American Founders Luncheon Series
The Rivers Club, Pittsburgh
One Oxford Centre, 301 Grant Street

Dr. Colleen A. Sheehan
September 23, 2014American Founders Luncheon
“James Madison and Our First Duty”

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James Madison regarded the freedom of religion and the freedom of conscience as natural rights. He believed that the obligation of every human being to God is in fact a higher obligation than his duty to country. Madison agreed with his friend Thomas Jefferson that the basis of all human freedom lies in our nature, and particularly in the freedom of the human mind. Jefferson’s fundamental claim that “Almighty God hath created the mind free” meant both that men possess free will and that they—and governments—have a moral obligation to respect other human beings in their free exercise of religion and conscience. In the United States today, the right of religious freedom is attacked in the name of a higher obligation to respect selected secular rights—the right of women to choose abortion or of gays and lesbians to marry, for example. Can the contemporary view of rights be reconciled with the natural rights philosophy at the core of the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution?

Join us on September 23, 2014, at Pittsburgh’s Rivers Club to hear Dr. Colleen Sheehan discuss “James Madison and Our First Duty.” To register, please contact Mrs. Brenda Vinton at blvinton@gcc.edu or (724) 450-1541. And, please bring a friend. The cost of lunch is $17.76.


Colleen3Colleen A. Sheehan earned her B.A. from Eisenhower College and received her M.A. and Ph.D. in government from Claremont Graduate School. She is a professor of politics and director of the Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good at Villanova University, where she teaches courses in American Political Thought and Politics and Literature. She has served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and is currently a member of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education. She is author of “James Madison and the Spirit of Republican Self-Government” (Cambridge University Press, 2009), co-editor of “Friends of the Constitution: Writings of the Other Federalists 1787-1788,” and author of numerous articles on the American Founding and 18th century political and moral thought. Her writings have appeared in journals such the “William and Mary Quarterly,” “American Political Science Review,” “Review of Politics,” and “Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal.”  Her new book on James Madison, “The Mind of the Founder: James Madison and the Legacy of Classical Republicanism, is scheduled for release from Cambridge University Press in November 2014. She is currently collaborating with Jack Rakove on a collection of writings on “The Federalist.”

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