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Taming the People? How to Remain Free in a Representative Democracy


panel discussion on Taming the People? How to Remain Free in a Representative Democracy

University of Chicago
Social Sciences Building - Lecture Hall (First floor)
1126 E. 59th Street , Room 112
Chicago, US 60637

October 26 | 6:00 pm


Please join us for a discussion followed by a Q&A on the legitimacy of representative democracy which has perhaps never been questioned in the United States and in the European Union as much as it is today—a problem embodied by the January 6th attack on the Capitol and the rise of populist parties in all Europe.

This attack on our constitutional democracies should not be analyzed as a random eruption of political violence but rather as a symptom of a deep and longstanding political malaise. To understand this problem, we must consider its roots: the years between the American Revolution and the ratification of the American Constitution. During this decade, the debate centered on how to secure a regime in which the people could be free and the State administration effective. The Founding Fathers invented political representation as this compromise between freedom and efficacy, and the first modern representative democracy was born. To grasp why it is failing today, we must examine this period.


Hugo Toudic is a Ph.D. student at Sorbonne-University and Chicago University-CNRS. He is a specialist of the influence of Montesquieu’s political philosophy on the ideas of the Founding Fathers. His field of study includes Political and Moral Philosophy, History of the Early American Republic, Constitutional Law. He is the co-chair of the AMERICA 2026 USA Bureau, a Euro-American research consortium aiming to bring together different perspectives on the American Revolution in order to better assess its lasting impacts in the world we live in.

Jack Bevacqua is a Ph.D. student in constitutional studies and political theory and a University Presidential Fellow at the University of Notre Dame. His research interests include early modern political thought, ancient political thought, American political thought, religion and politics, and the history of political thought.

This event is part of ‘Freedoms,’ an event series organized by Chicago members of European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) in fall 2022 that examines how conceptions of freedom have been shaped by each country’s unique history.

In partnership with

France Chicago Center

The France Chicago Center (FCC) is a University of Chicago-based interdisciplinary organization with a two-fold mission of: (1) facilitating, promoting, and fostering stronger ties between University of Chicago students and researchers and their colleagues in France, and (2) increasing awareness within the University of Chicago community of French culture, art, and thought. To this end, FCC sponsors a range of programs including conferences, workshops, public lectures, visiting professors, fellowships, travel grants & fellowships, exchange programs and various cultural, scientific, and outreach activities.

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