Constitutional Discourse: Teaching the Constitution, the Constitution as Teacher--A Panel Discussion in Honor of Leonard Levy

| 1 Comment

Claremont Discourse presents:
Robert Dawidoff (CGU Professor of History), Leo Flynn (Pomona Professor of Politics), Charles Lofgren (CMC Professor of History and Politics), Jean Schroedel (CGU Professor of Politics), Andrew Busch (CMC Professor of Politics), and Ken Miller (CMC Professor of Politics), moderator
Founders Room
Honnold/Mudd Library
Thursday, September 20th, 4:15 p.m

Snacks provided; discussion to follow.

Leonard Levy (1923-2006) was perhaps the most respected constitutional historian of his time -- respected even by many of those who chafed at his interpretations. With over 40 books to his name, he left his profound mark nationally, as well as in Claremont, where he was Professor of Humanities and Chairman of the Faculty in History at the Claremont Graduate School from 1971 to 1990. Most famous among the books he published are Origins of the Fifth Amendment (which garnered the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1969), The Establishment Clause: Religion and the First Amendment (1986), Original Intent and the Framers’ Constitution (1988), and, as editor-in-chief, the magisterial Encyclopedia of the American Constitution (1986). Displaying both a scholarly honesty and a life-long commitment to thinking about constitutional problems, he substantially revised the tenor of his arguments in his 1960 book Legacy of Suppression, reissuing it in 1985 as Emergence of a Free Press. Levy most famously wrote that the “framers had a genius for studied imprecision.” In honor of Levy’s spirit of probing and open inquiry, and as one of the events the Libraries are sponsoring in celebration of Constitution Day, this panel (which includes two panelists who were colleagues of Levy) will discuss how to teach the Constitution and instill the idea that the Constitution is a life-long teacher, a document with volumes to say about history and the present day.

1 Comment

Leonard Levy's legacy also included a history of perverse behavior, bordering on the sociopathic. He was mean, self-centered, selfish, egotistical, and given to fits of uncontrolled rage, especially to those who challenged his sincerity as either a teacher or administrator. Levy was no consensus-builder because he never was able to acknowledge anyone other than himself who could accomplish any task. He was a third-rate administrator, whom I firmly believe mis-managed the money with which he was entrusted, was biased in favor of those students who were either committed to his specialties of American Constitutional History, the Colonial Period and/or the Early National Period, and lavished the substance of the grants he obtained for his encyclopedia and other similar projects by inviting them to write articles and research to the detriment of other, equally-capable students, like myself. Levy disliked honest expression among those students under his administrative responsibility. Possessing a fourth-rate personality, We went to blows on several occasions because I sought not to assuage his inflated ego, but to seek an honest education. He never assisted one of his students in either seeking gainful academic employment or publishing their dissertations, browbeat most of them with cynical comments and caustic remarks without balance, often in reference to their abilities or intelligence, and never established a nurturing environment in which mentoring was encouraged; it was not within his nature. Don't believe the panel; none of them ever had a student-teacher relationship with Levy. I did. He scarred an entire generation of potentially-gifted historians. I, for one, am glad that he is gone. He can do no more damage. "Sic, sempre, tyrranus."

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.38