Jefferson Expert to Speak at MSU for Constitution Day

Sep 18

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

STARKVILLE, Miss. — A nationally recognized scholar and author from Rice University will speak Monday September 18 about how Thomas Jefferson’s attitudes regarding government power, free expression and protection of liberties evolved over his lifetime.

Constitution Day celebrates the signing of the US Constitution on September 17, 1789.  Federal law requires all publically funded educational institutions to recognize the occasion by offering programming on the Constitution’s history and principles.  This year MSU is honored to celebrate Constitution Day with a lecture by John Boles of Rice University.
Boles will present “Jefferson’s Constitutionalism: Words to Protect our Liberties,” in association with the Lamar Conerly Governance Lecture Series.  The event is sponsored by the Department of Political Science and Public Administration and the College of Arts and Sciences Institute for the Humanities.  The lecture will take place at 4 p.m. in the Bill R. Foster Ballroom U of the Colvard Student Union.  It is free and open to the public.
“John B. Boles has left an indelible impression on the study of the American past,” said Dr. Andrew Lang, assistant professor in the history department at MSU and former advisee of Dr. Boles. A “celebrated expert on the history of the American South,” Boles has authored or edited eighteen books on southern history, religion, culture and race relations, said Lang.
Although Jefferson was not a member of the Constitutional Convention, Boles’s study of Jefferson indicates the founding father had drafted four constitutions for the state of Virginia. His view of the constitution was not rigid; rather, Jefferson believed it could and should be changed as the nation matured.
In 2013, Boles stepped down as editor of the Journal of Southern History, a post he held for thirty years. A graduate of Thomas Jefferson’s alma matter, the University of Virginia, Boles was awarded the William P. Hobby Professor of History at Rice University, where he has taught since 1981.
Boles’s most recent book, “Jefferson: Architect of American Liberty” delves into the complicated history of Thomas Jefferson.
Former Washington Post critic Johnathan Yardley came out of retirement to review Boles’s book, referring to it as “magisterial . . . perhaps the finest one-volume biography of an American president.”
Director of the Institute for Humanities at MSU William Anthony Hay said “rarely have I seen any review so positive as this one.” 
Hay, a critic for The Wall Street Journal, said Boles’s newest book is “a sympathetic …. view of Jefferson that emphasizes the differences between his world and ours…. [a] splendid biography.”
The Jack Miller Center ( is providing a grant for this program. 
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