UW-Milwaukee: History department hosts lecture on James Madison and U.S. Constitution

MILWAUKEE _ Legal scholar Mary Sarah Bilder will deliver the inaugural Jere D. McGaffey Lecture in history at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, April 3, in UWM’s Greene Hall, 3347 N. Downer Ave.

Bilder, the Founders Professor of Law at Boston College Law School, will discuss “Notes on the 1787 Constitutional Convention,” which is James Madison’s account of the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. Madison went on to serve as the fourth president of the United States.

“We’re delighted to have the opportunity to host Dr. Bilder,” said Amanda I. Seligman, chair of UWM’s Department of History. “Her important work helps us to rethink the founding of the United States and how one of the founders rethought the nation’s seminal moment in the decades following the Constitutional Convention.

Madison’s “Notes” have been viewed as the authoritative account of a formative American event. In her research, Bilder argues that Madison revised the “Notes” to a far greater extent than previously recognized, and explores how those changes have affected our understanding of the convention and the document it produced.

Bilder’s book “Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention,” won the Bancroft Prize for books about diplomacy or the history of the Americas. Her scholarship draws on digital technologies and traditional textual analysis, resulting in a biography of a document that developed a life and character all its own.

The lecture was made possible by a grant from Jere McGaffey, a retired partner in the Foley & Lardner law firm. McGaffey asked that his gift “remind the audience of the continuing relevance of historical scholarship to illuminating the present.”

“We are very grateful to Jere McGaffey for enabling the Department of History to bring this distinguished scholar of the American political tradition to UWM,” Seligman said.

The lecture is free and open to the public.