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American Ideals: Founding a "Republic of Virtue"

Trace the dominant features of the early American ethos that culminated in declaring independence and organizing the constitutional form of government unheralded in political history.
American Ideals: Founding a "Republic of Virtue" is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 105.
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Rated 2 out of 5 by from An informative opinionated at times presentation I enjoyed the first 9 lectures and their presentation. But when Dr. Robinson presented the Federalist Papers in the 10th lecture, the simple argument of the Anti-Federalist segment of the committee was over looked. To me the Anti-Federalists argument was simply that the Federalists presented the proposed constitution as a take it or leave it proposal, as it would take to long to alter what was the to them "The best that could be done". Where as the Anti-Federalists felt there were certain items that needed to be amended before approval of the document should be reached. The lack of limits to the houses of congress members terms, the occasional supposition that the proposed federal government would not over reach their authority, even the lack of a bill of rights, were all topics that were in question. It was not that the Anti-Federalists didn't want the Constitution, they just wanted to verify that they were not signing into what they had just fought to get away from. And since the proposed Constitution was the initial work of three individuals who claimed and at times demanded that their work could not be questioned, some wanted the chance for their opinions to be considered by the masses. Yet this side of the coin was bypassed Then when we get to the 11th lecture, with the presenting of comments on the second amendment, Dr. Robinson cited that the framers of our constitution did not intend this right to mean it would be okay to have a well armed Humvee running through the streets of any city. With that opinion I'm also sure that the framers did not envision the government having supersonic fighter jets nor aerial bombers in their own arsenals. But what they talked about were what they had witnessed with their own eyes, a militia with their own weapons, the same style weapon that the British used, yet even out numbered were able to win the day. They certainly did not see a British army with rifles come against a militia armed with only swords and clubs. So again I would opine that they envisioned weapons on both sides being of the same level of advancement though possibly more abundant on one side over the other. As it had been throughout history in all conflicts. but we only get presented with an opinionated viewpoint on a two sided topic.
Date published: 2024-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course! This is an excellent course for a history buff. In particular, American history on the period of founding to revolutionary war is most alluding and interesting. Professor is very knowledgeable, stylistic in his delivery, and knows how to present to a global audience. This is a must-take course for American history enthusiasts for sure!
Date published: 2023-12-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very informative I purchased this course because I love this period in history. The professor is extremely knowledgeable, however, it would have held my attention more if he had not read from a script and stepped away from the lecturn.
Date published: 2023-08-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exceptional This insightful course is delivered with a passion and command that will certainly energize the student. The depth of the material was most welcome. It is profoundly important to understand the time in which the founders lived, and the history that affected their thinking. Your professor delivers all of this and more. I also enjoyed the presentation format -- standing at lectern presenting to an audience. I felt Professor Robinson was speaking to me, not a camera.
Date published: 2022-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from exemplar of virtue I am a retired law professor and have some experience of lectures. These are just first rate. A fine exposition of the underlying basis of our government and public life:The old Roman concept of VIRTU.Public virtue in service to the common good. Very,very well done..
Date published: 2021-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The "Inside Baseball" of our country's origin. Dr. Robinson gives an "behind the curtain" look of the basic principles and principals of the creation of our country. Wonkish but very interesting, he is like the Bill James of history, giving inside information on the basic founding thoughts of the only country created by ideas. My only complaint is that it is only 12 lectures long. He could have easily tripled it. What else has he done? The video aspect was unnecessary, as you just see a classically professorially looking man acting professorial.
Date published: 2021-09-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Four courses that would make a great set I purchased the following courses separately but at the same time (i.e. Not as a set). I think they would make a great "set". They are "American Ideals: Founding a Republic of Virtue" (Robinson) ,"Origins and Ideologies of the American Revolution" (Mancall), "America's Founding Fathers" (Guelzo), "The American Mind" (Guelzo). I have read the other critiques and agree with some of their "critical comments". However, it is the big picture that matters. These four classes form a good basis for a study of American politics and philosophy. These courses collectively take you through pre-American-revolution thought and relations with Britain at the time, various political parties, various religious groups that had an input, splinter groups, and the opinions of various "founding fathers". "The American Mind" brings us up to modern times. These courses, collectively, provide a better explanation of the trials, tribulations, arguments, and compromises made in forming America than I ever got in school. (I was NOT a history major.) These courses are not just about what happened when. They are about the conflicting ideas, arguments, and compromises that got us the important documents (i.e. Articles of Confederation, Constitution, etc..) and how those documents have been interpreted over time.
Date published: 2021-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Fantastic I purchased this years ago and absolutely love it. The professors engaging style and knowledge are fantastic. His grasp of the origins and ideals of this great country are phenomenal.
Date published: 2020-12-30
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In these carefully crafted dozen lectures, Professor Robinson traces the dominant features of the early American ethos that culminated in declared independence and a constitutional form of government unheralded in political history. The United States of America was, after all, the first nation ever to be created by persons whose names we know and on grounds developed through debate and deliberation.


