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The Original Constitution: What it Actually Said and Meant - 2nd Edition Paperback – May 17, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert G. Natelson is one of America's best-known constitutional scholars. He served as a law professor for 25 years, and has written for some of the world's leading legal publishers.  He is now Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Independence Institute in Golden, Colorado.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1452878331
  • ISBN-13: 978-1452878331
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,027,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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SUMMARY

This excellent book may be summarized with three main points:
1) The U.S. Constitution would not have been ratified without many specific assurances by the Federalists about the actual meanings of many of the constitution's clauses. Invariably those concerns were about the constitution being interpreted to give too much power to the central government or deny it to the states and the people. The Federalists responded by promising that the Anti-Federalists' suspicions of too much power to the central government would never happen, using arguments that stressed the established social and legal traditions and the clear meanings of the words used. Nine of thirteen states ratified the Constitution on condition of those Federalist assurances.
2) Those Federalist assurances (i.e., the Federalists' written, promised meanings of the constitution) are well known to us via the writings of the times and the documentations of the Federalists and of the ratification conventions.
3) The American people and the states have surrendered their powers to the Federal Government, mostly during and since the New Deal, essentially in the ways the Anti-Federalists had feared and warned about.

THE ORGANIZATION OF THE BOOK

In the Preface and Chapters 1 and 2, Natelson gives a very enlightening tour of: 1) the background of 1789 society, 2) core political values, and 3) rules of legal construction (Latin maxims).

1 Background of the 1789 Society
This background included people's inherent interest in legal, theological, political, historical, and philosophical topics (e.g., theology and law were the first and second most common books in libraries.
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This is an amazing book (a few parts I slightly disagree with, but that's okay). Our representatives must read this!

It provides a great foundation for understand how and why the Framers and Ratifiers wrote and accepted the Constitution. There is great care taken at the beginning to set the stage as to how they thought and the legal history leading up to the drafting and ratification. I will use the book as a reference for the rest of my life. I hope Part II, The Amendments, is soon to follow. I'm especially interested in the 14th Amendment.
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I bought this after seeing it promoted on a website said to support the 10th Amendment. The author takes a view of the Constitution that minimizes the role of the states, & says that it was not a compact between the states but of the people as a whole. This runs counter to the actual history. Most of the people at the time would not have supported the creation of a big centralized government after ridding themselves of the English king only a few years earlier. They saw themselves as citizens of their states, granting certain trade , mutual defense, and limited tax authority to the central government. Furthermore, the author argues against the idea of the Constitution as a compact between the states, he also implies that 'nullification' by the states is not valid. (pg 41-42). This is at odds with the objectives presented by the 10th Admendment advocacy group I mentioned earlier.
This book should be truthfully advertised as a Federalist, big central govt view of the Constitution (though the author does mention the anti-Federalist position a few times to give apparent 'balance'). It is the deception as to 'balance' which I most disagreeable about this book.

The book 'The Hologram of Liberty' by Kenneth Royce presents a quite different viewpoint, but its author admits it.
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Good solid insight into the background the Founding Fathers used to craft this document to setup our system of government. How it has worked, and Why it has worked. Also how it is being torn apart by those who do not like our system and the freedoms it gives us.
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I 'HIGHLY' recommend the writings and works of Professor Rob Natelson, a leading U.S. Constitutional scholar. In my view, some of his most important research and work has been on passing state sponsored and ratified Article V Constitutional amendments, with his latest paper: Was the Constitutional Convention a "Runaway?"

Bio: Rob Natelson is one of America's best-known constitutional scholars. For 23 years, he served as Professor of Law at the University of Montana, where he taught Constitutional Law and became a recognized national expert on the framing and adoption of the United States Constitution. He pioneered the use of source material, such as important Founding-Era law books, overlooked by other writers, and he has been the first to uncover key facts about some of the most significant parts of the Constitution.

Rob has written for some of the most prestigious academic publishers, including Cambridge University Press, the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, and Texas Law Review.

You can read some of his latest works at: [...]
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There is no need to wonder what our founders were thinking when they wrote our Constitution, because they left many letters and documents explaining themselves. The only problem? Who has time to go looking up hundreds of historical documents? Well, this author has done the research for us, and distilled it into a solid, thorouoghly researched book. This principles contained in the Constitution are too important for Americans not to learn them, and mrore importantly, teach to our kids. This is crucial reading for every American.
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