The Portrait Conversation
Episode 13
Dr. Nicholas Cole, Historian
Bringing The United States Constitutional Convention to Life:
Context, Compromises & Consequences
February, 2021

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Part 1 (1 hour 34 minutes)
Introduction; Oxford University; Summer interning on Capitol Hill; the influence of ancient Greek and Roman civilizations on America; the time period between the 1776 American Declaration of Independence and the start of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, from dream to details; the confluence of new data and data technology that led to the Quill Project.

Part 2 (1 hour 43 minutes)
Today’s context: the Capitol Hill Riot and the impeachment trial; history of impeachment; history and background to the Electoral College; how slavery was addressed during the Constitutional Convention of 1787; Senate rules and history of the filibuster; democracy versus authoritarianism and the outlook for the future.

The Portrait Conversation welcomes special guest Dr. Nicholas Cole, Senior Research Fellow at Pembroke College, Oxford University, who studies the political thought of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the history of democratic institutions. In this conversation we will discuss the evolution of constitutional democracies and Dr. Cole’s development of the Quill Project, an astounding online resource that meticulously catalogues the day-by-day discussions, debates, negotiations and compromises of the United States Constitutional Convention of 1787. We discuss, from a historical perspective with a focus on what happened during the Constitutional Convention, such pertinent topics of today such as the nature of compromise, impeachment and the Electoral College.

If you’re unfamiliar with the history of the early days of the founding of the United States of America, then I highly recommend listening to the premier episode titled “Framed” of the excellent podcast “Constitutional”.

Dr. Cole’s particular interests are the influence of classical political thought on America’s first politicians, and the search for a new ‘science of politics’ in post-Independence America.

He runs the Quill Project on Negotiated Texts, based at Pembroke College, which studies the creation of constitutions, treaties, and legislation. The Quill software platform (developed with colleagues at the Oxford e-Research Centre) presents a recreation of the original context within which decisions about these texts were made. The flagship work of the project is a presentation of the records of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that wrote the Constitution of the United States and a variety of other projects are planned or in progress. See the Quill Project website for further details.

Dr Cole teaches American History and the history of political thought and supervises graduates working on the history of institutions, political thought and classical reception. He runs the TORCH (Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) network on Negotiated Texts.

Here are some interesting links to check out regarding Dr. Cole’s Quill Project and the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

Please click on these wingtips to support the creation and sharing of art, entertainment and inspiration on this site. Besides a donation, another way to support is by joining which gives you access to hundreds of tutorial videos, custom digital art extras and participation in member-only online courses. The shoes shown in this photo were amongst my first dance shoes when I started Lindy Hop swing dancing and were signed by two of my dance inspirational heroes: Frankie Manning and Norma Miller.

Jeremy Sutton

Originally from London, I studied drawing, sculpture and print-making at the Ruskin School of Fine Art and Drawing, Oxford University (while earning a degree in Physics), and subsequently studied at the Vrije Academie in The Hague, The Netherlands. I\'ve been using digital paint since 1991, including every version of Painter. I love teaching and have taught workshops and given presentations all over the world for the last twenty years. I create commissioned fine art paintings and perform live action painting and digital portraiture. I founded PaintboxTV in February 2009. Thank you for being part of this creative community!

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