Atlanta History Center Lecture
May 31 2016 - 8:00pm
From Pulitzer Prize–winning American historian Joseph J. Ellis, the unexpected story of why the 13 colonies, having just fought off the imposition of a distant centralized governing power, would decide to subordinate themselves anew.
While the famous opening phrase of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address reads, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this Continent a new Nation,” the truth is different. In 1776, the American colonies declared themselves independent states that only temporarily joined forces in order to defeat the British. Once victorious, they planned to go their separate ways.
The Quartet is the story of this second American founding and of the men most responsible — George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. With the help of Robert Morris and Gouverneur Morris, they shaped the contours of American history by diagnosing the systemic dysfunctions created by the Articles of Confederation, manipulating the political process to force the calling of the Constitutional Convention, conspiring to set the agenda in Philadelphia, orchestrating the debate in the state ratifying conventions, and, finally, drafting the Bill of Rights to assure state compliance with the constitutional settlement.
The Quartet unmasks a myth, and in its place presents an even more compelling truth — one that lies at the heart of understanding the creation of the United States of America.
Joseph J. Ellis is one of the nation's leading scholars of American history. The author of nine books, Ellis was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation and won the National Book Award for American Sphinx, a biography of Thomas Jefferson. His in-depth chronicle of the life of our first President, His Excellency: George Washington, was a New York Times bestseller. Ellis has taught in the Leadership Studies program at Williams College. He previously taught at the Honors College at the University of Massachusetts, Mount Holyoke College, and the United States Military Academy at West Point. He lives in Amherst, MA with his wife, Ellen Wilkins Ellis and three dogs. He is the father of three sons. (jasbro)