Founders: The 39 Stories Behind the U.S. Constitution

Overview

The stories behind the Constitution are as powerful as the nation it created.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

After the American Revolution, the thirteen united states were joined, ...

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Overview

The stories behind the Constitution are as powerful as the nation it created.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

After the American Revolution, the thirteen united states were joined, barely, by an almost powerless government. The federal army was too weak to defend the nation; there was no national currency; and there was no authority to collect taxes for debts. Soon states’ militias were needed to quiet rebellions. As Washington wrote, if a change wasn’t made soon, the new nation “rais[ed] at the expense of so much blood and treasure, must fall.”

Delegates from twelve of the thirteen states met in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 to create the United States Constitution. But it was no easy task— four months of bitter debate ensued, in which arguments became so heated that delegates nearly abandoned the convention many times.

Thirty-nine men ultimately signed this important, influential framework that saved our country and gave us our amazingly strong and balanced federal government. Dennis Brindell Fradin and Michael McCurdy combine their talents to bring all of the founders stories to light in this fascinating companion volume to their bestselling book The Signers.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
In May of 1787, twelve of the original thirteen states sent representatives to Philadelphia to redraft the national government's basic operating principles. Up until that point, the newly-independent United States had been governed according to the Articles of Confederation. Unfortunately, that governmental approach had proven too disjointed to satisfy the commercial, political, and social needs as perceived by the leaders of the states. Only Rhode Island refused to send representatives to the Constitutional Convention. Apparently Rhode Islanders feared being "swallowed up" by the bigger states whose power in a more centralized government might overwhelm the smaller states. At the start of the convention Gunning Bedford, Jr. of Delaware rose to speak. Once recognized, Bedford said, in reference to his convention colleagues, "I do not, gentlemen, trust you! If you possess the power, the abuse of it could not be checked." And thus began the contorted process of scripting what was to become the United States Constitution. In this illustrated book readers are provided concise biographies of the thirty-nine men who took part in the sometimes tempestuous process that resulted in the framing of the American Constitution. Each biography is accompanied by pen and ink illustrations that augment the text. While this is a very specialized book that may have a limited audience, it is both well researched and ably written. 2005, Walker & Company, Ages 10 up.
—Greg M. Romaneck
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-This companion volume to Fradin's The Signers (Walker, 2002) turns from the Declaration of Independence to the U.S. Constitution, with short biographies of the 39 men who created and signed it in September 1787. The introduction describes how divided the new states were as they argued about the framework of a balanced and strong federal government. Subsequent chapters describe the role of each state, with information on each delegate. McCurdy's scratchboard illustrations, indeed, the entire layout and typefaces used, look colonial and are very fitting for the subject. Fradin's writing is clear and inviting, drawing readers in to the fascinating lives of the men who came together to draft the document. As thorough as Robert Ferris's Signers of the Constitution (Interpretive, 1986), and far more engaging, this title will be useful for history reports and should be a priority purchase for most libraries.-Linda Beck, Indian Valley Public Library, Telford, PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The Constitution celebrated its 217th anniversary on June 21, 2005, and the 39 founders would be delighted that their document has not only endured but has been amended 27 times to make the United States even more democratic. In this handsome companion to The Signers (2002), and using a similar format, Fradin and McCurdy provide a history of each state, a biography of each signer and maps to place the states in their new context as a union. McCurdy's excellent black-and-white scratchboard illustrations are a perfect complement to the text. The introduction clearly summarizes the issues behind the Constitution: the battles between Federalists and Anti-Federalists; the clashes between large states and small; the controversy over slavery; and the call for a Bill of Rights. The afterword provides a sense of what the document has meant to the nation in the two centuries since the summer of 1788, when the new governmental framework was adopted. The bibliography will not lead young readers beyond the text, but this volume has much to offer all by itself. (Nonfiction. 10+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802789723
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 9/21/2005
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 713,025
  • Age range: 10 - 15 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.86 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Dennis Brindell Fradin is the author of Walker & Company’s The Signers and has garnered many accolades for his children’s books, including ALA Notables, a Booklist Editor’s Choice, and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. He lives in Evanston, Illinois, with his wife.

Michael McCurdy is the illustrator of Walker & Company’s The Signers and the author/illustrator of Trapped by the Ice, CBC-NCSS Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies. He has illustrated more than 150 books and has twice received the New York Times Best Illustrated Books award. Michael lives in western Massachusetts.

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