250 Years of American Politics (In Just a Few Hours)

What The Founding Fathers Were Really Like (and what we can still learn from them today)

Carol Berkin / Baruch College

Most of us know that America’s Founding Fathers attended the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia and drafted the Constitution of the United States. The delegates decided to replace the Articles of Confederation with a document that strengthened the federal government, with the most contentious issue being  legislative representation. Eventually, a compromise established the bicameral Congress to ensure both equal and proportional representation. But a lot more happened as well – much of it underreported or misunderstood. That’s the focus of this insider’s look at the birth of American Government as we know it today.

The fact is, the Founding Fathers were ambitious. Also grouchy, scared, and hopeful. They told jokes. They fought. They schemed. They gossiped. They improvised. Occasionally, they killed each other (sorry, Alexander Hamilton). Only by seeing the Founders as real people -not icons- can we appreciate the full story of the nation’s founding with all of its drama, humor, and significance intact.

Carol Berkin / Baruch College 
Carol Berkin is Presidential Professor of History at Baruch College and a member of the history faculty of the Graduate Center of CUNY. She has worked as a consultant on several PBS and History Channel documentaries, including, The “Scottsboro Boys,” which was nominated for an Academy Award. She has also appeared as a commentator on screen in the PBS series by Ric Burns, “New York,” the Middlemarch series “Benjamin Franklin” and “Alexander Hamilton” on PBS, and the MPH series, “The Founding Fathers.” She serves on the Board of The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Board of the National Council for History Education.

10:50 AM – 11:55 AM

When Congress Broke The First Time (And How That Led To Civil War)

Joanne Freeman / Yale University

So, you think Congress is dysfunctional? There was a time when it literally ran with blood — a time so polarized that politics generated a cycle of violence, in Congress and out of it, that led to the deadliest war in the nation’s history. This class uncovers the brawls, stabbings, pummelings and duel threats that occurred among United States congressmen during the decades just before the Civil War.

Distinguished Yale University history professor Joanne Freeman notes that the violence in Congress was often like a spectator sport. Men and women crowded the congressional galleries with the expectation of seeing entertaining outbreaks, much the way fans of professional wrestling or hockey do today. But often the fighting in Congress was far more than a sport. It was part of the ever-escalating tensions over slavery. Throughout much of the period, Southern congressmen were the aggressors, and Northerners, who at first disdained violence, were considered timid or cowardly. Over time, however, all that changed, and the North’s backbone stiffened quite a bit. Like other One Day University historical classes, this one casts fresh light on the period it examines while leading us to think about our own time. There truly are explicit comparisons between then and now. A crippled Congress. Opposing political sides that don’t communicate meaningfully with each other. A seemingly unbridgeable cultural divide. Sound familiar?

Joanne Freeman / Yale University 
Joanne B. Freeman, an award-winning professor of history and American studies at Yale University, is one of the nation’s leading experts on “dirty nasty politics,” and the author of The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War. Freeman has commented on history and politics — past and present — on CNN, MSNBC, and NPR, and PBS, as well as in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Her award-winning history, Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic, was declared one of the year’s “Best Books” by The Atlantic magazine. A co-host of the popular history podcast BackStory, Freeman appears frequently in documentaries on PBS and the History Channel, appearing most recently in PBS’s Great Performances documentary “Hamilton’s America.” Her online course, The American Revolution, has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people in homes and classrooms around the world.

12:10 PM – 1:15 PM

The Changing Face of Politics: Approaching 2020

Sam Potolicchio / Georgetown University

Donald Trump’s election marked the most stunning political ascent in American history. Trump violated almost every rule of historical campaign practice and triumphed over both the Republican and Democratic establishments. Treated as an unserious joke just 18 months before his victory, Trump’s victory shocked the globe. Why were the pollsters so wrong about his prospects? What were the hidden factors that led to President Trump’s upset victory?

Trump’s early governance as President has been just as disruptive to the common conventions of the Presidency as were his unorthodox campaign methods. What does his governance mean for the future of Presidency? Will presidential elections change and adjust because of Trump’s success? Will this victory usher in a new paradigm of politics and new types of presidential aspirants? And if so, should we change the way we pick presidents?

Sam Potolicchio / Georgetown University 
Sam Potolicchio is Director of Global and Custom Education at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. He was named one of “America’s Best Professors” by the Princeton Review, and the Future Leader of American Higher Education by the Association of Colleges and Universities. He also serves as the Department Chairman and Distinguished Professor in Political and Social Communications at the School of Public Policy at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy. Professor Potolicchio is a visiting professor at NYU and an official lecturer at the Library of Congress for OWLC, an international leadership program of the United States Congress.











