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Read the Revolution Speaker Series with Linda Colley

The Gun, the Ship, and the Pen: Warfare, Constitutions, and the Making of the Modern World (Liveright, 2021)

An incandescent, paradigm-shifting new book.
Jill Lepore in The New Yorker

Bringing to life stories of struggle and the ideas of lawmakers, committed rebels and ambitious monarchs and generals, Linda Colley reshapes our understanding of the modern world through the evolution and spread of written constitutions. 

“An incandescent, paradigm-shifting new book” (Jill Lepore in The New Yorker), Colley's book, The Gun, the Ship, and the Pen: Warfare, Constitutions, and the Making of the Modern World (Liveright, released March 30, 2021) traces the global history of written constitutions from the 1750s to the 20th century, modifying accepted narratives and uncovering the close and frequent connections between the making of constitutions and the making of war. Through meticulous research, Colley shows how constitutions crossed continents, at times aiding the rise of empires and monarchies as well as the emergence of new nations and republics.

In this virtual presentation on May 20, broadcast live from the Museum, Colley will offer a global perspective on American state and federal constitutions as the Museum prepares for the opening of its summer exhibition, Flags and Founding Documents, 1776-Today, which will include a display of historic early state constitutions. Museum President & CEO Dr. R. Scott Stephenson will join the discussion to explore how the rise and spread of written constitutions evolved in tandem with warfare before facilitating a live Q&A with the virtual audience.

"A book of stupendous range and originality, The Gun, The Ship, and the Pen delivers an ambitious new account of the making of the modern world. Linda Colley has an unparalleled ability to bring together the histories of ideas, politics, and people, and to distill prodigious learning into a narrative that is at once incisively argued and an immense pleasure to read. Rippling with fresh interpretations, startling connections, and remarkable stories, this is a masterpiece of global history by one of the greatest historians working today." ― Maya Jasanoff, Harvard University

About Linda Colley

Read the Revolution Speaker Series with Linda Colley

The Shelby M.C. Davis 1958 Professor of History at Princeton University, Linda Colley is the author of seven books including Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837, winner of the Wolfson Prize, and The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh, a New York Times “Top 10” Book-of-the-Year. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Read the Revolution is sponsored by The Haverford Trust Company.

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This image depicts the book cover of The Gun, The Ship, and The Pen by Linda Colley. The text of the title is written in large blue letters. There is an illustration, pictures vertically on the left side of the book cover. It shows a sailor, with his back to the viewer, looking out at a ship on fire in the sea.

The Gun, the Ship, and the Pen

Read an excerpt from historian Linda Colley's new book, The Gun, the Ship, and the Pen: Warfare, Constitutions, and the Making of the Modern World.
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Exhibits Flags Founding Docs Preview Dsc5626

Flags and Founding Documents, 1776-Today

June 12 - September 6, 2021
The Museum's summer 2021 exhibit showcased dozens of rare American flags alongside historic early state constitutions and the first printing of the proposed U.S. Constitution of 1787 to shed light on the triumphs and tensions that the United States faced as new states joined the Union.
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Read the Revolution Speaker Series with Vincent Brown

Read the Revolution Speaker Series

The Read the Revolution Speaker Series brings celebrated authors and historians to the Museum for lively, facilitated discussions of their work.
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