Lee H. Hamilton is president and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and director of The Center on Congress at Indiana University. Hamilton represented Indiana’s 9th congressional[…]
Where are the Lincolns, the Jeffersons, the Washingtons?
Question: What is your favorite period in American history? Transcript: I guess all Americans have a favorite period of American history. Mine is the period of the founding fathers. I’ve really been quite enchanted by that. We were a very small country – four or five million people – but we produced in the period of a few years a flowering of political genius. Just remarkable, I think unprecedented really in the history of the world. And I like all of them I guess. I’ve read a good bit about them. They’re giants. But my particular favorite is James Madison. Madison, of course, did not have all that successful a tenure as president, but he was the father of the Constitution. And I’ve been kind of attracted to him because I’ve always felt that he could never have gotten elected to Congress. He was a small man, about 5-foot tall. He had a pock-marked face. He was a lousy speaker. On television he would have been disaster; but he was a political genius because he was able to put together, if you will, large portions of the Constitution. So my interest has really been with the founding fathers. I have others I admire. Lincoln, of course like all Americans, I admire; but the founding fathers I feel a deep, deep sense of appreciation for because of what they did.