June 15 – 21, 2018Vol. 20, No. 2

Plain, Honest Men

by Martha F. Barkley

The making of the Constitution is right up my neighbor's alley. Richard Beeman fell in love with history upon reading Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowman years and years ago. When I discovered this mutual admiration for a particular history title, we both continued our walk on Point Road talking history the whole way.

Richard — he called himself Rick — appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart about one of his history books. His full time work was with the Constitution Center in Philadelphia and teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. The founding fathers are portrayed as individuals in Plain, Honest Men. I love the title because it is a quote, simple and true. Beeman approaches each member of the Constitutional Convention as a friend, a very well known and understood friend. History buffs who heard Beeman's presentation several summers ago told me that he really knew his stuff!

His voice was beginning to fail at that time. Unfortunately he died last Fall of ALS and the Constitution Center held his memorial service in September. Jeffrey Rosen, among many, spoke to honor his life and work, along with his son Joshua. Rosen is President of The Constitution Center. Both Beeman and Rosen have been on C-SPAN many times revealing history at its best. Try the archives for American History on C-SPAN 3 to hear both speak. I promise you will learn something new about U.S. history.

I wish that I could ask Richard his opinion of the Hamilton smash on Broadway. Last summer, Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter was published. Richard sat on his porch and was too ill to consult. His wife Mary kindly came to our car with their dog Abby (Abigail Adams) and related they needed to return to Philadelphia soon. The wheelchair access ramp had been added to his grandmother's farmhouse just before they arrived. Now the ramp has been removed this summer.

It is good to remember a neighbor like Richard Beeman and his life's passion about our country's beginnings. He loved Maine and he loved our founding fathers working on the constitution that long, hot summer. He loved his family and I often saw him throwing the stick for Abby. Read one of his history books. I highly recommend Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the Constitution.