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Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution

Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution

Professor Thomas L. Pangle, Ph.D.
The University of Texas at Austin

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Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution

Course No. 4878
Professor Thomas L. Pangle, Ph.D.
The University of Texas at Austin
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4.6 out of 5
127 Reviews
85% of reviewers would recommend this series
Course No. 4878
  • Audio or Video?
  • You should buy audio if you would enjoy the convenience of experiencing this course while driving, exercising, etc. While the video does contain visual elements, the professor presents the material in an engaging and clear manner, so the visuals are not necessary to understand the concepts. Additionally, the audio audience may refer to the accompanying course guidebook for names, works, and examples that are cited throughout the course.
  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. The video version is not heavily illustrated, featuring around 95 portraits, charts, and diagrams. Portraits include those of the key figures involved in the crafting of the Constitution, such as Patrick Henry, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and John Jay. There are also charts and diagrams that help you differentiate the political views of both Federalists and Anti-Federalists. There are on-screen spellings and definitions to help reinforce material for visual learners.
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Course Overview

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, ..."—U.S. Constitution

While those words were written over 200 years ago, recent years have seen an explosion of interest in and interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. Its authority and stature are routinely invoked by voices from every point on the political spectrum who seek to defend their views on issues ranging from separation of powers to the proper role of the Supreme Court to legitimate interpretations of the Bill of Rights, with frequent references to the Founding Fathers and their true "intent."

But how much do most of us really know about that intent?

The fact is, as Professor Thomas L. Pangle makes clear in The Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution, many of those Founding Fathers—men who had been signers of the Declaration of Independence, leaders of the American Revolution, or delegates to the Continental Congress—were highly critical of the new Constitution and staunchly opposed it when it was first put forth for ratification by the states as a replacement for the Articles of Confederation.

Learn Which Founders Opposed the New Constitution ...

Thomas Jefferson, for example, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, was highly skeptical of the proposed constitution and was not among the Federalists who were urging ratification, although his reluctant support for it was eventually won by his good friend James Madison.

Patrick Henry, whose declaration "Give me liberty or give me death!" is arguably the most iconic quote of the American Revolution, was an eloquent voice against ratification, his oratorical skills a potent weapon of the Anti-Federalist side in his native state of Virginia.

And John Hancock, the Declaration's first signer, was still another opponent of the new constitution, but later joined with fellow critic Samuel Adams to lead the effort at compromise through which Massachusetts approved ratification, but with many substantial amendments recommended.

Joined by a chorus of notable essayists—writing, in the style of the day, under the pen names "Agrippa," "Brutus," or "Cato," meant to evoke the ideals of Classical Republicanism they favored—the Anti-Federalists formed a potent opposition.

Which Founders Led the Battle for It ...

On the other side of the argument, an equally distinguished chorus of voices—led by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay—was raised in support of the proposed constitution.

They urged that its innovative structure—a structure the Anti-Federalists considered frightening and dangerous—ought to be passed without any substantial amendments. And in The Federalist, the extraordinary collection of polemical papers organized by Hamilton, they presented their side's answer to the objections raised by the proposed constitution's opponents.

The debate that ensued—even while some states ratified the document and others rejected it—raged for the better part of two years. Each side argued to prove and persuade others to their position. And beneath its rhetorical flourishes lay not only the longest and most profound civic argument in our nation's history, but also a civics lesson that deserves to endure for all time.

And How Both Sides Helped Define the Result!

It was an argument that would result in not only the ratification of the Constitution but also of what that Constitution would become—and the finished document was a testimonial to the contributions of the "victorious" Federalist side and the "losing" Anti-Federalists as well.

Why were the nation's planners so divided? What were the concerns that caused so many passionate defenders of American independence to take such different views? And why are the answers so important to us today?

In addressing these issues—including fervently presented renditions of the great debate's most illustrious writings and speeches—Professor Pangle brilliantly revives "the great controversy out of which our Constitution was born, so that we ourselves can begin to re-enact, in some degree, the debates and thus the choices—and, more importantly, the arguments for the choices—that were made by the founding generation."

In an era when contemporary arguments on the national stage so often mirror the same conflicts debated by the Founders, our own reenactment of that original debate can enrich our ability to be active and participating citizens.

