Author & Speaker

Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Constitution’

Does Going There Matter?

Multi-prize-winning author T.J. Stiles (Custer’s Trials, The First Tycoon) recently posed this question on social media.  “Do historians have to visit the sites in their books?” he asked.  “I say no, no more than you have to have been alive in the times you write about.”  Stiles contended that what is important is “personal experience,”…

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Five Amendments That Would Surprise the Framers

Yesterday, after I delivered a talk on the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a gentleman in the book-signing line asked an interesting question:  “Which of the constitutional amendments would be most surprising to the Framers?” I had to stop and think.  Then I said, “The Prohibition amendment.”  [That’s No. 18, for those who are keeping score…

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Messing Around With Your Votes, Part I

Two recent developments illustrate how the democracy we enjoy here in the Citadel of Liberty is both flawed and fragile.  First, a movement is gathering force for a back-door change to the largely indefensible practice of electing our presidents through the electoral college.  Second, a contrary movement is sweeping the states to require tough voter…

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Amendment Fetish: The Repeal Amendment

While proclaiming undying fealty to the Constitution, the Tea Party movement and its allies are touting a hot new amendment to that otherwise perfect document, which goes by the oxymoronic name “the Repeal Amendment.”  This proposed amendment would allow two-thirds of the state legislatures to repeal any law or regulation of the federal government, so long…

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Amendment Fetish: The Seventeenth Amendment

Adopted in 1913, the Seventeenth Amendment changed the way American choose their senators.  Until then, each state legislature selected that state’s two senators for six-year terms.  After 1913, the voters have chosen senators in elections.  Repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment is a centerpiece of the state’s rights push behind the Tea Party movement and its close…

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The Amendment Fetish: The Problem of the States

The swelling Tea Party movement embodies a fascinating contradiction.  Its leaders profess a near-religious awe for the U.S. Constitution.  This has led to stunts like the reading of the Constitution on the floor of the House of Representatives.  Should it also lead to greater sales for The Summer of 1787, I will be hard-pressed to complain. …

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Rejecting The "Gretna Defense"

I usually root for the defense, especially in an impeachment case, since I lost one of those 21 years ago.  (I represented Judge Walter L. Nixon, Jr. of Mississippi.)  But there’s no criticizing the Senate’s conviction yesterday of District Judge G. Thomas Porteous of New Orleans.  The case, as detailed in a Senate committee report, presented a…

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"The Summer of 1787" and the Middle Kingdom

The capitalist tilt in China continues!  ANA Beijing has agreed to publish The Summer of 1787 in a Chinese language edition. Though I am optimistic that this development presages a new dawn of freedom and democracy in the Far East, candor compels me to disclose that the initial print run will only be 3,000 volumes. …

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"Impeached" in Paperback

On Tuesday, May 15, Simon & Schuster will officially release the paperback edition of Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy.  Although Amazon has been selling the paperback version for several days, with any luck the new release will be available in stores soonest.     At this point in the life…

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End Run Around "High Crimes and Misdemeanors"

The meaning of “high crimes and misdemeanors” in the Constitution’s impeachment clause has bedevilled generations of lawyers and politicians, and citizens.  An interesting new piece by a Cornell Law Professor, Josh Chavetz, suggests that what is an impeachable offense can be gleaned from another angle — by the comparison between impeachment and assassination. Chafetz starts with…

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