When: Sat., February 9, 2019 at 9:30 am - 1:15 pm
Where: New York Institute of Technology
1855 Broadway
212-261-1500
Price: $159
Buy tickets/get more info now
See other events in these categories:

What The Founding Fathers Were Really Like (and what we can still learn from them today)

Carol Berkin / Baruch College

Most of us know that America’s Founding Fathers attended the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia and drafted the Constitution of the United States. The delegates decided to replace the Articles of Confederation with a document that strengthened the federal government, with the most contentious issue being  legislative representation. Eventually, a compromise established the bicameral Congress to ensure both equal and proportional representation. But a lot more happened as well – much of it underreported or misunderstood. That’s the focus of this insider’s look at the birth of American Government as we know it today.

The fact is, the Founding Fathers were ambitious. Also grouchy, scared, and hopeful. They told jokes. They fought. They schemed. They gossiped. They improvised. Occasionally, they killed each other (sorry, Alexander Hamilton). Only by seeing the Founders as real people -not icons- can we appreciate the full story of the nation’s founding with all of its drama, humor, and significance intact.

Carol Berkin / Baruch College 
Carol Berkin is Presidential Professor of History at Baruch College and a member of the history faculty of the Graduate Center of CUNY. She has worked as a consultant on several PBS and History Channel documentaries, including, The “Scottsboro Boys,” which was nominated for an Academy Award. She has also appeared as a commentator on screen in the PBS series by Ric Burns, “New York,” the Middlemarch series “Benjamin Franklin” and “Alexander Hamilton” on PBS, and the MPH series, “The Founding Fathers.” She serves on the Board of The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Board of the National Council for History Education.

10:50 AM – 11:55 AM

When Congress Broke The First Time (And How That Led To Civil War)

Joanne Freeman / Yale University

So, you think Congress is dysfunctional? There was a time when it literally ran with blood — a time so polarized that politics generated a cycle of violence, in Congress and out of it, that led to the deadliest war in the nation’s history. This class uncovers the brawls, stabbings, pummelings and duel threats that occurred among United States congressmen during the decades just before the Civil War.

Distinguished Yale University history professor Joanne Freeman notes that the violence in Congress was often like a spectator sport. Men and women crowded the congressional galleries with the expectation of seeing entertaining outbreaks, much the way fans of professional wrestling or hockey do today. But often the fighting in Congress was far more than a sport. It was part of the ever-escalating tensions over slavery. Throughout much of the period, Southern congressmen were the aggressors, and Northerners, who at first disdained violence, were considered timid or cowardly. Over time, however, all that changed, and the North’s backbone stiffened quite a bit. Like other One Day University historical classes, this one casts fresh light on the period it examines while leading us to think about our own time. There truly are explicit comparisons between then and now. A crippled Congress. Opposing political sides that don’t communicate meaningfully with each other. A seemingly unbridgeable cultural divide. Sound familiar?

Joanne Freeman / Yale University 
Joanne B. Freeman, an award-winning professor of history and American studies at Yale University, is one of the nation’s leading experts on “dirty nasty politics,” and the author of The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War. Freeman has commented on history and politics — past and present — on CNN, MSNBC, and NPR, and PBS, as well as in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Her award-winning history, Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic, was declared one of the year’s “Best Books” by The Atlantic magazine. A co-host of the popular history podcast BackStory, Freeman appears frequently in documentaries on PBS and the History Channel, appearing most recently in PBS’s Great Performances documentary “Hamilton’s America.” Her online course, The American Revolution, has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people in homes and classrooms around the world.

12:10 PM – 1:15 PM

The Changing Face of Politics: Approaching 2020

Sam Potolicchio / Georgetown University

Donald Trump’s election marked the most stunning political ascent in American history. Trump violated almost every rule of historical campaign practice and triumphed over both the Republican and Democratic establishments. Treated as an unserious joke just 18 months before his victory, Trump’s victory shocked the globe. Why were the pollsters so wrong about his prospects? What were the hidden factors that led to President Trump’s upset victory?

Trump’s early governance as President has been just as disruptive to the common conventions of the Presidency as were his unorthodox campaign methods. What does his governance mean for the future of Presidency? Will presidential elections change and adjust because of Trump’s success? Will this victory usher in a new paradigm of politics and new types of presidential aspirants? And if so, should we change the way we pick presidents?

Sam Potolicchio / Georgetown University 
Sam Potolicchio is Director of Global and Custom Education at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. He was named one of “America’s Best Professors” by the Princeton Review, and the Future Leader of American Higher Education by the Association of Colleges and Universities. He also serves as the Department Chairman and Distinguished Professor in Political and Social Communications at the School of Public Policy at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy. Professor Potolicchio is a visiting professor at NYU and an official lecturer at the Library of Congress for OWLC, an international leadership program of the United States Congress.

Buy tickets/get more info now