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Jack Rakove's principal areas of interest include the origins of the American Revolution and Constitution, the political theories and practices of James Madison; and the role of historical knowledge in constitutional litigation. He is the author of four books, including Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution (1996), which won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1997. In this work, Rakove argues that originalism, the practice of interpreting the Constitution by a fixed set of the original framers’ intentions, should not be the only approach to settling today's judicial questions.

He joined the Stanford faculty in 1980. After earning his Ph.D. in 1975 from Harvard University, he taught at Colgate University from 1975 to 1980, and has also been a visiting professor at the NYU School of Law. He is also the author of The Beginnings of National Politics: An Interpretive History of the Continental Congress (1979), James Madison and the Creation of the American Republic (2001), and Declaring Rights: A Brief History with Documents (1997).

Key works

- New York Times Letter to the Editor, March 16, 2006

- article, June 9, 2005

- New York Times article, May 12, 2002

The Unfinished Election of 2000. Ed. Jack Rakove. New York: Basic Books, 2001

Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996

Interpreting the Constitution: The Debate over Original Intent. Ed. Jack Rakove. Northeastern University Press, 1990

Prof. Rakove in the News

July 2, 2014
Jack Rakove, professor of history and of political science, weighs in on a scholar's claim that a...
April 10, 2011
An editorial on Obama's stance on war powers cites Stanford historian Jack Rakove.
January 11, 2011
'The Annotated U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence' edited by Jack Rakove, a Pulitzer...
September 27, 2010
American history professor Jack Rakove is quoted in a comparison of today's Tea Parties and the...
July 15, 2010
New York Times
January 10, 2010
Washington Post
November 15, 2009
Stanford history professor Jack N. Rakove publishes "The Annotated U.S. Constitution and...
November 6, 2008
Early America Review
October 21, 2008
[Quotes blog post by Jack Rakove, professor of history and American studies and professor of...
July 13, 2008
[Quotes Jack Rakove, professor of History and American Studies and professor of Political Science]
September 25, 2001
Uncommon Knowledge (Hoover Institution)
April 4, 2000
Stanford Daily


  • American Politics
  • American Republic
  • Colonial and Revolutionary America
  • Constitutional Ammendments
  • Gun Control
  • James Madison
  • Originalism
  • Political Theory
  • Second Amendment
  • The Declaration of Independence
  • The U.S. Constitution
  • Thomas Jefferson

Contact information


B.A., Haverford College, 1968
Ph.D., Harvard University, 1975