"By listening to the original critics of the Constitution," Professor Pangle notes, "and by seeing how the defenders are responding to those critics, we will have better access to the age-old, deeply puzzling problems in the very nature of Republicanism with which our founders were wrestling and trying to solve. We can see precisely what dangers this new Constitution was meant to combat and what it was designed to achieve.

"But also, and equally important, we can see what our constitutional system was not designed to achieve, what alternative concerns and goals of political life were abandoned or subordinated, what costs were consciously paid, what limitations were accepted in opting for this ... new system."

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12 lectures
 |  31 minutes each
  • 1
    Significance and Historical Context
    We introduce the major players in the debate over the Constitution's ratification. Most important are those who took part in the struggle in New York—where some of the most thoughtful Anti-Federalist writings were produced and later responded to with the influential Federalist papers organized, and in substantial part written, by Alexander Hamilton. x
  • 2
    Classical Republicanism
    The Anti-Federalists attack the proposed constitutional order, saying it departs too much from the traditionally revered Greco-Roman ideal of virtuous participatory republicanism. We clarify the Anti-Federalist objections and explore their own reservations about classical republicanism. x
  • 3
    The Anti-Federalists' Republican Vision
    The participatory and virtue-centered vision of the Anti-Federalists dictates a more decentralized arrangement than the more consolidated national government proposed by the Federalists. We introduce the Federalists' response, highlighting their focus on the demands of national security and foreign policy. x
  • 4
    The Argument over National Security
    Articulating a need for sound defense and foreign policy, The Federalist critiques the existing constitution, the Articles of Confederation, and then moves to a general critique of the inadequacy of confederacies. Anti-Federalists counter by suggesting that Federalists may be falling prey to visions of an empire. x
  • 5
    The Deep Difficulties in Each Position
    Anti-Federalists accuse Federalists of giving national security pre-eminence over republican freedom. Federalists reply by claiming that Anti-Federalists fail to face up to what union and national security truly require. x
  • 6
    Debating the Meaning of "Federalism"
    The Federalists' defense of "Federalism" reveals that the state governments are to be strictly subordinate to the central government—thereby intensifying the Anti-Federalist critique. x
  • 7
    The Madisonian Republic
    How do the Federalists propose to prevent despotism in the central government? Their answer, articulated by James Madison, rejects the classical republican ideal of a confederacy of small, fraternal democracies in favor of a vast, representative republic, animated by competition among mutually hostile "factions." x
  • 8
    The Argument over Representation
    Madison identifies majority faction as the overriding danger in republics and calls for a new conception of representative government removed from the populace—a call that echoes, although in a more aristocratic way, the emphasis upon virtue found in the classical tradition. x
  • 9
    Disputing Separation of Powers, Part 1
    For Anti-Federalists, the proposed House of Representatives is too weak and will be overpowered by more powerful branches of government. For Federalists, the House is the most dangerous part of government and therefore most in need of being checked and balanced. x
  • 10
    Disputing Separation of Powers, Part 2
    Anti-Federalists argue that a federal-level "separation of powers" would be merely artificial, with no reliable basis in social reality; they argue instead for state governments to check the federal government. They also argue for a small executive council instead of the proposed presidency. x
  • 11
    The Supreme Court and Judicial Review
    Hamilton's expectation of a virtuous national leadership is most evident in his defense of the unelected, life-tenured Supreme Court and its historically unprecedented power of "judicial review." The Anti-Federalists predict abuse of this power and insist on a court that includes elected officials. x
  • 12
    The Bill of Rights
    The addition, by the first Congress, of the 10 amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights, is the one great victory of the Anti-Federalists—but it is won at the ironic cost of giving much more power to a Supreme Court that they fear. x

