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After the "Miracle at Philadelphia"-to borrow Catherine Drinker Bowen's phrase for the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, there began the angry fight over ratification. Nine of the 13 states had to vote in favor of the Constitution in order for it to become effective. Absolutely indispensable were New York and Virginia, the most populous and richest states. Chadwick (The First American Army) focuses on the efforts of John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. Their series of essays, known today as "The Federalist Papers," were quickly written and disseminated throughout the country to persuade the state conventions to ratify the new charter. New Yorkers Jay and Hamilton and Madison, a Virginian, were leaders in their state conventions and fought hard for the Constitution. Chadwick uses primary and secondary sources well and has a very readable style. Politics has always been a rough-and-tumble business, which Chadwick captures by recounting the parries and thrusts of anonymous writers in the newspapers and the venomous speeches in the conventions. This fine narrative is best for those new to the topic; recommended for public libraries.
—Michael O. Eshleman