Mysteries of the Presidency: Puzzles of the Federalist Papers and the Constitution: a seminar with Kermit Roosevelt

Date / Time

  • October 7, 2023
    10:00 am - 2:00 pm


2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103, United States

This program is sponsored by Renée Sackey in memory of her late husband David Rosenbach Sackey.   


  • This is an in-person program held at the Rosenbach. Please check your spam folder for your email confirmation. If you have questions, please call (215) 732-1600 or email [email protected].
  • $75 | Light refreshments served at lunchtime 
  • Registration opens for Delancey Society members on Wednesday, August 16, for Rosenbach members on Wednesday, August 23, and for the general public on Wednesday, August 30.



The office of the President is defined in Article II of the Constitution and explained in several of the Federalist papers. Despite its apparent simplicity, it has given rise to a number of difficulties and puzzles over the years — some of which have been solved by constitutional amendment, and some of which remain unresolved to this day. This seminar will explore the presidency, first as it was set out in Article II and described in the Federalist Papers, and then as it has evolved over time. We will consider the puzzles that have been solved, and those that haven’t, and the broader lessons they hold about the Constitution and America.  

This seminar will also include a curator-led tour of the Rosenbach’s special exhibition, Succession: Why Presidential History Matters Now, as well as a collections show and tell highlighting letters exchanged between Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach and book collector Franklin Delano Roosevelt.   

Our schedule for the seminar. Activities will begin at 10:00 am and end at 2:00 pm.   

9:45am Check-in 

10:00am Curator-led tour of our Succession exhibition   

10:30am Short talk by Kermit Roosevelt 

11:00am Discussion 

11:30am Light lunch with conversation  

12:00pm Discussion with Kermit Roosevelt 

1:00pm Collections show and tell 

pdf Required Reading

About the Instructor

Kermit Roosevelt is the David Berger Professor for the Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, a former clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter, and an award-winning author. His novels include Allegiance and In the Shadow of the Law, and his nonfiction includes The Myth of Judicial Activism: Making Sense of Supreme Court Decisions and The Nation that Never Was: Reconstructing America’s Story. Roosevelt’s law review articles have been cited twice by the Supreme Court. He is a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School. Professor Roosevelt has previously spoken at the Rosenbach on Federalist Paper No. 46, and also led a course that explored the ideas that shaped American history, law, and culture through the documents and books in the Rosenbach’s American history collection.