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Your professor

Thomas L. Pangle

About Your Professor

Thomas L. Pangle, Ph.D.
The University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Thomas L. Pangle holds the Joe R. Long Chair in Democratic Studies in the Department of Government at The University of Texas at Austin. He earned his B.A. from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago. Before joining the faculty at The University of Texas, Professor Pangle taught at Yale University, Dartmouth University, the University of Chicago, and the …cole des...
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Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 127.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Overview I think this is one of my favorite courses to date. The risk I think you run into by taking a course on politics is that the bias of the professor will leak through and become obvious where their personal beliefs are at. That was not the case here. The professor did a fantastic job of showing both sides of the debate with equal argument so that the student could make up their own mind. I went into the course thinking I would immediately default to one side of the debate, but often found myself being pushed back the other way and then vice versa. To me that is the mark of a great teacher that causes to to truly move back and forth among ideas and concepts constantly thinking and re-thinking positions. To work out in your mind how you feel. Absolutely fantastic course!
Date published: 2017-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thoughtful, interesting, and beautiful Anyone with a passing familiarity with US history knows about the drafting of the US Constitution in 1787 and the subsequent debates, including the arguments in what we now call The Federalist papers, as the Constitution was ratified. Prof. Pangle does a superb job in this course, diving deeply into the discussion, quoting extensively from Hamilton, Madison, and Jay and the anti-Federalist counter-arguments. It's truly deep and exciting material, and the course makes one realize just how radically different the American Republic was to be from all previous republics, and why so many were so skeptical. Listening carefully to every lecture, I came away with an even deeper appreciation for the genius of the Founders and Framers, and what they have given us. I also gaze in wonder at a citizen body capable of reading about and discussing the many back-and-forth volleys of argument on both sides, given the poor level of civic engagement and discourse we see today. Indeed, 'A republic - if you can keep it.'
Date published: 2017-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course Fascinating review of the debate about the constitution giving great insight into the deep thinkers who shaped the constitution. Where are they today?
Date published: 2017-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely great This course provides and in-depth analysis of the motivations and trains of thought of the advocates and opponents of the American constitution. Professor Pangle’s central point, in my opinion, is that this process, for the first time in history, was a conscious effort to “design” or “engineer” the right political mechanisms so as to provide a long lasting and well governed republic – where all previous efforts at this same goal have ultimately failed. The central documents in the course are, of course, the Federalist Papers and the responses to them by the so-called “anti-Federalists. I have heard many references to these papers in history courses but, not being American myself, have never had the opportunity to study them in detail. In this respect, the course provided a lot of valuable information for me. I found it absolutely fascinating to understand how, even at this early stage of American development, the people who were steering the process had a profound understanding of the stakes at hand, but also a mature and comprehensive political philosophy. Many of the central points that were argued during the debates are still being debated in the USA and elsewhere - so I found their relevance a bit surprising. One particular aspect whose centrality in the debates I found particularly surprising was the extent of federal governance that should be prescribed in the constitution. The centrality of this aspect, then and now, is peculiar to the United States whereas in other political systems (Israel being one good example) this aspect is almost not mentioned. Overall, I feel that Professor Pangle provided a wonderful, in-depth, quite technical discussion about the motivations and beliefs of the designers of the constitution, as well as their overarching strategy and “battlefield” tactics. The course was rigorous, not particularly entertaining or humorous, but straight to the point and enlightening. A great course indeed…
Date published: 2016-12-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from interesting course I just began listening to the lectures. I am interested to learn about the debates on the making of the constitution.
Date published: 2016-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the Ameri The professor is terrific. One of the best I have had since taking courses years ago. He is very engaging.
Date published: 2016-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from factionalism by design I can't add much to the excellent, recent reviews and comments, especially the featured review by JimCobb, except to say we all should review this course every election cycle. It makes it clear that the factional conflict of our political system was foreseen and built into the system by the founders, for better or for worse. One more thing, I found the almost passing comments about the powers of the Supreme Court and the comments of the anti-federalist very enlightening.
