Byrd's 'The Senate: Great Forum of Constitutional Liberty'

About the Book

The Senate book cover

Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) was an American senator who both made and taught history. He spent more than half a century in the Upper Chamber, serving over the years as minority leader, majority leader, president pro tem, and, perhaps most memorably for West Virginians, as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He also left behind magisterial histories: one is a multi-volume history of the U.S. Senate, and the other is an account of the role of the Senate in the political life of ancient Rome. In the end, Sen. Byrd could say he had held more leadership positions, had been elected to more terms (nine), and had cast more votes than anyone else in United States history. He served alongside 12 presidents and, in a case study in time management, even earned a law degree while serving in the Senate.

Sen. Byrd spoke at the McConnell Center on April 17, 2000. After his passing in 2010, the McConnell Center published his speech from that day as a book with a preface by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and an introduction by McConnell Center Director Dr. Gary L. Gregg. In his essay, Sen. Byrd takes up three primary topics: the origins and idea of the Senate; how it has developed and changed over time; and what the founding fathers might think of the institution we know today in Washington. To each question he brings a scholarly eye and the understanding of a man who actually lived the history of which he writes. Download a copy of the book here. 

U.S. Senators at the McConnell Center: 

To date, 21 U.S. Senators have visited the McConnell Center. Here is the current list (with more being added every year!) arranged alphabetically by last name. Links to each speaker's McConnell Center lecture during their visit can be found here

  • Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)
  • Sen. William Bradley (D-NJ)
  • Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA)
  • Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-WV)
  • Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT)
  • Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC)
  • Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA)
  • Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX)
  • Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
  • Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)
  • Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA)
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT)
  • Sen. Richard Lugar (D-MA)
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
  • Sen. Barbara Milkulski (D-MD)
  • Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Majority Leader
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
  • Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
  • Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Democratic Leader 

Learn more about Sen. McConnell and his experience in the Senate at the McConnell Chao Archives

Interested in learning or teaching more about the Senate? Check out the online resources at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate.