Those of us who love to study the American Founding, especially the Constitutional Convention, have lost a great scholar, teacher, and friend. Gordon Lloyd, as professor at Pepperdine University, distinguished professor in Ashland University’s Master of Arts in American History and Government program, and Senior Fellow at Ashbrook, dedicated nearly forty years to the study and teaching of the American Founding.
I had the distinct honor of teaching the MAHG course on The American Founding with Gordon for twelve years. I can say without any hesitation that no other person knew the Constitutional Convention – especially James Madison’s Debates in the Federal Convention – as thoroughly and deeply as Gordon. The knowledge I gained of the American Founding simply from being in Gordon’s presence is immeasurable. But Gordon gave students so much more than just knowledge and facts. He was without doubt a masterful teacher.
Every summer, just before the class began, he would enter the room, his eyes lit with anticipation at the opportunity to discuss his most beloved topic with eager and thoughtful students. If you were a student of Gordon’s in a MAHG class or at a teacher seminar, I’m sure you can remember the first time he opened your eyes to some previously unknown truth about the American Founding, or nearly blew your mind with the twists and turns of events as they unfolded at the Constitutional Convention. I have met no other thinker who had a more detailed yet capacious view of the American Founding, and who could help others see it so vividly through his teaching.
It is true that Gordon wanted his students to come away with a deeper appreciation of the American Founding, and to see, despite its imperfections, the great and lasting good in it. He loved to teach students about it, but not in a dogmatic way. He hoped students would see the real challenges the Founders had to overcome; but he also wanted them to discover these things by thinking deeply for themselves, and to find those things that they found personally interesting and important about the American Founding.
That is one reason why the websites on the Constitutional Convention, Ratification, and The Bill of Rights that Gordon created for Ashbrook were so important. These resources provide an incredible wealth of information to students and teachers of the American Founding. As Gordon frequently said, the websites were meant to provide multiple avenues by which one could approach and get to know the American Founders. And though they provide an incredible amount of information, the websites also raise important questions, and thereby encourage continuing discussions about the American Founding and, by extension, America itself.
Gordon’s work on the American Founding lives on through Ashbrook’s new website AmericanFounding.org. Recently we’ve added a new chapter on The Declaration of Independence. Ashbrook plans to continue adding new content and resources, as was Gordon’s wish, so that these websites can continue to prove useful and insightful for future students and teachers.
If you had the pleasure of knowing Gordon, I encourage you to remember him by taking a walk through the AmericanFounding.org website. If you didn’t have the chance to meet him in person, get to know him and the American Founders through his lasting work with Ashbrook. I’m sure nothing would make him happier.