A constitutional scholar will be speaking at the Lodi Public Library tonight in the first of a two-part series on what the United States’ most important historical documents mean in today’s society.
Dr. Richard Beeman will give a talk titled “The Founding Fathers of 1789 — Lessons in Political Leadership” tonight. The John Walsh Centennial Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania focuses on studying the American Revolution and has appeared on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart.
Beeman recently published a book called “Plain Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution,” which focuses on the Constitutional Convention.
“It struck me that it would be a timely book to take a look at going into a national election,” library services manager Andrea Woodruff said.
Beeman will discuss the Constitution as well as other important historical documents.
“He’s obviously thought a great deal about the Constitution and these other documents and their place in our lives,” Woodruff said. “He will discuss the Founding Fathers’ political leadership, both what it meant then and what it means for us now.”
For the second part, there will be a panel discussion on historical issues and interpretations of the Constitution on Oct. 7.
University of the Pacific professor of political science Dr. Jeffrey Becker will moderate a panel on what the Constitution means and discuss different theories about the document. Panel members will include professors from University of the Pacific and McGeorge School of Law.
Woodruff said it should be a lively discussion because some people are strict constructionists and believe the United States needs to return to a literal interpretation of the Constitution. On the other hand, there is a progressive movement of people who believe the Constitution needs to be amended to fit into current society.
“I thought it would be interesting as well as entertaining to have people discuss the Constitution, and where are we taking it, and what are the implications here,” she said.
The library is providing both programs using a Searching for Democracy grant through CalHumanities, an independent nonprofit state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The grant gives libraries the opportunity to study an issue as it “relates to the American experience,” Woodruff said.
It is important for the library to offer these types of programs because they help build community, she said.
“If we can get a group together to think about and talk about the Constitution and how it functions in our lives, what it means to us and where it is going, then that’s a function of a public library. We want to engender discussions for the populace and community at large,” she said.
Beeman’s talk tonight will be from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Lodi Bud Sullivan Community Room at the Lodi Public Library.
The Oct. 7 panel on the Constitution will be from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Cottage/Paisano Room at Hutchins Street Square.