Mayflower: 400th Anniversary Constitution Week Conference



Speakers will take questions from viewers' at the end of each session. Viewers can submit questions throughout the session in the comments section for the YouTube feed or via email at [email protected].


The Center for Constitutional Studies continues to mourn the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Dr. Rodney Smith. We honor him and his legacy with the conference.


September 16, 2020

9:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. | Panel 1 - Pilgrims: Faith and Family

10:15 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. | Break

11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. | Featured Speaker Nathaniel Philbrick

12:15 p.m. - 12:30 p.m. | Break

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. | Afternoon Featured Speaker with Nick Bunker

1:45 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. | Break

2:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. | Panel 2 - The Mayflower and its Descendants Today

September 17, 2020

9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. | Panel 1- Conflict and Cooperation

10:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. | Break

11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. | Panel 2 - Covenants, Compact, and the Constitution

Speaker biographies

Polly Ha

Dr. Polly Ha is a Korean American British historian, a prize-winning academic and author. Her work examines the long term effects of religious hostility, political instability, and conspiracy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. She is currently working on the ethics of innovation and broader psychology of change in the early modern period. This includes a forthcoming critical edition of manuscripts that sheds new light on permissible change in antiquity and late Elizabethan society. She recently identified and explored a new archive of manuscripts including the earliest debates over independence in the English-speaking world. Her next book builds on this to explain how freedom as independence universalized classical notions of liberty across the social and gender hierarchies in the English Revolution.Whilst specializing in Tudor, Stuart, and Revolutionary Britain, she has also written and taught on colonial America and Europe.

Rebecca Fraser

A professional writer, journalist and broadcaster, a former President of the Bronte Society, my first book was a biography of Charlotte Bronte. In 2005, WW Norton published The Story of Britain, a popular history of the UK. The Mayflower, the Families, the Voyage and the Founding of America is a portrait of two generations of a European family in Plymouth Colony. Edward Winslow was responsible for much of the record of the early days. He stands out for his friendship with the Wampanoag chief, now known as Ousamequin. However, his son Josiah presided over the major conflict known as King Philip’s War. A slew of lawsuits at the National Archives unseen for three hundred years shed new light on the Winslows’ lives, as did documents at the Massachusetts Historical Society. In a surprising narrative arc which emphasises the protean and transatlantic nature of 17th century colonial life, Edward Winslow rose to high office under Cromwell. I am a member of the Society of Authors, and BIO, the International Biographers Association.

Nathaniel Philbrick

Nathaniel Philbrick grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he attended Linden Elementary School and Taylor Allderdice High School. He earned a BA in English from Brown University and an MA in America Literature from Duke University, where he was a James B. Duke Fellow. He was Brown University’s first Intercollegiate All-American sailor in 1978, the same year he won the Sunfish North Americans in Barrington, RI. After working as an editor at Sailing World magazine, he wrote and edited several books about sailing, including The Passionate Sailor, Second Wind, and Yaahting, A Parody. In 1986, Philbrick moved to Nantucket with his wife Melissa and their two children. In 1994, he published his first book about the island’s history, Away Off Shore, followed by a study of the Nantucket’s native legacy titled Abram’s Eyes. He is the founding director of the Egan Maritime Institute and a research fellow at the Nantucket Historical Association. In 2000, he published the New York Times bestseller, In the Heart of the Sea, winner of the National Book Award for nonfiction, followed by Sea of Glory, winner of the Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Naval History Prize and the Albion-Monroe Award from the National Maritime Historical Society, and Mayflower, finalist for both the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in History and the Los Angeles Times Book Award and winner of the Massachusetts Book Award for nonfiction. His writing has also appeared in Vanity Fair, the New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe. He has appeared on the Today Show, the Morning Show, Dateline, PBS’s American Experience, CSPAN, and NPR.