Date published: 2016-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Essential, relevant, and timely In this presidential election year of 2016, questions about the extent of the federal government in our national life are being discussed as vigorously as at any time in my life. Professor Pangle sheds a tremendous amount of light on this discussion, packing in a lot of information into 6 hours. I have been reading much debate this year among the factions of the conservative movement. It turns out that their concerns were echoed in the debate between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. Professor Pangle persuasively provides the arguments for both sides, and shows how each contributed to our current polity. I encourage every citizen to spend 6 hours to understand the legitimate arguments of both sides of this debate. I came away understanding that the optimal polity learns from both sides.
Date published: 2016-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent and Relevant Today AUDIO DOWNLOAD I had postponed listening to this TC course as it is on a topic I thought I knew a good deal about, though much of that knowledge is dated. Hardly an expert, I do know enough to appreciate this course as a top-notch treatment. Professor Pangle does an excellent job in resurrecting the voices of dissent to the proposed US Constitution. He does this by deftly treating major topics of concern raised by the “best” of the Anti-Federalists, and noting how those concerns are answered by the authors of ‘The Federalist Papers’ (primarily James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, but also John Jay). Professor Pangle shows us that these Anti-Federalists were not cranks or folks on the margins, but men (and at least one woman, Mercy Otis Warren) of substance and eminence, including Patrick Henry, John Hancock, and New York Governor George Clinton. The fact that sixteen of the fifty-five members of the Constitutional Convention did not sign off on the proposed constitution is an indication that the adoption of the US Constitution would face opposition. The Constitution represented a radical departure from classical republicanism, and this troubled many who decried its centralizing and undemocratic elements. Professor Pangle is best at describing the debate between the Anti-Federalists and the authors of the ‘The Federalist Papers’, providing extended quotations of both sides and references the appropriate ‘The Federalist Papers’ entry numbers. This makes for a lively course, made even more so by the background Professor Pangle provides about the participants and their positions. In this regard, he even points out some possible naiveté on the part of Madison and occasional glib or misleading arguments by Hamilton. It has often been assumed that though the Anti-Federalists failed to revise or derail adoption of the Constitution, they at least succeeded in securing a Bill of Rights. But here the success was “bittersweet” (audio, lecture 12). This is so, according to Professor Pangle, because Madison, in drafting the set adopted, avoided inclusion of any of those more radical elements earlier adopted by states (championed by, among others, Thomas Jefferson) that would have materially affected the operations of the Constitution. In fact, “Madison’s Bill of Rights strengthened the new Constitution and even gave to the central government important additional power contrary to the intention of the Anti-Federalists” (Course Guidebook, Page 58). Despite the seeming aura of failure that hangs over the Anti-Federalists, Professor Pangle succeeds in showing how “…those who opposed the constitution also contributed to an ongoing dialogue that has helped to define and enrich the American political tradition” (page 4). In this regard, I was sometimes surprised at how prescient the Anti-Federalists were about such present-day concerns about and debates on such matters as an activist Supreme Court or the reach of the Federal government into local and personal matters. The debate does indeed continue. This is a truly interesting course enlivened by a very good presenter who has crafted a set of lectures that keep one’s attention from beginning to end. The eighty-two page course guide book is exemplary.
Date published: 2016-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent elucidation Professor Pangle presents the debates between the Federalist and Antifederalists in an exemplary manner. He quotes amply from each side of the debate and shows how certain arguments eventually won out, including some of the Antifederalist arguments. His Lecture 11 on judicial review is especially compelling, as he examines Hamilton's nuanced views in The Federalist, responding to Antifederalist arguments. Hamilton's arguments for judicial review in The Federalist were later channeled by Chief Justice John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803). Pangle's Lecture 7 on the Madisonian Republic is also outstanding, as are many other analyses throughout this course. Professor Pangle is an expert in the history of political philosophy, and he shows how the various arguments of the Federalists and Antifederalists relate to that history, especially the political philosophy of Montesquieu and the views of the classical republicans of ancient Greece and Rome. Pangle, perhaps rightly, does not attempt to relate the eighteenth-century debate over the Constitution to later developments in American history, for example, the effect of the Industrial Revolution and advanced transportation and communications technology on federalism and, indeed, on the entire logic of Jefferson and the Antifederalists in favor of small and local government. That omission might leave some viewers and readers of these lectures with the misimpression that one can simply apply the debates of 1787-91 to today's circumstances. As Pangle observes, however, even Jefferson remarked that one generation's understanding of constitutional and other law should not bind subsequent generations. With this caveat, I strongly recommend this lecture series, which is accessible not only to scholars but also to others genuinely interested in one of the most important debates in American history.
