Preserving "A Fair Chance For a Free People" - Karl E. Mundt

Alexander Hamilton Bicentennial Convention - 1957

[NOTE: 'The Alexander Hamilton Bicentennial Convention - 1957" web pages were created in 2002 by Dr. Carl Adler and were on his web site before being moved to the Karl E. Mundt Archives web site. All references to "I" refer to Dr. Adler.]

 In 1957, in honor of the Alexander Hamilton Bicentennial, a convention of high school juniors and seniors, each representing one of the 50 states* and five territories, was held in Washington DC and Philadelphia PA. The diagram is a sketch made by one of the participants of how we were seated in Independence Hall. Bicentennial ConventionHere is a list of Alexander Hamilton Bicentennial Scholars and what we now know about the delegate from that state or territory. Of the 55 delegates I have contacted 33 and believe five more to be deceased. Any information on the missing 17 should be sent to the Karl E Mundt Archives.
*At the time there were 48 states. Alaska would become a state in 1958 and Hawaii in 1959.

Of the 38 delegates that have been located only one is clearly involved in politics. A total of eleven are attorneys and seven are college professors. Two of these latter six are history professors.

Time Line
-Carl Adler, delegate from WV

Sunday, June 16 5:00 PM
We attended a reception at the National Press Club followed by a diner where we were welcomed by the Chairman of the Alexander Hamilton Bicentennial Commission Senator Karl Mundt from South Dakota.

Monday, June 17
We visited the Hamilton display at the Treasury Department and were presented to the US Senate which was in session at the time. Following that we each met Vice President Nixon on the steps of the Capitol. I recall Nixon asking about our (WV) Governor, Cecil Underwood, at that time the youngest governor in the history of the state. Elected again in 1996 , Underwood became the oldest governor in the history of the state.

That afternoon we were taken to the White House were we met with President Eisenhower. After introductions we were moved to the Rose Garden where we had our picture taken with the President. Subsequently the picture ran in Life magazine. I no longer have the picture.

Later that day we were taken to Philadelphia.

Tuesday, June 18
On this day we were broken into five committees of eleven delegates each. Each committee was charged with a particular section of the Constitution. The committees were to report back starting Wednesday morning and ending Friday morning. I am not sure but I think that I was on the committee dealing with Executive Powers and that committee was charged with reporting any action on Wednesday evening.

Wednesday, June 19
Besides hearing from and debating upon the various committee reports there were other activities. On Wednesday afternoon we were "subjected to" a rigorous written exam dealing with Alexander Hamilton and the Constitution. This test along with our performance in the convention was used to select 13 recipients of a $2000 Fellowship awarded in addition to the $1000 scholarship we all received.

The fellowship winners were:

  • Craig Bamberger - Alabama
  • Gordon Chester - Idaho
  • James Copeland - Michigan
  • Carlisle Dick - Arizona
  • Harlan Hahn - Iowa
  • John Kirby - District of Columbia
  • Dan McCall - California
  • Michael Marenchic - New Jersey
  • Karen Ordahl - Missouri
  • Shannon Ratliff - Texas
  • Allen Rule - Ohio
  • Sammuel Stegman - Indiana
  • Hastings Wyman - South Carolina

Friday, June 21
Friday afternoon was devoted to ceremonial affairs. Among other activities we created the Alexander Hamilton Scholars as a permanent society with the delegate from Michigan as president.

On Friday evening there was a banquet at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel bringing to an end the business part of the convention. The end of the banquet was marked by an express messenger with many boxes of orchids, corsages, boutonnieres and leis flown in that day from Hawaii, a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Richard Mitsunaga, the parents of the delegate from Hawaii.

The only action actually taken by the student convention was the repeal of the 22nd amendment, that limited the president to two terms. I am not sure that I supported this at the time, but I certainly would not support it now and can't help but wonder how the other delegates feel about it now.

Saturday, June 22
As a last activity and prior to departing for home the delegates were given a tour of Mount Vernon. I can not say much about this since for some reason I did not go.


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