Nick Bunker

Nick Bunker is the author of Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World and An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America, the latter of which won the 2015 George Washington Prize. In the same year, An Empire on the Edge was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. Educated at King’s College, Cambridge, and Columbia University, he worked as a reporter for the Liverpool Echo and the Financial Times, where he was one of the writers of the Lex Column. After leaving journalism, he was a stockbroker and investment banker, principally for the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. For many years he served on the board of the Freud Museum, based in the house in Hampstead, London, where Sigmund Freud died in 1939. Nick Bunker now lives with his wife Susan and their otterhound, Champion Teckelgarth Mercury, in Lincolnshire, England.

Caleb Johnson

Caleb Johnson, the author and historian behind, graduated from Texas Tech University with two majors (history and English) and two minors (computer science and archaeology). He subsequently earned an MBA with an emphasis in IT Management. He has been researching and studying the Mayflower passengers for twenty-six years, and has authored and edited a number of books including the 1173-page reference tome, The Complete Works of the Mayflower Pilgrims (Vancouver, 2003); The Mayflower and Her Passengers (Xlibris, 2005); William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation (Xlibris, 2006), and his best-selling work — a biography of Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins entitled Here Shall I Die Ashore (now also available in audiobook form). Caleb has been interviewed and quoted by numerous publications, usually for Thanksgiving-related pieces, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and National Public Radio. His research has been used and cited by New York Times best-selling authors including Nathaniel Philbrick (Mayflower) and Nick Bunker (Making Haste from Babylon), and he assisted with the Sally Fields episode of PBS's "Finding Your Roots," and participated in the PBS show “Hit and Run History: Stephano—The True Story of Shakespeare’s Shipwreck” (premieres May 2020). Caleb edited the scholarly historical and genealogical journal, the Mayflower Descendant (first edited by George Ernest Bowman in 1899) from 2011-2014. Caleb has been on the forefront of genealogical research as it pertains to the English origins of the Mayflower passengers, discovering the English origins of Stephen Hopkins at Hursley, Hampshire (1998) and Peter Browne at Dorking, Surrey, England (2004). In 2017-2019, he collaborated with Sue Allan and Simon Neal to piece together the English origins of William and Susanna (Jackson) White, Dorothy May, Isaac Allerton, and John Carver.

Kevan Barton

After graduating in 1981 from the University of Utah with two degrees, Middle Eastern Studies and Political Science, Mr. Barton was hired as an intelligence analyst by a government agency. The degrees were adjunct, however, to the job he was hired for: communications analysis. Preemployment testing had revealed a high cognitive ability for pattern recognition and three-dimensional thinking. Mr. Barton chalks his employment up to stamp collecting and origami! Interestingly, the skills used to reverse engineer communications networks is the same set of skills that genealogists use—it’s just a matter of different data sets and points. And the outputs all look like convoluted pedigree charts. After decades of digging into genealogy and family history, and later working his way through Lean-six sigma and Service Manager 7 as a systems engineer, he retired and found himself being asked to take on the volunteer mantle of Historian for the Utah Society of Mayflower Descendants. This just means that he’s the first gate keeper for Utah folks and expats wanting to join Plymouth’s General Society of Mayflower Descendants. Historical documents and proposed lineages are now the data sets and points, and, thankfully, pedigree charts are a bit more orderly than communications blueprints.

Katherine Grandjean

Historian of early American and Native American history, English colonialism and cultural encounters, environmental history, and violence in American history. Katherine Grandjean holds a B.A. in History from Yale University and a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University. Her research explores early English colonization and the encounter with Native peoples, as well as the origins of American violence. Her work has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the American Historical Association, and the Charles Warren Center for American History, and has appeared in such journals as the William and Mary Quarterly, American Quarterly, and Early American Studies. A recent essay, “New World Tempests: Environment, Scarcity, and the Coming of the Pequot War,” won the American Society for Environmental History's 2012 Alice Hamilton Prize for Best Article and the William and Mary Quarterly’s 2014 Douglass Adair Memorial Award.She recently published her first book, American Passage: The Communications Frontier in Early New England. The book retells the story of early New England's settling, through the dark, confused world of communication. Who could travel where, who controlled the routes winding through the woods, who dictated what news might be sent—These questions, in American Passage, reveal a new dimension of contest and conquest in early America. Upcoming articles will explore Native resistance to European colonization, as well as the folklore and artifacts surrounding American memory of the colonial period. She is also at work on a new book on violence and murder in eighteenth-century North America. At Wellesley, Professor Grandjean teaches courses on colonial American history, Native American history, the history of American food, and the history of violence and terror in early America.