Date published: 2016-07-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting Material. Weak Presentation I am a HUGE TGC fan, Since I found the iPhone App & started sending courses to my phone to listen to more easily in the car, life has been really good. Saying that, this is the first course I actually almost didn't finish. The material taught was pretty good, very big on primary sources; the problem was presentation. At first I wasn't sure what didn't seem right to me, it "felt" like a Shakespearean soliloquy. Then it hit me, the lecturer was reading almost exclusively from the notes and simply adding flourish to suggest emphasis. I'm used to TGC lecturers present in such a way as to almost seem conversational, occasionally even adding side-bar statements or personal perspectives that add to the lecture material. This presenter simply read from notes, like a book on tape. He wasn't bad - he reads well - it just felt contrived. You'll get something out of this if you concentrate on the message; the examples provided clearly showed the back-and-forth of the Founding Father's during the development of the Constitution, But you'll have to focus on the message because the presenter won't keep you captivated.
Date published: 2016-06-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Only problem I had is that the first lecture refers to written material and I didn't receive any. Excellent course. Very informative. Lecturer presents as if he was telling a story.
Date published: 2016-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very interesting and informative This course, "The Addictive Brain," was very interesting and full of good information. Having lived with an addict, I wanted to know more about the physical aspects of addiction. The professor is very well-spoken and easy to listen to. The content is slightly technical, but it had to be to explain the changes that take place in the brains of addicts. I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to learn more about addiction and the physical aspects of it.
Date published: 2016-06-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A decent effort, but leaves a lot out Prof. Thomas Prangle's 12-lecture series on what he calls, "The Great Debate" over the adoption of the new Constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation in 1787 is a useful effort, but at least in my view, and spends far too much time on the theoretical underpinnings of classical Republicanism, specifically its concentration on would rightly be called the sentimental aspects of 'republican virtue' and its concomitants, participatory government by those eligible to vote; Government as a vehicle for moral instruction and control of public and private behavior; local identification and local control. Prof. Prangle also does a decent job of delineating the principal Federalist arguments in favor of their position, that human nature is much too volatile for the kind of society and government which the country needs in order to survive. Specifically, a national federal government needs to be able to defend itself against all enemies, whether from other European states, or internally by disaffected persons within the member states. Such a government also needs the power to tax people living within those member states directly, and not rely upon funds requisitioned from those states in order to carry out its responsibilities. I was, however, greatly disappointed that Prof. Prangle did not mention in any way the controversy over slavery. I find that a central failing of his course because slavery was, in fact, a significant part of the debate, even though it's mention consumes a relatively few pages of the Federalist. For his part, James Madison, writing in Federalist 42, expressed his hope that slavery would "… be totally abolished, by a concurrence of the few States which continue the unnatural traffic, in the prohibitory principle which is been given by so great a majority of the Union." Madison also mentions in Federalist 43 the possibility that slaves might avail themselves of opportunities to improve their lot by joining in local rebellion against established authority, "… and give the superiority of strength to any party with which they may associate themselves." For his part, Alexander Hamilton, writing in Federalist 54, lays out the argument in favor of allowing slaves to be represented as three-fifths of a person for purposes of establishing a State's number of delegates to the national House of Representatives, while at the same time treating those slaves's personal property belong to their master. In a college level course debating the pros and cons of the Constitution up for ratification by the states affected by it, I would have thought that the issue of slavery would have been at least mentioned. Hamilton was known to be anti-slavery; and yet he accepted proslavery arguments on their face. Historically, it was understood that acceptance of slaveholding States' positions was the only way in which their agreement to the new Constitution could be assured. It is clear, at least to me, that much of the argument raised by anti-Federalists was merely window dressing, and the historical evidence supports that view. It took a four-year civil war to resolve the question once and for all. Consequently, those listening to Prof. Prangle's lectures were entitled to hear about the fundamental conundrum of The Federalist-anti-Federalist debate, what to do about slavery. It is the same conundrum that is at the root of warfare and bloodshed in the Middle East and elsewhere. Even today, one continually hears the refrain, emanating from Southern sources predominantly, that the Civil War was not about slavery.
Date published: 2016-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An illuminating series of lectures This was a fascinating class that illustrated the ideas around the debate over the U.S. Constitution. Professor Pangle really did a great job explaining the controversies and how they played out. I wish the class was even longer as I enjoyed it so much. Whenever I think of the Constitution or hear about a Supreme Court debate, I think of the content in this class. If you have any interest in learning about the ideas of our founding fathers around how our government should work, I can think of no better or more efficient source of information.
