When the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia adjourned late in the summer of 1787, the delegates returned to their states to report on the new Constitution, which had to be ratified by specially elected conventions in at least nine states. Pauline Maier recounts the dramatic events of the ensuing debate in homes, taverns, and convention halls, drawing generously on the speeches and letters of founding fathers, both familiar and forgotten, on all sides.
This is the first narrative history in decades of the ratification debate, with all its significance, and it draws on new scholarship about the ratification process. In Maier's skillful hands, this fascinating yet often overlooked episode in the nation's history comes to life as never before.
©2010 Pauline Maier (P)2010 Tantor
"Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists, animate the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one state convention’s verdict affected another’s. Displaying the grudging grassroots blessing the Constitution originally received, Maier eruditely yet accessibly revives a neglected but critical passage in American history." (Booklist)
This is a very good book, covering a topic that is not easy to cover. Almost any book that mentions these debates will devote no more than a few pages to them, even though the ratification was one of the most important events in American history. This book isn't just worth it because of how informative and well written it is, but also because of the importance of the topic itself.
I did not know much about the state ratification process, and so it was interesting to learn how detailed the debates were (including, for example, the appropriate limits of diversity jurisdiction). The fights generally centered on a strong central government versus state variation and local control, pretty much what is going on today. The book was a bit too long but otherwise quite good.
I am a retired high school computer teacher. After years of tech reading, I have given up reading for listening while I woodworking.
The logical history based on diaries, newspapers, and meeting minutes. This is a fantastic view of life in 18th century. It is a must read for constitutional history buffs.
The role of early conventions on the outcome of later conventions isn't often emphasized in most history classes. In a way, very little has changed in politics.
Each state has it's own chapter in the order the state conventions met to ratify so that the impact of one ratification convention on the next one is clear. It's also really apparent how close-run a thing ratification was, contrary to what is sometimes the modern opinion that this was a done-deal from the beginning. What I think I found most interesting were the arguments made about protecting liberty. The debate during this period often claimed that it would be the states that would protect citizens from violations of liberty by the national government. Today, it seems more like this is reversed, that it's the federal government protecting the citizens from violations of liberty by the states.
This book would be recommended for those with a great curiosity into the circumstances behind the otherwise largely untold history of the ratification of Constitution. Other less motivated casual listeners might not have their attention held by this lengthy book. Highly recommended if you are interested in this topic.
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