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Spring 2023 Reading Group

The Constitution and the First Congress

Prerequisite: None

Exam Type: No Exam

Starting in 1789, Congress took the lead in shaping the federal Constitution. Controversies emerged over structuring the executive and judicial branches, assuming state war debts, considering anti-slavery petitions, creating the First Bank, passing the Bill of Rights, and more. In debating these issues, members of the First Congress created lasting precedents and shaped the parameters of constitutional discourse—embracing certain ways of seeing the new Constitution, while diminishing or discarding others. In this 1-credit Reading Group, we will read selections of congressional debates, along with scholarly commentary, and will consider the lasting importance of what happened in the First Congress.

Note: This reading group will meet on the following dates: TBD.