Date published: 2016-03-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from More Timely Now Than Ever In these lectures, Professor Pangle does not go into the machinations of the Constitutional Convention or the intricacies of the Constitution itself. Rather, he delves into the very public philosophical and political debate carried on between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists from the end of the convention to the Constitution’s ratification. The Anti-Federalists were not the Antediluvian sticks-in-the-mud as is often portrayed. They were patriotic, elegant and eloquent thinkers. Their fatal weaknesses were that they had no cohesive substitute for the proposed Constitution and that Hamilton and Madison were better writers. The Anti-Federalists promoted the ideal of classical republicanism as espoused by Montesquieu. This ideal rested on pure democracy, local control and civic virtue. The Federalists rightly pointed out that no republics so constituted ever lasted long and tended to divert from their principles by becoming oligarchies. The Federalists advocated a new republicanism built around a strong central government and function through tensions not only between the branches of the central government but also between local and state interests. Of course the Federalists won but only by submitting to the Anti-Federalists’ call for a Bill of Rights. Looking over the course of U.S. history, many of the Anti-Federalists’ concerns seem not to have been off the mark. Professor Pangle presents these complicated matters in a clear precise manner. He illustrates his points with many on-screen salient quotations. His use of portraits helps to put flesh on what could have been dry material. His only editorial remarks come in his final lecture when he repeats the Anti-Federalist concerns about an apathetic, atomized citizenry – a most timely observation.
Date published: 2016-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from First the Candidates Then Everyone Else This course is a brilliant, balanced, interesting, absolutely fabulous presentation of the constitutional debate that occurred when the United States of America was founded. It should be required (and I hesitate to use that word) for every single person running for elected office, then for any one who works for one of the media outlets, and finally, recommended strongly for every single person who votes and for every high school student, in this case as a requirement for graduation. Professor Pangle makes it perfectly clear that the issues are complex and that is part of what is so wonderful about this course: it demonstrates clearly that brilliant people, who only wanted the best for the future Republic, disagreed about how to achieve that goal. I have tried to read the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers and bogged down. Professor Pangle's presentation is making them perfectly accessible to me and for that he can not be thanked enough.
Date published: 2016-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Debate This should be for every citizen to watch. Awesome, I'm only into the 3rd or 4th class, but it's very enlightening. It would actually be nice if there were exams. It would be great if there were more college courses designed around this format, what a great way to reduce education costs. I'd been getting these flyers for years about the Great Courses and now I wish I'd bought them years ago. Terrific value......
Date published: 2016-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sound and satisfying Very highly recommended. Professor Pangle provides an engaging, vigorous, and thoughtful introduction to the debate during the years 1787 and 1788 about the ratification of the constitution of the United States of America. Both the Federalist and Anti-Federalist positions are presented cogently and fairly. The course booklet is superb. Its bibliography includes references for print and electronic resources.
Date published: 2016-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating and enlightening The course was fascinating to me. This was for me my first deep exploration into the arguments against the Constitution. Sure I heard the "simple" ones about the compromise between larger populated states (House or Representatives) and the smaller states (Senate), and the three branches of the legislature, but there are deeper ones, which are explored, that are still not resolved. Having read some of the Federalist papers, it was fun to see what ideas they were responding to and attacking. What was the biggest eye opener for me is how we are still arguing many of the same points. This course helped put those arguments into a new light, and made me appreciate the old adage those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. I listened to the course and it worked wonderfully for me. I did not feel I missed anything by not watching it in video.
Date published: 2015-10-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Count me in! If you have a love of country, and want to get into the heads of the founding fathers and what life was like. By this course. Very interesting and you will learn a lot. Professor Thomas L. Pangle does a great job.
Date published: 2015-09-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from For those who want to know our founders intended What remarkable minds our founders had! This very fast-paced course reveals so much that is glossed-over in the average American classroom regarding our unique and remarkable Constitution. Insightful arguments from Federalists and Anti-federalists are presented in a the context of the times but show clearly that these great minds wanted to build a government that could last. Making issues in debate today much more understandable. Professor Pangle clearly knows this material and his delivery is complete (albeit delivered in a unapologetic fast pace, which made me repeat many sections to get the information down) and authoritative way. This is a course for those who truly want to KNOW about the subject - and I believe this should be ALL Americans. One thing I was left with is a huge admiration for our founders; what brilliant minds and what serious dedication to the task of building a more perfect union. Taking this course will make you a better citizen.
