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The Nature of Rights at the American Founding and Beyond (Constitutionalism and Democracy)

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0813926667
ISBN-10: 0813926661
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Editorial Reviews


"Professor Shain has assembled the leading thinkers on the American Founding. Their essays summarize the best works over the past few years on rights when the Constitution was ratified, and effectively demolish notions that rights today are what rights have always been.

(Mark A. GraberUniversity of Maryland, author of Dred Scott and the Problem of Constitutional Evil)

About the Author

Barry Alan Shain, Associate Professor of Political Science at Colgate University, is the author of The Myth of American Individualism: The Protestant Origins of American Political Thought and Man, God, and Society: An Interpretive History of Individualism.


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Product Details

  • Series: Constitutionalism and Democracy
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press (November 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813926661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813926667
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,524,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By A. Wood on February 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This collection of essays by leading historians of the time surrounding America's founding is invaluable to anyone who is interested in understanding much of the terminology that was "in the air" during that period.

Whether in pamphlets, sermons, bills of rights, constitutions, letters, or speeches the words used in the run-up to the colonies' split from Great Britain cannot be understood in a "self-evident" way (as some present-day academics would have us believe). The essays in this volume offer important contextual analysis when it comes to figuring out exactly what the Founders meant when they spoke of "rights" and what this meant for the cause of revolution and the founding of a new nation.

If you want to begin to get a grasp on the legal philosophy of the Founding era then this book should be at the top of your list. No one should attempt to tackle this area of legal intellectual history without surveying these writers and their works here. Many speak today about the rhetoric of the Founding without actually attempting to understand what the Founders themselves meant when they used words like "rights." This book will help immerse the reader in the intellectual climate of the time and cut through some of the polemic-infused arguments of some current thinkers.
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