Joseph Ellis on America's Founding Choices
"The Adoption of the Constitution" by J. B. Stearns, oil., ca. 1856) (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)

"The Adoption of the Constitution" by J. B. Stearns, oil., ca. 1856. (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)

It’s Election Day, and Americans know that one way or another they are making history today with their vote.

As voters go to the polls, we are going back, to the beginning — to the American Revolution and founders, and to the real story of how they created a nation.

The country’s first turbulent decades were a time of unfolding possibilities, big triumphs, big compromises. America was still being made.

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Joseph Ellis says the founders weren’t gods, and their plans were not pure genius. They weren’t even set on making a democracy with their revolution. But they did. And today we are shaping it still.

This hour, On Point: human then and human now. Historian Joseph Ellis and the story of the American creation.

You can join the conversation. Does it all look etched in stone to you now? Can you imagine a time when it really wasn’t?


We’re joined by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Joseph Ellis, a professor of history at Mount Holyoke College. He is author of “American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic,” now available in paperback. His other books include “His Excellency: George Washington” (2004), “Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation” (2000), and “American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson” (1996).

Read an excerpt from “American Creation” at

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