John Dickinson was widely influential in his era, Dunn explained, and is remembered for writing the first drafts of the First Amendment. Known as the “Penman of the Revolution,” Dickinson's contributions to political thought included his famous “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania,” “Olive Branch Petition” and then the “Articles of Confederation.” His failed arguments against independence in 1776 did not prevent him from serving in the Revolutionary War. He even drafted an artillery manual while serving in the Continental Army, said Dunn. Freel remarked that Dickinson’s contribution could be seen even in music with the “Liberty Song,” widely popular in his era (Songs of America, Meacham and McGraw, 2019).
In the second panel discussion, politicians and policy makers debated whether the Constitution should be interpreted according to the “originalism” view or as a “living document.” Nancy Karibjanian, director of the Center for Political Communication, moderated the discussion with Bryan Townsend and Anthony Delcollo, State Senators from the 7th and 11th district; Professor Leland Ware, Louis L. Redding Chair for the Study of Law and Public Policy; and Claire DeMatteis, commissioner of the Department of Correction. State Senator Townsend believed that the nation must change to adapt to the current era that often sees money in politics and some undemocratic features of the Constitution. State Senator Delcollo believed that the current system should be preserved and that policy makers should solve current issues by looking at the “intent” of sections of the Constitution.
Commissioner DeMatteis thought that the resiliency of the Constitution can continue as it has through the Civil War and Reconstruction Period and the Vietnam War. She also believed that the only way that things can change is through the involvement of younger generations.