TCU professor gives Constitution Week lecture at Kinder Institute

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” TCU professor Gene Smith said. “It’s important to talk about the process of history and of constitutional development.”
Courtesy of Gene Allen Smith Books

Gene Allen Smith, Texas Christian University’s Center for Texas Studies director, gave a lecture on Missouri’s history with the Louisiana Purchase to an intimate audience at the MU Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy on Thursday.

Complete with many maps and Constitutional quotes, Smith’s presentation covered issues that arose when incorporating Louisiana and Missouri into the United States. For Louisiana, this centered around keeping political power in the Union, but the debate was quite different in Missouri, Smith said.

“Because Louisiana emerged as a slave state, people were adamant that Missouri was, too,” Smith said. Although Andrew Jackson promised freedom for men of color and slaves to mobilize forces against the British in the War of 1812, it wasn’t an easy agreement to fulfill, he said.

Smith’s lecture also covered the ideals of a historical figure many MU students are familiar with: Thomas Jefferson, who is represented by a statue along the Francis Quadrangle. Jefferson advocated for the Louisiana Purchase as a way of decreasing foreign threats from Spain and France in the early 1800s, Smith said.

Smith’s visit to MU was a part of Constitution Week, which celebrates Constitution Day, a national day of recognition on Sept. 17 that commemorates the adoption of the U.S. Constitution and naturalized citizens. For this two-day MU event, the Kinder Institute invited two historical scholars to give public lectures at the university.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” said Smith of being able to speak at the university. “It’s important to talk about the process of history and of constitutional development. In the case of Louisiana and Missouri, sometimes it works out smoothly and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Smith has received multiple research awards from Texas Christian University and Montana State University Billings, as well as fellowships from organizations such as the Virginia Historical Society and the U.S. Navy. He has also written and contributed to historical books and publications, including a 2013 Macmillan book titled “The Slaves’ Gamble,” according to his website.

Freshman Karlee Adler attended the lecture for her political science course, The Intellectual World of the American Founders. As a history major, she had a positive response to the talk.

“It was interesting and it was accessible to a lot of people,” Adler sad. “[Smith] explained a lot of the basics early on, so people could come without any prior knowledge and jump right into the details.”

When asked about the importance of Constitution Week and Smith’s lecture, Adler said, “It’s a good opportunity to learn about how history affects our lives and the way we think today.”

Edited by Olivia Garrett |

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