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The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution Hardcover – January 9, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution

“For generations, left-wing judges, professors, and lawyers have told us that we can never know what the Constitution was supposed to mean, so judges are free to do what they want. Yet, in The Founding Fathers’ Guide to the Constitution, Brion McClanahan gives us a clear, clause-by-clause explanation of the original understanding of the Constitution. Constitutional government is possible, if only officials would be true to their oaths.”
—Kevin R. C. Gutzman, J.D., Ph.D., author of The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to the Constitution

“The Constitution for the United States, like all human creations, has been changed by the inescapable ravages of time. Not only the passage of time, but ambition, rent-seeking, ignorance, deception, misunderstanding, ideology, and the lust for power have encrusted our basic instrument of government with layer upon layer of false assumptions and distorted postures that have blocked us from knowing its real meaning and intent. Dr. McClanahan, with insight, painstaking effort, and that rare thing, plain common sense, has presented here as good a picture as we will get of what the Constitution really meant to those who wrote and ratified it. This book is not only a notable feat of historianship, but also an important exercise of citizenship that will enlighten those who yearn for truth.”
—Clyde N. Wilson, Emeritus Distinguished Professor of History, University of South Carolina

“Professor McClanahan provides us with an invaluable window into the intent of all the Framers. This book can best be described as intellectual hard medicine. The readers’ minds will be purged of all the nonsense they have been taught about the Constitution so they can see the document as intended by the founding generation that produced it.”
—Dr. Marshall DeRosa, Professor of Political Science, Florida Atlantic University

“Brion McClanahan’s Founding Fathers’ Guide to the Constitution takes the guesswork out of what the Founders intended. It’s all here, in their own words, which any layman can understand—and just as important, use as the standard to assess the wayward judges, congressmen, and executives of our federal government.”
—Thomas E. Woods, Jr., bestselling author of The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to American History and Rollback: Repealing Big Government Before the Coming Fiscal Collapse

About the Author

Brion McClanahan is author of The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to the Founding Fathers and holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in American history from the University of South Carolina. Born in Virginia, he attended high school in Delaware and received a B.A. in history from Salisbury University in Maryland. He lives with his wife and children near Phenix City, Alabama, just across the river from Columbus, Georgia.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery History (January 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596981938
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596981935
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #749,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is it! This is the book I've been hoping for years that somebody would write. Reading, and sorting through the debates, writings, ideas and opinions that formed the United States Constitution is a daunting task. But, it is the only way that one can discern precisely what the founders had in mind when they framed, and then enacted, our governing system. Dr. McClanahan cuts through all of the nonsense forwarded daily by elected representatives, incongruous Supreme Court Rulings, left-wing television pundits and right-wing radio talk show hosts with regards to the Constitution and what the Founders intended upon ratification of the document.

From familiar subjects such as "General Welfare", Federal "Supremacy" and "Necessary and Proper" to seemingly tenuous subjects, such as Article I, Section Four's delegation of power to control elections, new light is shed on virtually all areas of the Constitution. Additionally, it puts the Bill of Rights in proper context, as well as in proper order of importance (from the Founder's perspective). The arguments of both proponents and opponents of the Constitution are given so that the true meaning of the powers delegated (as well as many which were voted down, and why) may be discerned in proper context, and as the founders intended.

Drawing heavily from the Philadelphia Convention, the Federalist Papers, the Anti-Federalist Papers, the State Ratifying Conventions, and various other writings by the Founders, this is neither a "right-wing", nor "left-wing" treatise of the Constitution- it is instead a contextual dissection of the powers delegated by that document. It is substantiated, not by the writer's opinion, but by the words of the Founders themselves.
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Format: Hardcover
What does the Constitution mean for us today? What did it mean for those who drafted and ratified it? Is the answer to those questions the same? Can they be? Should they be? The Constitution is the foundation-stone of our American political system, "the supreme Law of the Land" as the document styles itself in Article VI, Clause 2. As such, one might expect American citizens to have a good knowledge of the form of government outlined in the Constitution, particularly those who, as elected officials, take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. As is well-known, this is not the case. Most Americans, even those who consider themselves good, patriotic citizens have never read the thing in whole or in part and have perhaps only the vaguest idea of how it came to be and why.

Even among those with some familiarity with the Constitution there is disagreement with regard to the previous questions. Some claim that the system of government drafted in Philadelphia in 1787 is simply inadequate for a modern, diverse, nation of 300 million people. We can't be bound by the strictures of a document written so long ago. Others claim that it is simply impossible to know what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the Constitution. The language is vague and antiquated, they claim, and even the Founding generation argued among themselves about what the Constitution meant. How can we, over 200 years later, hope to see more clearly what they could not? At best, what the Constitution then provides us is a flexible, "living document" that can be adapted to the needs and desires of the present.
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Format: Hardcover
One of the measures of a great book is how much clarity it brings to sticky subjects. The sticky subject in this case affects many: how much power and reach does the central government rightfully have?

Should the Constitution be loosely interpreted, existing as an elastic "living document" where new powers are added freely? Or should it be strictly interpreted, existing as a "limiting document" whereby the powers given are limited to those expressly defined?

Leap frogging over 220+ years of punditry and political posturing, Dr. McClanahan's fascinating The Founding Father's Guide To The Constitution goes directly to original interpretations made by those who proposed and voted the new form of government into being. It was here, after all, that proponents and opponents grappled with the same issues of how the sparsely worded document should be interpreted.

By revealing these arguments that won the day and earned the Constitution its ratification we find great clarity of intent.

It's at this moment of the Constitution's path toward ratification that McClanahan submerges us -- where we experience the debates surrounding the document's handful of provisions. In their own words we see proponents of the Constitution interpret the new nation's proposed powers while overcoming opponents' interpretations to win agreement and win ratification.

Did the "Necessary and Proper" clause, for example, create an "elastic power" that gave free reign to expand the central government's reach? Or was it simply a means to strictly execute the powers outlined in the previous clauses of the document?

Only one of these interpretations assured States and enabled the Constitution's ratification.
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