreted the way the founding generation insisted it would be interpreted at the time of ratification, not one hundred or two hundred years after some other justices on the Supreme Court wrapped their paws around it with dubious decisions.

This four part course is designed to make you familiar with the 100 most important public documents that favored ratification in 1787 and 1788, or in other words the real basis of originalism. Some of the Federalist Papers are included in the course, but you'll also hear from other important--perhaps more important than Hamilton, Madison, or Jay--members of the founding generation who supported ratificaiton and why. Several themes become apparent when going through this stack of speeches, pamphlets, and essays, but the most important is the primacy of the States in the system and the limited powers of the general government. There is some deviation to this narrative, even from men like Hamilton, but most agreed the Constitution was so limited in its delegated powers that other than commerce and defense, the people of the States would rarely notice the general government.

Part II of the course covers twenty five documents from January 1788 to February 16, 1788 and is in chronological order. Parts III and IV will follow the same format.

All essays covered in the lectures are included with an edited introduction for each selection.

Your Instructor


Brion McClanahan holds a Ph.D in American History from the University of South Carolina. He is the author or co-author of six books, including the #1 Amazon best selling 9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America and How Alexander Hamilton Screwed Up America.

Course Curriculum

  January 1788
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