The Founding Forty: 1763-1803
What really happened at the American founding?
See the Spring 2024 overview, with all class summaries, here.
What you will know how to do, and have done, by the end of the class
General class structure and information
Class expectations and etiquette
About your instructor
Applications are open from January 3 until January 26 (5pm EST); they will be accepted on a rolling basis, and sooner is definitely better. Popular classes will be repeated in April and May, and those applications will open in early March.
I’ll inform all applicants of their status, successful or not, by January 26 or sooner. I aim to answer each application within a week of its submission. If you have not heard back from me by then, feel free to shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Time: 2:00-4:00pm, Sundays, February 4—March 3 (5 weeks)
Location: near Brooklyn Academy of Music
Completion reqs: final sit-down exam, all homework, no more than one absence
Tuition: $160, $260, or $360. Select the option appropriate for you.
What you will know how to do, and have done, by the end of the class
Draw a timeline of America’s founding, from 1763-1803.
Explain the four principal eras of the American founding: pamphlet, war, confederal, and modern.
Give your own, well-supported answer to the question: Was 1776 a revolution?
Describe how the Constitution of 1789 relates to the Constitution of 2023.
General Class Structure and Information
Meeting Time & Place
Class will meet for two hours (2:00-4:00pm) on Sunday, beginning February 4 and ending March 3. Our classroom is near Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Classes will be structured as seminars, not lectures. The overall arc of the course begins by introducing critical terms and ideas, reading legislation, writing legislation, consolidating knowledge, and ends with an exam.
There will be breaks about every 30 minutes. Eat snacks and do what you need to do then. And since class will be in the winter, and people will be coming in from the cold: please make sure to blow your nose and clear out sniffles before class, and as needed.
You cannot miss more than one of the five class sessions. But if something comes up, just let me know and we can improvise.
If you are going to be late to class, you will need to text or email me with your approximate ETA. Don’t feel embarrassed or squirrely about being late, just let me know so I can conduct class accordingly.
Class Preparation & Homework:
There will be readings for each class, small class projects, and a final exam that is graded pass/fail. Plan to allocate at least 2-4 hours a week for this work. Final exams will be taken during your last class. If you fail the exam, you fail the class—but you can retake it once.
You will have to create a Substack blog for all classes (reasonable substitutions can be accommodated). Each week’s homework will include one Substack post that will be reviewed by me. While I encourage students to keep their blogs public and share their progress, you can make your blog private too. You must complete all of these assignments to pass the class.
Join the Maximum New York Discord. Class participants will be added to a Maximum New York Discord server, which will be our primary mode of communication for coursework, office hours, and general discussion. There will be a code of conduct you need to accept to join the Discord, similar to the class expectations and etiquette outlined in the next section.
And after the course, the real fun of government and politics begins. It’s an open world.
Class Expectations & Etiquette
The classroom environment I encourage is one of exploration, curiosity, playfulness, and charity/tolerance; if you have dug-in political ideas, you need to let those go, at least for the duration of the class. We are here to explore the facts of history, as best as we can ascertain them, and to discuss the political philosophy of the American founders.
This class has three formal rules of etiquette that you must follow:
No bullshitting, aka be concrete. We’re all here to learn together, but we’re doing it in a rigorous fashion. You must always strive to deeply understand the reality of governance that underpins your political thought.
Extend grace to everyone. We’re here to learn together. Government and politics are complicated fields, and no one knows everything. We will be better, together.
Anger is the rare exception, and a friendly “what the hell” is the norm. Taking things seriously does not mean being mad about them. The wider world can pressure people to get mad to prove that they take political ideas seriously. I do not equate anger with either sophistication or dedication, so I relieve you of that burden. Make jokes, be serious, push back, learn a lot. But give yourself (and others) a break while you’re in class.
About Your Instructor
Hello, my name is Daniel Golliher (goll- as in the gall, the nerve, and the audacity; iher- as in how they say “your” where I come from: Gol-yer). I’ve lived in New York City for five years. Besides my writing on this website, you can learn more about me on Twitter, and my personal blog. I’ve written a few books, play the piano and sax, enjoy all manner of physical fitness, and can’t wait to meet you.
I graduated from Harvard College in 2014 with a degree in Government1, and since then I’ve worked in the legal industry, a coffee shop, higher ed, the legal industry again, and now I dedicate my time to Maximum New York.
The following is a general outline of subjects that we will cover in class. Additions and subtractions will be made according to student interest and competency.
Class 1: Introduction and “The Pamphlet Era,” 1763-1776
What happened in the run-up to the war? What caused it? Could it have been prevented?
The French and Indian War or the Seven Years’ War? perspectives from the U.S. and Europe.
We have always blogged: what the Americans and British said to each other, and how they said it (pamphlets).
Class 2: The Revolutionary War and Confederal Era, 1776-1789
A summary overview of the war.
The Treaty of Paris, 1783.
The French Revolution, compared with the American.
What is a revolution? What ramifications does this question have for today?
The dysfunction of the Articles of Confederation and the chaos of the 1780s.
The Constitutional Convention of 1787, and the failed revision attempts before it.
The adoption of the Constitution.
Class 3: Birth of the Modern System, 1789-1803, part 1
The Bill of Rights.
The doctrine of incorporation, Barron ex rel. Tiernan v. Mayor of Baltimore (1833).
The Judiciary Act of 1789.
The founding of Washington, D.C., 1790.
Chisholm v. Georgia (1793); the jurisdiction of SCOTUS, federalism, and the 11th amendment
The Naval Act of 1794 and the Barbary Pirates.
Marbury v. Madison (1803).
Class 4: Birth of the Modern System, 1789-1803, part 2
A comparison of the Constitution of 1789 with that of 2023
A brief overview of the modern system