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The Story of the American Constitution—Beginning with the Mayflower Compact on the 400th Anniversary of Its Voyage to America

December 5, 2020 @ 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

| Free

An American Story, A National Legacy

On November 21, 1620 (November 11, old calendar), the English ship Mayflower arrived in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, carrying 102 English emigrants from Plymouth, England. Prior to its landing at Plymouth, Massachusetts, 41 adult male passengers aboard signed a document that pledged to establish “a civil body of politick” among themselves. The document, now known the Mayflower Compact, was the first voluntarily signed political agreement in the United States history, establishing a precedent for the making of United States Constitution in 1787. The Constitution, enacted in 1789, has since been regarded as “the supreme Law of the Land,” on which the survival and development of the American Republic has relied until today. Why and how was the Constitution created? How was it structured then? What was it supposed to function? How did the Constitution evolve to meet new challenges at various times in its long history of 200-plus years? What are the current challenges that it confronts? These will be the questions to be addressed by Professor Wang Xi at this lecture.

Wang Xi received his Ph.D. in American history from Columbia University. He is currently a professor of history at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, specializing in the history of 19th-century United States, African American history, and history of American constitutionalism. He held a Boya Professorship in the History Department, Peking University, from 2008 to 2020. He has authored, among other things, The Trial of Democracy: Black Suffrage and Northern Republicans, 1860-1910 (1997) and Principles and Compromises: The Spirit and Practice of the American Constitution (expanded edition, 2014). His translation work includes The Story of American Freedom (2002) and Give Me Liberty: An American History (2010), both of which were authored by the prominent American historian Eric Foner.

Free, but advanced registration is requested.

400年前的1620年9月16日,“五月花”号帆船(Mayflower)由英国的普利茅斯启程出发前往北美,船上载有102名乘客和30名左右的船员。乘客中有清教徒、工匠 、渔民、农民及契约奴。他们飘洋过海的目的各不相同,有的是寻求宗教自由,有的是想开启一种新生活。经过66天的艰苦航行,“五月花”于11月21日(旧历11月11日)抵达马萨诸塞州的鳕鱼角(Cape Cod), 12月18日抵达今天马萨诸塞州的普利茅斯(Plymouth),并在那儿建立了新英格兰地区第一个英国永久性殖民地。资料显示美国现今有3千多万人跟五月花号上的102名乘客和30名左右的船员有血缘关系。

“五月花”号在抵达鳕鱼角后,乘客中的41名英国清教徒在船上签署了《五月花号公约》,相互承诺要在新大陆建立一个“公民政府” (a civil body of politick)。这是美国历史上最早的公民政治契约,为后来美国联邦宪法的制定建立了先例,而联邦宪法自1789年起便成为美利坚民族赖以生存和发展的基本法,延续至今。美国宪法是如何制定的?它的目的、结构和内容是什么?在两个多世纪的美国历史上,它是如何不断演变以适应新的历史环境和挑战的?它目前面临的挑战是什么?华美人文学会特邀美国宪法史研究专家王希教授于12月5日(周六)晚8时至9时半(北京时间12月6日上午9时至10时半)做“美国宪法的故事——从《五月花号公约》说起”专题讲座。王教授在讲座中将勾画美国宪法历史的轮廓,并讨论上述问题。

主讲人王希,美国哥伦比亚大学历史系美国史博士,宾夕法尼亚州印第安纳大学(Indiana University of Pennsylvania)历史系教授(1994至今),北京大学历史学系博雅讲座教授(2008-2020),研究领域为:19世纪美国历史、非裔美国人历史、美国宪政史。著有 The Trial of Democracy: Black Suffrage and Northern Republicans, 1860-1910、《原则与妥协:美国宪法的精神与实践》;译著包括:《美国自由的故事》、《给我自由:一部美国的历史》。

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December 5, 2020
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
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