News and Events
Professor Gordon Lloyd Launches New Web Site Tool: "Constitutional Convention Attendance Record"
In celebration of Constitution Day 2009, Gordon Lloyd, professor of public policy, announced the launch of an interactive tool on his Web site Teachingamericanhistory.org, which visually demonstrates which delegates were present at each meeting of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. The "Constitutional Convention Attendance Record" will allow students to determine, by looking at who was in attendance, how certain issues of the day were resolved or not resolved, due to the influence of who was and wasn’t there.
The Convention lasted four months of discussions and arguments by people of different backgrounds and with different agendas. The idea of creating a record of the day-by-day voting attendees came to Lloyd when he realized that the people who voted were as key to the shaping of the document as the votes themselves.
"One example of why it will be a useful tool came two years ago I was at a conference and someone said they didn't think the founders had an extensive discussion about slavery, because if they did Alexander Hamilton – who was very anti-slave – would be speaking all the time," says Lloyd. "And I had to gently tell him that Alexander Hamilton wasn't there when they were discussing slavery. So it can help avoid mistakes and misinterpretation."
Gathering the information was an exhaustive process of checking the records of which states voted on any given day, giving an insight into delegate attendance, as well as correspondence between delegates traveling to Philadelphia over the four months to replace one another, and payroll receipts. Individual votes were not recorded, so as to encourage attendees to feel free to change their minds in later votes following extensive debate.
The new addition is another feather in the cap of Lloyd's popular and influential web project. The section about the Convention has received over 3.6 million hits in just five years, apparently beating Wikipedia's stats. "That should encourage my students that I know what I'm doing!" says Lloyd.
Constitution Day celebrates September 17, 1787, when the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention held their final meeting. Only one item of business occupied the agenda that day: to sign the Constitution of the United States of America. In celebration of that historic signing, Constitution Day is remembered every year with special programs and events at schools and libraries throughout the nation. Constitution Day as a federal holiday was created in 2004.
Lloyd earned his bachelor's degree in economics and political science at McGill University. He completed all coursework toward a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago before receiving his master's and PhD degrees in government at Claremont Graduate School. The coauthor of three books on the American founding and author of two forthcoming publications on political economy, he also has numerous articles and book reviews to his credit.
His areas of research span the California constitution, common law, the New Deal, slavery and the Supreme Court, and the relationship between politics and economics. He has received many teaching, research, and leadership awards including admission to Phi Beta Kappa and an appointment as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar for the Oklahoma Scholarship Leadership Program.