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Constitution Day, Sept. 18, will have lecture on Hamilton’s theory of democratic collapse

As the nation gears up to commemorate Constitution Day on Sept. 18, a thought-provoking conversation awaits all those interested in the preservation of democracy.

Dr. Eli Merritt, a political historian at Vanderbilt University, will delve into Alexander Hamilton’s timeless theory of democratic collapse during a virtual presentation hosted at the Rochelle Center.

This theory, based on Hamilton’s writings in The Federalist Papers, posits that democracy’s custodians must vigilantly uphold checks and balances to thwart the ascent of demagogues to executive power. According to Hamilton, these charismatic leaders can transform into tyrants, ultimately endangering the very democracy that catapulted them into office.

Dr. Merritt’s presentation, scheduled for 1 p.m., on Monday, Sept. 18, will be accessible via Zoom at

Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers and co-author of The Federalist Papers, remains a central figure in the discourse surrounding the preservation of democratic ideals. Hamilton’s prescient analysis of the dangers of unchecked executive power is as relevant today as it was when he first articulated it in the late 18th century.

Merritt, an scholar in the field of political history, has dedicated his career to studying the ethical underpinnings of democracy and the delicate balance between democracy and demagoguery. His research has illuminated the ways in which charismatic leaders, once elevated to high office, can morph from champions of the people into threats to the very democratic systems that brought them to power.

In a world where the rise of demagogues and the erosion of democratic norms remain pressing concerns, the insights offered by Merritt’s examination of Hamilton’s theory are particularly pertinent. The presentation promises to shed light on the critical role that checks and balances play in safeguarding democracy against the potentially destructive tendencies of those who wield power.

As the nation reflects on the Constitution’s enduring significance this Constitution Day, Merritt’s discussion of Hamilton’s theory serves as a reminder that the principles of democracy are not immutable, and their preservation requires the constant vigilance of informed citizens and dedicated scholars.

Constitution Day is an occasion for citizens to come together to honor the enduring legacy of the U.S. Constitution and to engage in discussions that foster a deeper understanding of the principles that underpin our democracy. Merritt’s exploration of Alexander Hamilton’s theory of democratic collapse promises to be a thought-provoking and timely contribution to this important national conversation.

All are invited to join the virtual presentation on Monday, Sept. 18, at 1 p.m., to gain valuable insights into the challenges facing modern democracies and the enduring wisdom of the Founding Fathers. In the spirit of Constitution Day, let us all engage in meaningful dialogue and reflection on the principles that continue to shape our nation’s destiny.

This article was generated by from information provided by the Volunteer State Community College History Department.

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