Jack Rakove: Historian Tells How to "Live with Founders"

Historians in the News

U.S. citizens live with the Founding Fathers in a distinct and unique way, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian told a BYU audience Monday.

"To live with the Founding Fathers, in a historical sense, is to try to live with ambiguity, because a documentary record is always incomplete," said Jack Rakove, a professor of political science at Stanford and 1997 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for history."History is a dynamic process."

Rakove spoke in the JSB auditorium on"Living With the Founders" as part of BYU's observance of Constitution Week.

"As a historian, I live with the founders on a daily basis," he said." . . .[There are] scores and scores of volumes . . . on the big six: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington."

Looking at the Founding Fathers' original intent during a constitutional debate is also a way to live with the founders, he said, noting that our nation continually comes back to the Constitution for answers during such a discussion.

Having three branches of government frequently leads debates back to the Constitution, he said. Psychologically, people naturally prefer to see decisions made by the branch of government where their positions have the best chance of prevailing, and"The whole system is a messy distribution of authority."

Read entire article at http://nn.byu.edu

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