Fears of a setting sun: Dennis C. Rasmussen on the worries of Washington, Hamilton, Adams, and Jefferson

Unprecedential

Jun 24 2021 • 58 mins

From today’s vantage point, the Founding era often seems a time churning with decisive hopefulness. The 1789 Constitutional Convention certainly featured vehement debate, as Gary Schmitt and Joseph Bessette noted in our last episode. But optimism appeared to prevail: on the last day of the Convention, Benjamin Franklin concluded that a rising, rather than a setting, sun was the apt metaphor for the fledgling nation.

Yet many of our most revered Founders –Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton – expressed deep concern for the new nation’s prospects for success. The framers’ worries, often overlooked in scholarship, is the subject of Syracuse University Political Science Professor Dennis Rasmussen’s new book, Fears of a Setting Sun: The Disillusionment of America's Founders. Listen as Adam and Dennis discuss the Founders’ fears – and one framer whose measured confidence was notable exception.

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