Date published: 2015-06-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic! Professor Thomas L. Pangle explains the founding of our constitution in a very professional, clear and interesting manner. Promoting both sides ( Federalist and Anti Federalists) he explains their points of views and arguments for and against the New Constitution. Professor Pangle's method of teaching holds your attention with his excellent presentation style. His method of teaching engages you through logic, emotion, and conveys the deep love of country that all the founders shared. You will be amazed to learn how some of the Anti Federalist concerns and fears (rejected in ratification) actually have unfortunately come to pass. He details the Federalists papers and letters, revealing the deep intellect of these great thinkers. I strongly believe a course such as Dr Pangle's should be obligatory in every middle and high school across our country.
Date published: 2015-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Great Discussions in Creating our Constitution Issues argued during the creation of our magnificent constitution come alive in this series of twelve lectures. The presentation is dignified and includes why they are still relevant in understanding its continued greatness today. States rights, the role of the central government, the balance of powers and the fears of the Anti-Federalists are still vital in today's politics. Dr. Pangle also explains how some of those fears did become realized in the 226 years since ratification in 1789. There are detailed excerpts from the Federalist Papers and the insights on how public sentiment was manipulated by Hamilton and Madison and why the Federalist model became the law of the land. This course has also provided me with a new depth of understanding in my discussions of current political issues with others of all persuasions, including acceptance of divergent views from my own. I would recommend this course as a primer for those wishing to study further, for involved citizens in the politics of their state and local federal government representatives, and those who value our history and the greatness of the idea of the United States of America.
Date published: 2015-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from super I loved this fascinating look at the variety of points of view the Founders held, how their views evolved, and the reasoning they used. I can hardly believe how many brilliant thinkers there were. I was not fully persuaded by the way Dr. Pangle concluded the course with, basically, “and thus we see that the Federalists were right.” History has demonstrated the validity of some of the Antifederalists’ arguments. I suggest to Dr. Pangle that he can say “quoting,” “in so-and-so’s words,” and such less often. I expect to watch this course again so I can learn even more.
Date published: 2015-03-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Why the Constitution Is What It Is The founding fathers did something almost unimaginable: they created a new form of government. This course examines many of the decisions made by the founding fathers by exploring the arguments for and against each choice. It is fascinating how many of the arguments against things in the constitution have been shown to be valid. This is not a course on the contents of the constitution; it is a course about how the constitution was created. It is therefore useful, but not required, to already have a working knowledge of the constitution prior to watching this course. Pangle's presentation is not the most dynamic. In addition, he sometimes quotes works too extensively rather than paraphrasing. However, the quality of the material he presents and the way he has organized the course more than makes up for these negative aspects of the course. I have the DVD version of the course and heartily recommend it.
Date published: 2015-02-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting and Timely I found this series to be quite interesting. I have heard lectures about the Constitution and about the Federalist papers, but never have heard much about the Anti-federalist position. Most of what I have heard regarding the arguments of the Anti-federalists was developed in an extremely dismissive manner. The Anti-federalists actually made good arguments against the proposed Constitution and seemed prescient in anticipating many of the problems which have occurred over time. I wonder whether even the most ardent Federalists would endorse the Constitution in its current bastardization.
Date published: 2014-12-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Rare Miss By The Great Courses I am a Constitution junkie and when I saw this course, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Sadly, I was disappointed with the course - the first (and, I hope, last) time, I've said that about any course from The Great Courses. The material is OK, but the presentation is bland and delivered with out much passion, which is too bad for such a potentially interesting subject. I would recommend instead the free courses on the Constitution offered by Hillsdale College or James Madison's Montpelier.
Date published: 2014-12-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Professor Pangle has a slow, somewhat stilted manner of delivering the lectures, but once I got used to his style I became fascinated by the sophisticated analysis of this debate. However, the files I listened to kept skipping, and one of the them wouldn't play at all. I received an uphelpful response from tech support, so I abandoned the course half-way through.
Date published: 2014-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Anti-Federalists? Quick, name one of the anti-federalists! This course will explain why you can't. Fascinating. A very well constructed short course.
Date published: 2014-05-08
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