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Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 19, 2010
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--Joseph J. Ellis, author of First Family: Abigail and John Adams
“Pauline Maier has written a magnificent, comprehensive account of the political contests by which the people of America, in James Madison’s words, breathed ‘life and validity’ into the United States Constitution. Her book will stand as the definitive account of the story of the ratification of the Constitution for many decades to come.”
--Richard R. Beeman, professor of history, University of Pennsylvania, and author of Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution
“With the confidence of a master, Pauline Maier has told the story of the ratification of the Constitution in a book that will endure for decades.”
--Joyce Appleby, author of Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans
“[Pauline Maier] brilliantly tracks the fight over the Constitution’s ratification. . . . A scrupulously even-handed presentation based on impressive scholarship.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“The adoption of the Constitution in 1787-1788 was the first great stroke of popular democracy in America, and perhaps its most successful and momentous as well. Yet surprisingly, the full story of ratification has never been told. Now, at long last, Pauline Maier’s sweeping account of ratification brilliantly describes how this great event took place.”
—Jack N. Rakove, author of Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution
“I can’t imagine a better subject for Pauline Maier’s storytelling skills than the statewide debates over whether to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Never before or since has such a broad cross-section of Americans addressed such fundamental issues of government. Maier follows the debate beyond the legislative chambers into the taverns and homes of ordinary Americans as they made their momentous decision.”
—Woody Holton, author of Abigail Adams and Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution
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Top Customer Reviews
Last year, Bruce Chatwick published "Triumvirate" about the efforts by James Madison, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton to coordinate the campaign to pass the Constitution. It is a shorter and more informal account of the same material covered by Pauline Maier in her 600+ page narrative entitled "Ratification." Both books focused upon the perilous passage by the big four states (Virginia, New York, Mass. and Pa.) while downplaying the role of the other nine states. Ms. Maier has a much more detailed account (with much smaller print type) with a larger focus upon the other major players than Chatwick's account. Both books are very readable with "Ratification" written in a more scholarly style. Regardless of which book the reader picks out, the story is compelling and dramatic.
I'll keep this short and simple for now and add an update when I finally finish.
What is so attractive about this book is how it purports to reveal a previously partially told story, one which we think is already complete and resolved, but is in fact still being debated today. Using extensive (all available) original sources, Maier turns her authoritative scholastic skills to perhaps the most important subject in our nation's history - the drafting and ratifying of our Constitution. For too long this has been an issue dominated by the (winning) Federalist protagonists - with scant or dismissive attention given to the (by implication disloyal, antagonist) "Antifederalists" (obviously not the name they chose for themselves), who ironically often took pseudonyms incorporating the name "federal", and were actually more federalist in really caring about a strong federation of states than the self-claimed "Federalists" were. The (centralizing) Federalist were unified mainly in wanting ratification to be a swift all or nothing proposal. The (decentralized) Antifederalist were anything but unified, which is why they lost.Read more ›
Some of these state-by-state histories may be of interest primarily to the dedicated student of the early years of the republic. However, the issues and the "parties" (forerunners of the first political parties) are important to anyone who hopes to understand the Constitution and the thoughts of those who wrote and ratified it as the basis for the US federal government.
The primary issues at the time of the Constitutional Convention included the following:
* Under the Articles of Confederation, the Federal Congress could print paper money (but not coin) and incur debts but had no power of taxation. Not surprisingly, inflation destroyed the value of the currency, and the government was insolvent. Something needed to be done.
* The Constitutional Convention was called by the Continental Congress to propose changes to the Articles of Confederation, not to replace them with a new charter. None-the-less, it the Convention drafted an entirely new Constitution and proposed that it be approved directly by the states, bypassing the Continental Congress.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The core of this book is nearly 500 pages, the unavoidable result of its breadth of coverage and great attention to detail. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Dr. W
Always good to look behind the scenes and go beyond the flat textbook pagesPublished 2 months ago by David E Green
I have taught Civics and History for over 30 years and I have found it difficult to find books that detail the struggle to get the Constitution ratified. Read morePublished 3 months ago by michael flanary
I don't even know where to start. A captivating state-by-state, step-by-step narrative of the path to our Constitution and then the Bill of Rights, far from a sure thing at many... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Every thing you wanted to know about how the Constituition was ratified . Not as easy as most believePublished 5 months ago by Nicholas L. Faller
An excellent read for amateur and professional historians looking to expand their knowledge on the ratification of the Constitution.Published 5 months ago by Lindsey C. Schmidt
This book met my expectations and then some. It allowed me to put in perspective the historical attributes and time lines of the many books of the Revolutionary Period in our... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Brian J Mazza