Daniel N. Robinson

Developments in philosophy are chiefly in the form of greater clarity, an ever more refined sense of just what makes the problem problematic. If ignorance is not thereby totally overcome, at least it is exposed.


Philosophy Faculty, Oxford University; Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, Georgetown University

Dr. Daniel N. Robinson (1937–2018) was a member of the philosophy faculty at Oxford University, where he lectured annually since 1991. He was also Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, at Georgetown University, on whose faculty he served for 30 years. He was formerly Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, and he also held positions at Amherst College and at Princeton University.

Professor Robinson earned his PhD in Neuropsychology from City University of New York. He was president of two divisions of the American Psychological Association: the Division of History of Psychology, from which he received the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Division of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, from which he received the Distinguished Contribution Award.

Professor Robinson was the author or editor of more than 40 books, including Wild Beasts & Idle Humours: The Insanity Defense from Antiquity to the Present, An Intellectual History of Psychology, The Mind: An Oxford Reader, and Aristotle's Psychology. He was the editor of the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology. He also published widely on the constitutional history of the US and its philosophical foundations, with original research appearing in the International Journal of Constitutional Law and The American Journal of Jurisprudence. He was coeditor of The American Founding: Its Intellectual and Moral Framework (London: Continuum, 2012).

By This Professor

The Colonists as Faithful Subjects

01: The Colonists as Faithful Subjects

In pamphlets and pulpits of the colonies, one is reminded of the close, even familial ties extending across an ocean, strengthened by customs and values shaped over centuries.

31 min
Colonial Constitutions and Their Inspiration

02: Colonial Constitutions and Their Inspiration

Trade between colonies and with Great Britain and other nations called for orderly procedures, as did governance of growing communities and steady influx of immigrants.

30 min

03: Who "Founded" the United States?

As colonial constitutions were fashioned, the context within which deliberations and strategies were conducted was that of the Enlightenment. The United States was "founded" as much by ideas as by men.

30 min
Taxation Without Representation

04: Taxation Without Representation

The colonies had returned to the crown, over a period of years, revenues exceeding what was expected. What, then, was all the fuss about the Stamp Act, and why were 10 tons of Darjeeling sent to the bottom of Boston Harbor?

30 min
The Declaration of Independence

05: The Declaration of Independence

This document is the first of its kind: one that announces the creation of a new nation and the need to provide reasons for this precipitous measure. It is a veritable "text" on the manner in which political issues are to be understood.

30 min
The Royalist View of the Revolution

06: The Royalist View of the Revolution

In the colonies and Great Britain, the American Revolution was cast as a rebellion against the rule of law. This sheds light on colonial debates on political authority.

30 min
The Articles of Confederation

07: The Articles of Confederation

The "articles" were the product of danger and emergency; principles for joint action among the colonies for the express purpose of waging a war of independence.

30 min
The Constitution of the United States, Part 1

08: The Constitution of the United States, Part 1

In the brutally hot Philadelphia months, a diverse and argumentative assembly met for unclear purposes.

30 min
The Constitution of the United States, Part 2

09: The Constitution of the United States, Part 2

The "miracle" in Philadelphia was a great achievement of mind and will, accomplished through debate, the counsel of the wise, and the discipline of enlightened self interest.

30 min

10: Publius

The 85 Federalist Papers by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay comprise detailed and analytical arguments for and against governance as envisaged by the Constitution.

30 min
With Liberty and Justice For All

11: With Liberty and Justice For All

Once set forth, the Bill of Rights simply underscored the evil of slavery. How did the founders understand this?

30 min
Paine and Burke

12: Paine and Burke

How Tom Paine and Edmund Burke saw the French and American Revolutions clarifies tensions and unique potentialities embedded in the new nation's ideals and institutions.

31 min