Most of us know that America's Founding Fathers attended the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia and drafted the Constitution of the United States. The delegates decided to replace the Articles of Confederation with a document that strengthened the federal government, with the most contentious issue being legislative representation. Eventually, a compromise established the bicameral Congress to ensure both equal and proportional representation. But a lot more happened as well - much of it underreported or misunderstood. That's the focus of this insider's look at the birth of American Government as we know it today.
The fact is, the Founding Fathers were ambitious. Also grouchy, scared, and hopeful. They told jokes. They fought. They schemed. They gossiped. They improvised. Occasionally, they killed each other (sorry, Alexander Hamilton). Only by seeing the Founders as real people -not icons- can we appreciate the full story of the nation's founding with all of its drama, humor, and significance intact.
Carol Berkin / Baruch College
Carol Berkin is Presidential Professor of History at Baruch College and a member of the history faculty of the Graduate Center of CUNY. She has worked as a consultant on several PBS and History Channel documentaries, including, The "Scottsboro Boys," which was nominated for an Academy Award. She has also appeared as a commentator on screen in the PBS series by Ric Burns, "New York," the Middlemarch series "Benjamin Franklin" and "Alexander Hamilton" on PBS, and the MPH series, "The Founding Fathers." She serves on the Board of The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Board of the National Council for History Education.