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What did the Constitution mean to early Americans? Ostensibly the foundational document of a sovereign American people, the U.S. Constitution affected different kinds of Americans in very different ways. Modern historians have investigated its impact on various groups in an effort to determine what the Constitution meant to the founding generation of Americans. Exploring how early Americans shaped, responded to, and debated the document, this volume's 5 selections attempt to gauge the Constitution's ultimate success in forging a government based on the consent of the American people.
A Note for Students
PART I. THE DOCUMENT
The Constitution of the United States
PART II. INTRODUCTION
The Creation of the United States
From Revolution to Ratification
Historians and the Constitution
PART III. SOME CURRENT QUESTIONS
1. What were the issues in 1787?
Isaac Kramnick, The "Great National Discussion": The Discourse of Politics in 1787
2. Were the framers counterrevolutionaries?
Stephen E. Patterson, The Federalist Reaction to Shays's Rebellion
3. What did the Federalists achieve?
Gordon S. Wood, The American Science of Politics, From The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787
4. Did the Constitution create a republic of white men?
Jan Lewis, "Of Every Age Sex & Condition": The Representation of Women in the Constitution
5. Can we know the original intent of the Framers?
Jack N. Rakove, The Perils of Originalism, From Original Means: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution
Suggestions for Further Reading