There is perhaps no more critical juncture in American history than the years in which Americans drafted the federal Constitution, fiercely debated its merits and failings, and adopted it, albeit with reservations. In Contested Conventions, senior historian Melvin Yazawa examines the political and ideological clashes that accompanied the transformation of the country from a loose confederation of states to a more perfect union.
Treating the 1787–1789 period as a whole, the book highlights the contingent nature of the struggle to establish the Constitution and brings into focus the overriding concern of the framers and ratifiers, who struggled to counter what Alexander Hamilton identified as the "centrifugal" forces driving Americans toward a disastrous disunion. This concern inspired the delegates in Philadelphia to resolve through compromise the two most divisive confrontations of the Constitutional Conventionrepresentation in the new Congress and slaveryand was instrumental in gaining ratification even in states where Antifederalist delegates comprised a substantial majority.
Arguing that the debates over ratification reflected competing ideas about the meaning of American nationhood, Yazawa illuminates the nature of the crisis that necessitated the meeting at Philadelphia in the first place. Contested Conventions is a cohesive and compelling account of the defining issues that led to the establishment of the Constitution; it should appeal to history students and scholars alike.
|Publisher:||Johns Hopkins University Press|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Melvin Yazawa is professor emeritus of history at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of From Colonies to Commonwealth: Familial Ideology and the Beginnings of the American Republic and the editor of The Diary and Life of Samuel Sewall.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Constitution Day ix
Abbreviations Used in the Notes xvii
Part 1 Creation: The Critical Period of American History 1
1 A Union of Large and Small States 19
2 A Union with Slaveholders 58
Part 2 Ratification: Stacking the Deck 99
3 Massachusetts and the First Nine States 109
4 Virginia Matters 144
5 New York Joins the Union 175
6 North Carolina, the Bill of Rights, and the Madisonian Exchange 209
Epilogue: A New Generation Who Know Not Us 243
Appendixes A The Perils of Originalism 269
B Constitutional Convention: Attendance by States 280
C Chronology of Ratification 281
What People are Saying About This
An accurate and very well-written narrative of the federal convention that wrote the US Constitution. Melvin Yazawa employs his formidable skills in the service of telling readers about the creation of the Constitution and its ratification by four different states, offering many interesting insights along the way.
A compelling look at constitution-making in real time by a first-rate historian. Focusing on key developments at critical moments, Yazawa captures and clarifies the unfolding narratives in Philadelphia and at the most important state conventions, bringing his subjects (and the subjects of their debates) to life. Lucidly written, this book should engage its readers' unflagging attention.
A useful, readable, and accessible treatment of the critical founding moments in early American history. This book will fill a noteworthy gap in studies of this period.