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Study Questions

  • 1. Define the ‘Founding Fathers’ 1) in a narrow and 2) in a broader sense.
  • 2. In retrospect, what unites the Founding Fathers as a group and what differences can we discern between them in the historical context?
  • 3. Discuss the notion of a “second founding” of the US. What does it refer to?
  • 4. Give an interpretation of the New Yorker cover showing Barack Obama as a Founding Father.
  • 5. Crispus Attuck, Richard Allen, Barzillai Lew, Peter Salem, Prince Whipple, Jenny Slew, Mum Bett, Harry Hosier, Daniel Coker, and James Forten have been to varying degrees referred to as Black Founding Fathers and Mothers. Research and discuss their stories!
  • 6. Eliza Pinckney, Deborah Sampson, Lydia Darragh, Emily Geiger, Sybil Luddington, Catherine Littlefield Greene, Margaret Beekman Livingston, and Annis Boudinot Stockton have been to varying degrees referred to as Founding Mothers. Research and discuss their stories!
  • 7. In her book On Revolution, Hannah Arendt argues that “[n]o revolution has ever taken place in America” (17). Daniel Boorstin in The Genius of American Politics (1953) refers to the historical event as a “revolution without dogma.” Discuss!
  • 8. When Horatio Greenough’s statue of George Washington (modelled after a statue of Zeus) was displayed in the rotunda of the US Capitol in 1841, responses were quite mixed. Discuss the role of Classicism in the depiction and self-fashioning of the Founding Fathers.
  • 9. Watch and discuss the HBO miniseries John Adams. How are the Founding Fathers represented?
  • 10. What does a transnational perspective on the Founding Fathers entail and why is it useful?
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