Dustin Jansen

Dustin Jansen is an Assistant Professor teaching American Indian Studies. He also currently serves as Director for the Division of Indian Affairs for the State of Utah. Dustin is originally from Coyote Canyon, New Mexico, located on the Navajo reservation. Dustin has been married for almost 20 years to his wife. He is the proud father of two-girls and two-boys.

Jenny Pulsipher

Jenny Hale Pulsipher is a professor of history at Brigham Young University, specializing in early American and American Indian history. She received her PhD in American History from Brandeis University in 1999 and began teaching at BYU in the fall of 1998. Her first book, “Subjects unto the Same King”: Indians, English, and the Contest for Authority in Colonial New England, was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2005 and was selected as a Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title in 2006. Her second book, Swindler Sachem: The American Indian who Sold His Birthright, Dropped Out of Harvard, and Conned the King of England (Yale University Press, 2018), received the 2019 Norris and Carole Hundley award for the best book on any historical subject from the American Historical Association-Pacific Coast Branch. Her next book project, Shadow Sacagawea: A Family History of Race and Religion in the American West, will examine the life experiences of her fourth-great grandmother, Sally Exervier Ward, a Shoshone Indian woman who married first a French-Canadian and then an American fur trader, bore four mixed-race children, and was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, thus beginning a family history in which Anglo-European, Native, and LDS cultures, with their respective approaches to race and religion, combined, clashed, and shaped the choices and identities of her descendants. Dr. Pulsipher has also published articles in the William and Mary Quarterly, Early American Literature, The New England Quarterly, and The Massachusetts Historical Review.

Troy Smith

Dr. Smith's primary fields of interest are federal systems of government, complexity and public policy, and American government. He is a fellow at the Center for the Study of Federalism, and editor of the online encyclopedia Federalism in America: An Encyclopedia. Dr. Smith first became interested in federalism when his east coast graduate friends argued for reintroducing wolvesin the Rocky Mountains but opposed their reintroduction in the Adirondacks. His interest spiked when, as an intern with the U.S. Senate, he watched quarrels between his senators and the governor. Channeling his insights, he wrote a paper on how members of Congress responded to lobbying by state officials that won the “Best Paper in Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations” at the 1998 A.P.S.A. Annual Meeting. Since then his academic work has appeared in Publius: The Journal of Federalism; The Review of Politics; Congress & the Presidency; Thinking Skills & Creativity; andothers. Dr. Smith loves learning and tackling challenges whether that be teaching students about federalism, writing, and reasoning, climbing cliff faces, playing classical guitar, or coaxing Hawai'i's fish to his spear.

Julia Ernst

Julia Ernst joined the University of North Dakota School of Law in 2011 and now serves as Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs and Associate Professor teaching Constitutional Law, Legislation, International Human Rights Advocacy, Gender and the Law, and Professional Foundations. Her research explores constitutional law, democracy, equality, and human rights. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the Women Lawyers Section of the State Bar Association of North Dakota. Previously Professor Ernst taught at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC, and was the Executive Director of the Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program and the Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa Fellowship Program. Before Georgetown, Professor Ernst served as Legislative Counsel for a member of Congress and co-directed the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues. She has also worked with the Washington, DC office of a public interest legal organization and practiced environmental law with a law firm in Detroit, Michigan. In 1995, she attended the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. Professor Ernst earned her Master of Laws and Certificate in International Human Rights Law from Georgetown in 2010, her Juris Doctorate (cum laude) and Master of Arts in world politics from the University of Michigan in 1994, and her Bachelor of Arts (magna cum laude) in political science from Yale University in 1991. She is a Girl Scout volunteer and a member of Sharon Lutheran Church in Grand Forks, ND, where she resides with her family.