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David Brearley and the Making of the United States Constitution Hardcover – June 1, 2005
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Donald Scarinci has elevated Allentown's local hero of the American Revolution from undeserved obscurity. -- John Fabiano, President - Allentown-Upper Freehold Historical Society
Scarinci's book fills a void in Constitutional history. -- John B. Wefing, J.D., LL.M - Professor of Law, Seton Hall University
This is an interesting and important book. -- Mark E. Lender, Ph.D. - Professor of History, Kean University
From the Inside Flap
David Brearleys brilliance at the Constitutional Convention has been obscured by William Patersons greater skill as an orator and by the understandable tendency of many Constitutional scholars to view the Convention through the eyes of James Madison. Madison was a co-author and champion of the "Virginia Plan" that was on the fast track to adoption before Brearley, Paterson, and the "New Jersey Plan" got in the way.
The battle between the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan is usually viewed through the prism of the large-state/small-state rivalry that ultimately produced a U.S. Senate in which each state has equal representation. But there was an underlying struggle as well over governmental power.
Like the Articles of the Confederation and various state constitutions, the Virginia Plan accorded primacy in every area to the legislative branch. The New Jersey delegation had a different vision. Made up of a Supreme Court chief justice, a former state attorney general, and a governor who had chafed under a New Jersey Constitution that made them subservient to the Legislature, the New Jerseyans fought to strengthen the independence of both the executive and judicial branches.
The New Jerseyans and their allies lost virtually every early vote. But by late August, when Brearley was chosen to chair the crucial Committee on Postponed Matters, the original small-state coalition of New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and Delaware had been joined by Massachusetts, Georgia, and newly arrived New Hampshire to create a new majority voting bloc committed to a strong national government within a federal system that would protect the rights of individual states. Virginia and Pennsylvania were suddenly in the minority.
The Brearley Committee developed an Electoral College that gave extra voting weight to smaller states; gave the president, not Congress, the power to appoint judges, cabinet officers and ambassadors; invented the vice-presidency; and gave the president the right to run for reelection, strengthening the political power of the office.
The view that Brearley and the federalists from the smaller states had won the critical batters within the Constitutional Convention was underscored in the results of the state ratification conventions that followed. New Jersey, Delaware, Georgia, Connecticut, and Maryland quickly and overwhelmingly approved the new Constitution, while Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts ratified only after tumultuous, bitterly divided conventions. Brearly personally steered New Jerseys unanimous ratification vote.
Top customer reviews
Superb writing and thorough research brings to life great figures of that time, and many forgotten by popular history.
A wonderful and refreshing look into the true history of the writing of our most important document, the Constitution, which still safe-guards our freedom today.
Anyone who is interested in history, or early American politics, should read this intriguing book.