Constitutional Journal: A Correspondent's Report from the Convention of 1787

Constitutional Journal: A Correspondent's Report from the Convention of 1787

Constitutional Journal: A Correspondent's Report from the Convention of 1787

Constitutional Journal: A Correspondent's Report from the Convention of 1787

Synopsis

You are there, in 1787, at America's constitutional convention, with an "inside story" that reads like a modern-day confidential account of the secret proceedings in Philadelphia. Veteran print and broadcast reporter St. Jojn reports each day's proceedings, flavoring his dispatches with quotes drawn from the correspondence and notes of the delegates. He captures the frustration, conflict, hope and despair of America's Founders during the long, sweltering summer session as the political future of the United States hangs in the balance. Appearing daily in major newspapers and broadcast around the world during the bicentenntial summer of 1987 by the United States Information Agency, is a popular narrative history ideal for students and general readers of American history.

Excerpt

The Bicentennial of the Constitution has stimulated an outpouring of popular writing and serious scholarship on the Constitution and how it came to be. Mr. St. John's account, both serious and popular, was first published in the Christian Science Monitor as a series of columns from May to September 1987. His Constitutional Journal reveals the magnitude of the task the 55 delegates to Philadelphia undertook, as well as the uncertainty of its outcome.

We know, of course, that the meetings of the delegates were closed, "secret" meetings which, among things, made it easier for members who had taken a position one day to change it later without embarrassment. So firm was this rule of secrecy that in one of his few statements as Chairman, George Washington severely scolded some unknown delegate who had carelessly left some of his notes on the debates--later found on the floor by the clean-up crew.

St. John's device of simulated "daily reports" enables the reader to share in the tension of the occasion. It also allows us to behold the transformation of the sessions from a meeting authorized "for the sole and express purpose" of revising the Articles of Confederation to a Constitutional Convention that became a great milestone in world political history. These 55 men sat down together and devised--constituted--a new government unlike any in all human history. They did not invent all the ideas but drew on the great thinkers of Greece, Rome, France, England and Scotland.

Mr. St. John frankly concedes that no one except the delegates was allowed in the meetings, but takes the reader . . .

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