"A Republic if you can keep it," was Benjamin Franklin's reply when asked what type of government had been formed. To be sure, the skepticism he expressed was shared by many of the other founders. A Republic was deemed most suited to achieve their objectives. With the ratification of the Constitution, our Republic, the United States of America, came into being. Bernard Bailyn's The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution
(Belknap/Harvard Press, 2017), winner of both the Pulitzer and Bancroft Prizes, narrates the long process through which this was accomplished. Making use of archival material about the founders, the author shares with us letters they wrote, speeches they made, newspaper articles, church sermons, and hundreds of pamphlets circulated throughout the colonies. We will discuss how Bailyn shows us the influences on the founders' political thought and how they dealt with the issues that concerned them: rights, representation, sovereignty, checks and balances, and state versus federal powers. Of all these issues it was the issue of power, especially the misuse of power, that most concerned them. What was power and where must it ultimately reside? It is here, in the determination that we find the basis for Franklin's skepticism. Join us as we analyze and discuss these most important concepts.