Friday, December 18, 2015

[261] Insider’s view of constitutional convention participants on ‘MTSU On the Record’

MURFREESBORO — The personal and professional impressions of a little-known participant in the U.S. Constitutional Convention will be analyzed on the next “MTSU On the Record” program.

Host Gina Logue’s interview with John Vile, constitutional law expert and dean of the University Honors College, will air from 5:30-6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21, and from 8-8:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 27, on WMOT-FM (89.5 and

Vile is the author of “The Wisest Council in the World,” a compilation of character sketches of convention delegates by one of their peers, William Pierce of Georgia.

While contributing relatively little to the Constitution’s creation in 1787, Pierce’s comments about his colleagues, sometimes revelatory and sometimes snarky, provide unique insights into a pivotal event in American history.

For example, Pierce praised James Madison of Virginia, the so-called “Father of the Constitution,” by writing, “From a spirit of industry and application which he possesses in a most eminent degree, he always comes forward the best informed man of any point in debate.”

On the other hand, Pierce described James McHenry of Maryland as “a man of specious talents with nothing of genius to improve them.”

Of Alexander Hamilton of New York, who later became the first secretary of the treasury, Pierce wrote, “His manners are tinctured with stiffness and sometimes with a degree of vanity that is highly disagreeable.”

“There’s every indication through the literary allusions that he uses that he was classically educated, and part of classical education … often involved much more florid speaking than we’re accustomed to today,” said Vile.

To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, go to and click the “more” link under “Audio Clips.”

For more information, contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.

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