The Federal Convention and the Formation of the Union of the American States

The Federal Convention and the Formation of the Union of the American States

The Federal Convention and the Formation of the Union of the American States

The Federal Convention and the Formation of the Union of the American States

Excerpt

My primary purpose in these pages is to illustrate the role of the Federal Convention in the formation of the American Constitution. Central to this endeavor are Madison's Notes of Debate, by far the most valuable single account of the complicated and lengthy 1787 meeting. My aim here is to make available the heart of this bulky eyewitness record, allowing it to relate the general principles which concerned delegates and to tell as much as it can of the complete story of shaping the Constitution. To Madison's description of Convention proceedings I have added various materials designed to facilitate understanding of the work of the Framers.

In addition, I have put the entire Philadelphia deliberations into a broader perspective. In my introductory remarks and through representative documents I relate the Federal Convention to constitutional development and the formation of the union in America during the Revolutionary era, especially from the Stamp Act Congress in 1765 through ratification of the Constitution and adoption of the first ten amendments in 1791. And in my opening comments I discuss the effect of the growth of constitutionalism in the Western world and in the American colonies before 1763 on the deliberations in Philadelphia.

With my task fulfilled I am particularly pleased to thank those who had a hand in bringing it to completion. Professor Thomas C. Mendenhall of Yale University was decisive in getting the project under way, for it was he who, at precisely the right moment, urged me to go through with it. And having reserved for myself any defects the work may possess, I gratefully acknowledge that whatever virtue it does have is largely owing to Professor Charles W. Hendel of Yale University and Mr. Oskar Piest, Editor of The Liberal Arts Press. My introduction benefited from Professor Hendel's reading of it, and I found . . .

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