The proliferation of new written constitutions after 1787 presented British governments with both opportunities and challenges. By way of its empire and international heft -- and increasingly in order to compete with the United States - the United Kingdom came to draft and influence more constitutions in more parts of the world than any other power. But its official classes have always resisted the introduction of a written constitution in the UK itself. Other peoples might need their political systems set down in writing, it was often argued. Britain did not: and its uncodified constitution was thus a demonstration of its distinctiveness. In this presentation, Linda Colley will explore these trends and tensions over time, and discuss how far writing a constitution might now usefully reconfigure the UK.Linda Colley is Shelby M.C. Davis 1958 Professor of History at Princeton University and a Fellow of the British Academy. Her books include Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837 (1992) which won the Wolfson prize; Captives: Britain, Empire and the World, 1600-1850 (2002); and The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in Global History, named by the New York Times as one of the ten best books of 2007.
The seminar will take place at the Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor, Moynihan Boardroom, Ronald Reagan Building, Federal Triangle Metro Stop. Reservations requested because of limited seating: firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-450-3209. A photo ID required for admittance to the building.
The seminar, which meets weekly during the academic year, is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center, with support from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. Schedule, webcasts and podcasts here.