Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution

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9780394578583: Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution

What did the U.S. Constitution originally mean, and who has comprehended its meaning best? Jack Rakove, professor of history at Stanford University, now approaches the debates surrounding the framing and ratification of the Constitution from the vantage point of history, examining the personal influences the various framers, especially James Madison, exerted over the process.

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Review:

Imagine, for a preposterous moment, that 55 national leaders convened to write a document to guide the country for hundreds of years. It seems unlikely--given that our current contingent of so-called leaders can't agree on how to balance a checkbook--that they could reach consensus on such issues as the allotment of congressional seats. The political and ideological issues that faced the creators of the Constitution were similar in some ways to those at play today. And in some ways they were vastly different ones. Jack Rakove, a history professor at Stanford University, has in this book framed the process that led to the drafting of the constitution in its historical and political context to offer insight into the difficulty of interpreting that most influential of documents.

From the Publisher:

"The most thoughtful and careful scholarly analysis to date of the extent to which the framers should control our contemporary understanding of the Constitution."--Stanley N. Katz, American Council of Learned Societies

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