December 17, 2018

Author and Historian Mary Sarah Bilder Challenges Traditional Views on How James Madison Shaped the U.S. Constitution, Jan. 31

Part of Museum’s Popular “Read the Revolution” Speaker Series

James Madison, hailed as the “Father of the Constitution,” wrote copious notes during the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Those notes have been considered a fundamental authority on the Constitution’s creation. But how reliable is Madison’s account?

In her recent book, Madison's Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention, author and historian Mary Sarah Bilder conducts an unprecedented investigation of the revisions Madison made to his notes for later publication. At the Museum of the American Revolution on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, at 6 p.m., she will discuss the significant ways in which his changes have altered our understanding of the Constitutional Convention and how those changes may have been driven by Madison’s personal and political views. The event is part of the Museum’s popular Read the Revolution Speaker Series.

During her discussion, Bilder will explore how Madison’s revisions changed allegiances and depictions of people like Alexander Hamilton in the years after American independence was established.

“[A] superb study of the Constitutional Convention as selectively reflected in Madison’s voluminous notes on it… It will be impossible to view Madison’s role at the convention and read his Notes in the same uncomplicated way again…An accessible and brilliant rethinking of a crucial moment in American history.” ― Wall Street Journal

Madison’s Hand (Harvard University Press, 2017) was awarded the 2016 Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy and the James C. Bradford Prize for Biography from the Society for Historians of the Early Republic. It was named a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize. 

Mary Sarah Bilder, Founders Professor of Law at Boston College Law School, teaches in the areas of property, trusts and estates, and American legal and constitutional history. She also is the author of The Transatlantic Constitution: Colonial Legal Culture and the Empire (Harvard University Press, 2004), awarded the Littleton-Griswold Award from the American Historical Association. Bilder received her B.A. with Honors (English) and the Dean’s Prize from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, her J.D. (magna cum laude) from Harvard Law School, and her A.M. (History) and Ph.D. from Harvard University in the History of American Civilization/American Studies.

The Museum’s Read the Revolution Speaker Series brings celebrated authors and historians to the Museum for lively discussions of their work. The inaugural 2017-18 season of the series was completely sold out. The series is based on the Museum’s national Read the Revolution bi-monthly e-newsletter, which has nearly 50,000 subscribers and features excerpts from thought-provoking books to inspire learning about the American Revolution.

Other events in the series include:

Tickets are $15 for Museum members, $20 for non-members, and $10 for students (does not include Museum admission). For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

About Museum of the American Revolution
The Museum of the American Revolution explores the dramatic, surprising story of the American Revolution through its unmatched collection of Revolutionary-era weapons, personal items, documents, and works of art. Immersive galleries, powerful theater experiences, and digital touchscreens bring to life the diverse array of people who created a new nation against incredible odds. Visitors gain a deeper appreciation for how this nation came to be and feel inspired to consider their role in the ongoing promise of the American Revolution. Located just steps away from Independence Hall, the Museum serves as a portal to the region’s many Revolutionary sites, sparking interest, providing context, and encouraging exploration. The Museum, which opened on April 19, 2017, is a private, non-profit, and non-partisan organization. For more information, visit www.AmRevMuseum.org or call 877.740.1776.