About Tublius™ & The Constitution Song
The Constitution Song is the first project for Tublius™, an initiative by Peter Shane to popularize the history and interpretation of the U.S. Constitution through online photographic, video, musical and prose presentations.
Inspiration for The Constitution Song came initially from Charles Gibson, Peter’s physical trainer and friend, who challenged him in 2016—in the spirit of Hamilton—to create a rap about constitutional history that would inspire more young people especially to get out and vote. Although Peter had taught constitutional law since 1981, it took him over a year to meet that challenge and then to begin his pursuit of a musical collaborator. A friend and colleague at the American Constitution Society introduced Peter to Ryan Snow, a young lawyer with the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Ryan had worked for a decade as a professional trombonist, improviser, composer, and teacher before going to law school. He told Peter that Johnny Butler, a Brooklyn-based saxophonist, composer, producer, and teacher, who was a fellow Oberlin grad, would be perfect for the project. He was right. Once Johnny came on board and discussed the song with Peter, he decided to build the song on the famous “Funky Drummer” beat invented by Clyde Ferguson. Johnny recruited vocalists and musicians to complete the jazzy soundtrack. And amid the COVID-19 shelter-at-home protocols, Peter came up with the idea of using a diverse group of dancers and dance styles to convey the song’s message—that the story of the Constitution is a story about trying to make our government always more just and more inclusive—a story every American is entitled to be part of. One imperative way for all Americans to connect to that story is by voting. With Peter’s enthusiastic approval, Johnny recruited AnA Collaborations and Arielle Apfel to complete the creative team. And that’s how the video came to be.
Exploring the History of the U.S. Constitution
If you are looking for a great place to start exploring the history of the U.S. Constitution, The National Constitution Center offers a host of remote learning resources, as well as videos, podcasts, and constitutional conversations. You can even get a free “Interactive Constitution” app, which provides the Constitution’s text as well as brief essays by leading scholars on areas of agreement and disagreement about interpreting the Constitution today. The National Archives and Records Administration, which holds the original document, also offers fascinating background information about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History offers a digital collection of tens of thousands of artifacts relating to all of American history, including books, pamphlets, posters, art work, letters, newspapers, and photographs. Part of its collection is devoted to the immediate post-revolutionary and early national period.
For Further Reading
“As lyricist for The Constitution Song, I implore all listeners eligible to vote to make sure they do both register and vote. I am also hoping the song will inspire many to dig more deeply into the history of the U.S. Constitution. You could spend a lifetime reading about the Constitution, so I asked a group of legal historian friends if they would help me compile a short list of titles that general readers can start with. The authors listed below do not all agree with each other’s interpretations, and my fellow recommenders and I do not necessarily agree with all the authors. But these are really good books. They may help you start on your journey.” – Peter Shane