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San Francisco

Kermit Roosevelt III: The Nation That Never Was

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Is today’s America really the one the Founding Fathers envisioned? That is the question constitutional scholar Kermit Roosevelt asks, tracing the majority of American political sentiments from the modern day not back as far as the Revolution, but to the Reconstruction era.

Kermit Roosevelt is a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the great-great grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt. He is an expert in constitutional law, national security, conflicts of law and civil liberties. His work has been published in the Virginia Law Review, the Michigan Law Review, and the Columbia Law Review and he is the author of two historical novels examining themes of equality and civil liberty.

In his latest book, The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America’s Story, Roosevelt argues that America in the modern day is not the ideological descendant of the era of the Founding Fathers but that of Reconstruction and Abraham Lincoln. Examining the writings, history and political thought of America’s first century, he explains that many of the country’s core political beliefs, especially equality, originated in the Reconstruction era not as a return to the Founder’s vision but as a rejection of it.

Join us as Roosevelt rethinks how American history is viewed, and how the ideas underpinning the country have shifted in the past two centuries—and along with it, what it means to be American itself.


This is a free-for-members program. Members: Click on the "Buy Tickets" button above to order your tickets, and select the members link on the left side of the page. Your username is the email you used to sign up as a member. You can also request a password reset if needed. Discount will automatically be applied at checkout.

This program has 2 types of tickets available: In-person and online-only. Please pre-register to receive a link to the live-stream event.

Safety Protocols for in-person attendance:

• We follow best practices laid out by the CDC and state and local guidelines.
• We strongly recommend vaccination for guests, staff, and volunteers.
• Masks are strongly encouraged while indoors (if you do not have one and would like one, inquire at our front desk for a complimentary mask).
• We reserve the right to require different rules for specific events as necessary.

Our LEED Gold-certified building is designed to cool with outside air, using digitally controlled moveable windows and large ceiling fans. We are deploying additional HEPA filters inside to scrub the air. This is all in addition to increased cleaning of surfaces throughout the building.

We welcome donations made during registration to support the production of our online programming.

Copies of The Nation That Never Was are available for purchase during registration (U.S. domestic shipping only for online orders).

Photo by Sameer Khan, Fotobuddy Photography.

All ticket sales are final and nonrefundable.

Thu, Sep 8 / 6:30 pm PDT

The Commonwealth Club of California
110 The Embarcadero
Taube Family Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States

Image - Kermit Roosevelt III

Kermit Roosevelt III

David Berger Professor for the Administration of Justice, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School; Author, The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America’s Story

In Conversation with David Spencer

Founder, SenSpa; Member, Commonwealth Club of California Board of Governors


6 p.m. doors open & check-in
6:30–7:30 p.m. program
(all times PDT)


$10 members
$35 members with book
$20 nonmembers
$45 nonmembers with book
$5 members
$25 members with book
$10 nonmembers
$30 nonmembers with book