We have received news of the death of our longtime colleague and friend, Gordon Lloyd.
Gordon was born in England, raised in Trinidad, and became a naturalized American citizen after coming to the United States for graduate studies. He taught at Pepperdine University for many years. At the time of his death, Gordon was the Dockson Professor Emeritus of Public Policy at Pepperdine. Gordon received a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from McGill University. He completed all coursework for his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Chicago before earning his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in public administration from the Claremont Graduate School.
Gordon was an authority on the founding of America. He has taught founding courses and seminars for many years teaching American history, especially in his master’s program in American history and government.
Gordon edited three volumes of the Founding for TAH series of core documents, Founding of America, constitutional conventionAnd Bill of rights. TAH also published Gordon’s book. Debate at the 1787 Federal Convention, James Madison, member. Gordon believed that Madison’s report on the convention was not just a collection of notes, but a carefully crafted memorandum of an extraordinary event. His edition of Madison’s work brought it back to what Gordon thought Madison had in mind.
A few years ago, Gordon collected everything he knew about the Constitutional Convention into one encyclopedic exhibition. We restored this exhibit on this sitewhich makes everything but a few features (which were created with legacy software) available again
In addition to founding, Gordon has worked on public policy issues, most recently with David Davenport. Their latest joint work, which will be published at the end of this year, Equality of Opportunity: A Century of Debate.
Below is a description of Gordon’s exhibition at the Constitutional Convention and an interview with him about it that appeared on the blog a few years ago.
Re-submission of the website of the Constitutional Assembly
We have revived our online exhibition dedicated to the Constitutional Convention, again making it an encyclopedic coverage of the events, topics and participants of the Congress.
Professor Lloyd’s exhibition depicts the process by which 56 delegates from thirteen newly independent states, each envious of their own interests and prerogatives, managed to develop a government structure that has served our country for more than two centuries. The exhibition presents the discussions of the founders through various lenses:
- An introduction provides historical context, including:
- the state governments established shortly after the start of the revolution;
- the original national government, the Articles of Confederation, its shortcomings and calls for its replacement, the gathering of delegates to the Convention and the establishment of ground rules for debate;
- the gathering of delegates to the congress and the establishment of the basic rules of the debate.
- For those interested in the details of the daily debate, Lloyd offers a calendar-bound, summary by day of these based on notes James Madison took during the convention and later edited.
- To give an idea of convention in general, Lloyd discusses it as four act drama— including the buildup of tension, moment of crisis, resolution, and denouement.
- Lloyd gives short essays on eleven main themes were discussed during the debate, as well as information about the delegates, including:
- a record of which delegates were present on which dates, and
- lists of delegates by their age, levels of education, economic interests, honorary titlesAnd previous public service experience on the continentwith links to portraits and short biographies of most of the delegates.
- Finally, there is an annotation gallery of artists’ interpretations conventions and a funny story about dinner in the city tavern given in honor of George Washington when the convention ended.
Interview with Gordon Lloyd
How did you first become interested in the American Foundation?
As a student at McGill University, I studied politics and economics and tried to do the same in my doctoral studies, although I had to transfer from the University of Chicago to Claremont Graduate School to write a dissertation on politics and economics. together. At the founding, I saw that economic and political interests are clearly connected. The revolution was due to “taxation (an economic issue) without representation (a political issue)”. Feudalism entails a hierarchical economic organization, but republicanism—a policy of consent rather than automatic subjugation—brings another organization. It was Madison who said that the number one political issue concerns the distribution of property. In that case, how can one not consider politics and economics together?
Your work on the website brings together a wealth of information, ranging from a daily report on the Constitutional Convention to a monthly report on the ratification process, including biographies of participants. Are there any founding books that do this?
Not what I know from. There are books that focus on aspects of founding—the Convention, the ratification process, Federalist, Bill of rights. My approach is to show the connections between all these things. Instead of writing a book about relationships, I thought the website could serve as a blueprint for the next generation of people to do this work. The idea came about around 2005 when Roger Beckett (co-founder of the MAHG program) and I were discussing ways to advance foundation learning.
The first sentence of the exhibit plunges us into history: “It was 1787. . . . ” You don’t start with a thematic statement. Do you want to avoid telling readers what to think about all the information you provide?
Yes. I want to give teachers and students the tools to answer questions themselves. My goal is to reattach Americans to their country after years of history textbooks that make Americans hate or distrust our foundation because of its imperfections. It may restore the debate that took place at our founding and remains relevant today.
When I talk about a website, I often use a lecture I call Ten Ways to Love Your Creators. You can study them with a graphical approach, a biographical approach, a textual approach, viewing the stories of conventions and ratification processes as disturbing dramas, etc. I am not saying that one way is only way.
What, first of all, should Americans understand about the Constitutional Convention?
This was the first time in human history that a government was designed and created by a group of people representing different geographic areas. Fifty-five people, sitting together in a room and thinking rationally, managed to create a government that lasted and changed the world.
I hope visitors to the site will get an idea of the dynamics of events over the 88-day period from May 29 to September 15, 1787. The delegates met for five hours a day, six days a week, constantly discussing serious differences among themselves. . Each delegate had to decide when to stick to their position and when to compromise. If you’ve argued convincingly for your position, how do you gracefully change your mind? Some delegates thought: “I would like to leave here in the next car, but honor requires me to stay.” Others are gone. At the end of June there was a period of about ten days, which some did not take into account, when the delegates were at an impasse and nothing was decided. But if you omit this period, you miss out on the feeling that it takes people to become so frustrated that they find a way to compromise.
That’s what I think the Americans are missing in this story – the dynamics of doubt and hope, relieving the tension of discussions in pubs. 70 delegates were selected to participate in the congress; 55 of them appeared in Philadelphia, and in the end 39 people signed up. The last group made a commitment to see the process through; they felt that the opportunity to create a workable republican government might never come again.
Some have used their rhetorical influence to move things forward; others were constantly working behind the scenes. Studying how different delegates dealt with disagreements and impasses reveals a lot about human nature. And there’s nothing wrong with reminding yourself of the mess of collaborative decision making.
Who, in your opinion, was the most influential delegate to the congress?
Madison is obviously a very powerful delegate who has been made more effective by the backing of Washington. But the role of Roger Sherman from Connecticut is underestimated. He signed the Declaration and the Constitution. He is the only one who participated in every step of the founding, from the Articles of Confederation, which he also signed, through the Constitutional Convention – attending almost every session – through the ratification convention for his state to the creation of the Bill of Confederation. Rights. If you follow the interaction between Sherman and Madison from 1776 to 1787, you will see in a nutshell the two sides of American policy at its founding. They were two poker players who struck a deal between the supporters of a strong central government and those who preferred to keep more power in the states.
How do you explain the delegates’ success in developing a government plan that has served us for more than two centuries?
Was it luck? Divine providence? I would say yes and yes. But the Convention demonstrates a fact of life: to do something extraordinary, you need extraordinary opportunities and extraordinary people to take advantage of them. There are moments in life when people go to meet circumstances.
Have we lost sight of what the Constitution was designed for today?
From the beginning, people disagreed about how to respect the document. Do we interpret it literally or elastically?
Since the creators started their work, we have had two debates: one horizontal, the other vertical. One touches separation of powers. We always run the risk of making one branch of government more important than another. Another problem is federalism: the relationship between national and state governments. Major events—the Civil War, the New Deal, the Affordable Care Act—changed that relationship. Some competition at both the horizontal and vertical levels of our individual leadership mandates is healthy and built into our system. If we replace this competition with coordination and cooperation, because we choose to sacrifice freedom for efficiency or security, we will go astray.