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Speaker Series: David Stewart

September 20, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Best-selling writer, David O. Stewart, will discuss his book, The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution, the story of delegates closeted through a sultry summer to create a government charter that embodied the best of Americas dreams, and the worst of Americas realities. The Constitution will come alive in this lecture, and your feelings about how the nation emerged will never be the same. Tickets are $5 members, $10 guests — to purchase call 843-723-9912 or click here.

The Summer of 1787 traces the struggle at the Philadelphia Convention to create the world’s first constitutional democracy. Using the delegates’ fiery rhetoric, the book explores the conflicts and hard bargaining that invented a government to meet the crises of the not-quite-united states – huge debts, hostile neighbors, armed rebellion, and the very real prospect of dissolving into three nations or more.


The successful creation of the Constitution is a suspense story. The Summer of 1787 takes us into the sweltering room in which delegates struggled for four months to produce the flawed but enduring document that would define the nation — then and now.

George Washington presided, James Madison kept the notes, Benjamin Franklin offered wisdom and humor at crucial times. The Summer of 1787 traces the struggles within the Philadelphia Convention as the delegates hammered out the charter for the world’s first constitutional democracy. Relying on the words of the delegates themselves to explore the Convention’s sharp conflicts and hard bargaining, David O. Stewart lays out the passions and contradictions of the often painful process of writing the Constitution.

It was a desperate balancing act. Revolutionary principles required that the people have power, but could the people be trusted? Would a stronger central government leave room for the states? Would the small states accept a Congress in which seats were alloted according to population rather than to each sovereign state? And what of slavery? The supercharged debates over America’s original sin led to the most creative and most disappointing political deals of the Convention.

The room was crowded with colorful and passionate characters, some known — Alexander Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris, Edmund Randolph — and others largely forgotten. At different points during that sultry summer, more than half of the delegates threatened to walk out, and some actually did, but Washington’s quiet leadership and the delegates’ inspired compromises held the Convention together.

In a country continually arguing over the document’s original intent, it is fascinating to watch these powerful characters struggle toward consensus — often reluctantly — to write a flawed but living and breathing document that could evolve with the nation.
After many years as a trial and appellate lawyer, David O. Stewart became a bestselling writer of history and historical fiction. His histories have explored the writing of the Constitution, the gifts of James Madison, the outrageous western expedition and treason trial of the mysterious Aaron Burr, and the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson. His histories have won the Washington Writing Award for best book of the year, the History Prize of the Society of the Cincinnati, and the William H. Prescott Award of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America.

His first novel, The Lincoln Deception, about the John Wilkes Booth Conspiracy, was called the best historical novel of 2013 by Bloomberg View. Sequels include The Wilson Deception, set at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, and The Babe Ruth Deception, which follows the Babes first two years with the Yankees.


September 20, 2019
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm