Conflict and Compromise: Hammering Out a Republic in Philadelphia

We. It’s a bold one-word assertion that gave legal birth to a nation. “We the People of the United States.” How did we get to this we? Tensions based on region, race and religion threatened hopes for “a more perfect union.” The delegates of the Constitutional Convention themselves were far from agreeing on the purpose and form of government. “We” excluded many voices: women, enslaved and free African-Americans, native peoples and religious minorities. Yet somehow, conflicts were (mostly) resolved, compromises reached and 13 independent states united into a single nation. That “somehow,” the process of hammering out a republic, will be the focus of our time in history-rich Philadelphia.

 

The Federal Pillars/Teaching American History.org

The Federal Pillars/Teaching American History.org

 

Guided visits to Independence Hall and the National Constitution Center will bring the summer of 1787 to life. We’ll stand in the room where delegates, sweltering behind doors and windows closed for secrecy, argued, debated, passed motions, found points of agreement and ultimately signed the Constitution. A walking tour will take us through the bustling Georgian streets of the colonial city where Benjamin Franklin had his printing press and Betsy Ross her upholstery shop. There will also be informal opportunities to soak in the atmosphere, such as during lunch at the reconstructed City Tavern, the official “local” of the delegates.

Bartram's Garden in Philadelphia

Bartram’s Garden/Jllm06 Wikimedia Commons

We’ll close our trip with visits to two famous Philadelphia landmarks. The imposing Eastern State Penitentiary, conceived by Franklin, was an early enforcer of solitary confinement—a treatment thought to encourage rehabilitation. The expansive grounds of Bartram’s Garden, the oldest botanical garden in North America, offer a much pleasanter sort of solitude. We’ll learn about the garden’s history and enjoy the brilliant colours of sugar maples, black gums and viburnums.

 

The Morris House Hotel, Philadelphia

The Morris House Hotel

Our home will be the lovely Morris House Hotel, built in 1787 and full of period details. Here we’ll gather in the sunlit library for discussions and presentations. On some occasions we’ll be joined by a constitutional scholar from the University of Pennsylvania who will share his own understanding of the accomplishments and failures of the 1770s and 1780s and the importance of the post-convention debates where so much was at stake: “large- vs. small-scale polities, complexity vs. simplicity, heterogeneity vs. homogeneity, novelty vs. tradition, individual vs. collective liberty, and whether government power and personal liberty are in zero-sum relationship to each other.”

For more information, see our detailed itinerary.

Overview

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Destination
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Dates
October 18–22, 2018


Readings
A selection of the nation’s foundational documents, along with works by voices often not heard in the process of creating the republic; these may include essays, private letters, diaries, news articles, etc.


Leader
Gary Schoepfel is a tutor at Harrison Middleton University, a former submarine sailor, a world traveller and retired VP of the Great Books Foundation. For Gary, “the rest of the story” is always a collection of history—bits that never made print, the other side, rumors and myths, partial truths and inconvenient facts. He can think of no better place than Philadelphia to see, hear and think about the rest of that story.


Accommodation
The Morris House

Fees
US$1,595–US$1,825 per person based on double occupancy (based on room category)
US$2,051–US$2,509 pp based on guaranteed single accommodation (based on room category)
US$125 taxes and gratuities per person

Fee includes guides, readings, accommodation, two meals a day, discussions, ground transportation, walking tours, talks, excursions, and admissions.


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