On May 11, 2017, at noon, Paul Aron will deliver a Banner Lecture entitled “Feuding Founders: Battling and Backstabbing in Early America.”
“Thirteen clocks were made to strike together,” John Adams wrote in 1818, recalling how the thirteen colonies united to seize their independence. Adams knew this had been a tentative and tenuous unity. During and after the Revolution, the founders were not only debating but also smearing, screaming, spitting, and occasionally shooting at each other—their politics every bit as polarized as our own. Yet despite these feuds—and even to some extent because of them—the founders (in contrast to today’s politicians) managed to find ways to build a nation.