College of Arts and Sciences
Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)
Constitution, History, Framers, Founders, Constitutional Convention, Founding Fathers, American Constitution, U.S. Constitution, Historical Understanding, Historical Analysis, Colonies, Education, Colonial Education
Education | History
Chesterman, Kristopher W., "Historical Understanding in the U.S. Constitution" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4659.
How did the America’s Founding Fathers use historical knowledge to inform their actions and decisions that ultimately led to the creation of the Constitution? This dissertation begins to answer this question by providing context to the Framers’ education on both colonial and personal levels. Starting with exposure to historical content through learning Greek and Latin, this research explores the depth of historical knowledge possessed by the Founders and how they used that knowledge to explain their thoughts and ideas throughout the tumultuous years surrounding the American Revolutionary War. This aspect of the Constitution’s formation is overshadowed by the prominence of eighteenth-century political theory as part of Enlightenment philosophies that emerged during the same time. Historical analyses of the Constitution overlook the nuance of the Founders’ collective, and oftentimes shared, historical knowledge. Grounded in historical content, the Founders’ education gave them readily available examples to cite as references when discussing matters of policy and governance throughout the last half of the eighteenth century. Thus, this dissertation intends to present historical application to the repertoire of interpreting the formation of the Constitution in addition to the previously established scholarship of Enlightenment philosophy and emerging political theory of eighteenth-century America.