Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Leading Early American Scholarship Since 1943


Doing History

What is the history of the American Revolution? The answer is not simple.

While season 1 looked at how historians work, the mission of season 2, Doing History: To the Revolution, is to ask how different historians interpret the events and people at the center of the American Revolution and to help listeners see the connections—and possible disconnects—between the different approaches.

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Episode 141: A Declaration in Draft

Declaration of Independence has shaped debates about rights and liberty for over two centuries both in the United States and around the world. Inspired by a document that has become an American scripture, more than 100 nation-states and freedom organizations since 1776 have modeled their own founding documents on the first written declaration of independence in the world.

On its 241st anniversary, “A Declaration in Draft” takes listeners behind the parchment of the Declaration of Independence. Three prominent historians tell the story of how the Declaration’s three primary authors—John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin—joined forces to deliver this iconic manifesto to the Second Continental Congress.

The episode’s guests include Danielle Allen, a historian at Harvard University, MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, and author of Our Declaration; Peter Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Professor Emeritus of American History at the University of Virginia and a founding host of the podcast Backstory; and Patrick Spero, the Librarian of the American Philosophical Society, which Benjamin Franklin helped to found.

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Supporting this series helps to meet one of the chief aims of the Lapidus Initiative: to make more transparent the intensive and collaborative processes of developing and producing high-quality scholarship. It also offers us a new and exciting opportunity for public outreach.