It figures that local patriot Kauffman is skeptical about the Constitution, which, after all, subjected the states to a huge, remote setup in New York City, then Philadelphia, then the fever swamps of the Potomac. Luther Martin (1748–1826), a Maryland delegate to the convention that drafted the Constitution, vigorously opposed its centralizing tendencies in a two-day argument against it. When he saw his was a losing battle, like other delegates since contradictorily called Antifederalist (they were for the strong state and limited central governments of true federalism), he went home to fight ratification. He was scathingly counterattacked, though primarily for his well-known bibulousness, and gave back (mostly) better than he got, by Kauffman’s lights. After the Constitution prevailed, he settled down to strictly construct it. Maryland’s longest-serving attorney general, Martin also successfully defended Supreme Court justice Samuel Chase and former vice president Aaron Burr in the two highest-profile political trials in early U.S. history. Kauffman, the liveliest conservative wit of our time, tells Martin’s story with great relish and principled rue for federalism lost. --Ray Olson
About the Author
Bill Kauffman is the author of seven previous books, among them Ain’t My America; Look Homeward, America (ISI Books), which the American Library Association named one of the best books of 2006; and Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette, which won the 2003 national Sense of Place Award from Writers & Books. Kauffman writes for the Wall Street Journal, the American Conservative, and Orion, among other publications. He lives in his native Genesee County, New York, with his wife and daughter.