Book Reviews -- the Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution: Ratification of the Constitution by the States: Virginia (Volume 10, Part 3) Edited by John P. Kaminski, Gaspare J. Saladino et Al

By Mason, Thomas A. | The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, January 1994 | Go to article overview

Book Reviews -- the Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution: Ratification of the Constitution by the States: Virginia (Volume 10, Part 3) Edited by John P. Kaminski, Gaspare J. Saladino et Al


Mason, Thomas A., The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography


The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Volume 10: Ratification of the Constitution by the States: Virginia, Part 3. Edited by JOHN P. KAMINSKI, GASPARE J. SALADINO, RICHARD LEFFLER, CHARLES H. SCHOENLEBER, MARYBETH CARLSON, CHARLES D. HAGERMANN, and MARGARET C. LEEDS. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1993. xxix, 736 pp. $50.00.

The State's determined Resolution

Was to discuss the Constitution

For this the Members come together

Meltine with Zeal and sultry weather

THUS began a poem entitled "Extempore at the Convention in Virginia" (pp. 1628-29), which Gouverneur Morris jotted on the back of a dinner invitation from John Marshall. Morris, the New York federalist statesman, was visiting Richmond during the convention that met to ratify the federal Constitution in June 1788. Morris's "Extempore" is one of more than two hundred documents relating to Virginia's ratification contest that await the reader of the third and final part of the Virginia volume of The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Organized in 1951 and moved to the University of Wisconsin in 1970, the ratification project has produced ten volumes since 1976, with approximately seven volumes yet to appear in the series.

This part includes the final two-thirds of the convention's debates as well as commentary, including letters (some of them excerpted) and newspaper articles. The edition brings together the texts of crucial documents from numerous American and European libraries and archives. Source notes provide the provenance of the letters, and an editorial note in the second part discusses the documentation of the convention's debates. When a letter has been excerpted, the editors cite a published version where the reader can find the full text. Some of the letters are available in other modern editions, but only in the Documentary History can a reader gain a full understanding of the relationship between all the participants. Transcription of documents is mostly literal. Useful maps appear on the end-papers, an excellent cumulative index at the end of this part makes the contents of the documents in the three Virginia parts easily accessible, and a microfiche supplement contains transcripts of "repetitious or peripheral but still valuable" documents and a few photographic facsimiles of "significant manuscripts" (p. …

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