Jeffrey Rosen Historian, Legal Commentator, CEO of the National Constitution Center

About the Author

Jeffrey Rosen is the President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, where he hosts We the People, a weekly podcast of constitutional debate. He is a professor of law at George Washington University Law School, a contributing editor at The Atlantic and a contributing writer at The New Yorker. The Chicago Tribune named him one of the 10 best magazine journalists in America and the Los Angeles Times called him “the nation’s most widely read and influential legal commentator.”

His latest book, The Pursuit of Happiness: How Classical Writers on Virtue Inspired the Lives of the Founders and Defined America, is a fascinating examination of what “the pursuit of happiness” meant to our nation’s Founders and how that famous phrase defined their lives and became the foundation of our democracy. Rosen is the author of seven previous books, including the New York Times bestseller Conversations with RBG: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Law, and biographies of Louis Brandeis and William Howard Taft.

In his speeches, Rosen articulates the importance and impact of the Constitution, the core principles of American history, and constitutional issues in the news. He has lectured frequently at the Aspen Ideas Festival, and is a frequent speaker at universities and colleges, to corporate audiences, and more.

Rosen is a graduate of Harvard College; Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar; and Yale Law School. His essays and commentaries have appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, on National Public Radio, in The New Republic, and The New Yorker. He currently lives in the Philadelphia/Washington DC area with his wife.

Suggested Topics

  • The Pursuit of Happiness: How Classical Writers on Virtue Inspired the Lives of the Founders and Defined America
  • The Supreme Court
  • The Constitution
  • Current Events
  • American History

Raves and Reviews

With insight and wit, legal scholar Rosen shows how classical philosophy inspired the Founders. . . . Rosen’s noteworthy book offers a better understanding of philosophy and American history.”
– Booklist

[A] fast-paced romp through early American political thought. . . . An entertaining window on the American founders’ reading lives.”
– Publishers Weekly

A study of the Founding Fathers’ search for self-mastery. . . . In their distinguishing between being good from feeling good, the founders, Rosen hopes, may inspire readers to redefine the meaning of a good life. A thoughtful rendering of America’s history.”
– Kirkus Reviews

Jeffrey Rosen found a ‘gap’ in his education, such as we all have. In filling it he has written a masterpiece of intellectual history about the Founders, renewing, we can hope, our reading of them and what they read. Here is the enriching story of how ‘pursuit of happiness’ never meant pleasure or success, but the self-governing quest, always unachieved, of virtue. This brilliant work is very new about very old ideas that refresh the spirit.”
– David W. Blight, Yale University, author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

To understand who we are, we must begin at the beginning—which is precisely what Jeffrey Rosen does in this remarkable and timely book. By exploring how the American Founders viewed virtue and the fabled (and often misunderstood) ‘pursuit of happiness,’ Rosen offers us a much-needed reminder of the centrality of civic and personal virtue.”
– Jon Meacham, author of And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle

Using the classical virtues prescribed by Benjamin Franklin as a way of organizing his book, Jeffrey Rosen has put together a remarkable collection of fresh and insightful essays on the Founders. Indeed, his book may be the best and most readable introduction to the ideas of the Founders that we have.”
– Gordon Wood, author of Power and Liberty: Constitutionalism in the American Revolution

A delightful, insightful reminder of a truth obvious to the Founders but forgotten by subsequent generations of Americans: that personal happiness and the health of the republic depend on virtue, which in turn requires regular cultivation. Read this timely book for your own benefit and the good of us all.”
– H.W. Brands, author of Founding Partisans: Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson, Adams and the Brawling Birth of American Politics

Jeffrey Rosen’s immensely readable and thoughtful book on America’s founders makes a strong case that a life invested in understanding the past may in fact be a happier one. There are lessons here for preserving our democracy today.”
– Ken Burns, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker of The American Revolution

The Founders had no internet to educate them, but they did have advice books, contemporary and ancient. Jeffrey Rosen guides us through them to see what the Founders meant by happiness, and how they hoped to secure it. And, he suggests, we could do the same today.”
– Richard Brookhiser, author of Give Me Liberty: A History of America’s Exceptional Idea

In the Media


Books by Jeffrey Rosen

Pursuit of Happiness

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