Miracle At Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention May - September 1787

Miracle At Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention May - September 1787

by Catherine Drinker Bowen


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A classic history of the Federal Convention at Philadelphia in 1787, the stormy, dramatic session that produced the most enduring of political documents: the Constitution of the United States.
From Catherine Drinker Bowen, noted American biographer and National Book Award winner, comes the canonical account of the Constitutional Convention recommended as "required reading for every American." Looked at straight from the records, the Federal Convention is startlingly fresh and new, and Mrs. Bowen evokes it as if the reader were actually there, mingling with the delegates, hearing their arguments, witnessing a dramatic moment in history.
Here is the fascinating record of the hot, sultry summer months of debate and decision when ideas clashed and tempers flared. Here is the country as it was then, described by contemporaries, by Berkshire farmers in Massachusetts, by Patrick Henry's Kentucky allies, by French and English travelers. Here, too, are the offstage voices—Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine and John Adams from Europe.
In all, fifty-five men attended; and in spite of the heat, in spite of clashing interests—the big states against the little, the slave states against the anti-slave states—in tension and anxiety that mounted week after week, they wrote out a working plan of government and put their signatures to it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316103985
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 09/30/1986
Pages: 346
Sales rank: 105,454
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are Saying About This

Virginia Kirkus

Many historians have written of this particular "miracle," but never has the tale been told more vividly than in this book by one of America's foremost biographers.

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Miracle At Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention May - September 1787 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is very well written. The author recreates the timeline of the Constitutional Convention and tells it like a story. The author's incorporation of the actual comments that were recorded during the convention are excellent. It unfolds the conflicts that faced the founding fathers in their quest to identify the proper government structure for a new nation. By reading the novel, you get a real appreciation for the importance of the time, the key members, and the convention's significance in our success as a nation. Additionally, Bowen interjects comments regarding the culture of the time, including some insight into the early years of Philadelphia and 13 colonies. As a Philadelphian it was interesting to read about how the city's culture hasn't changed much over the years.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was interesting as well as creative. The author uses a variety of descriptive words to entertain the reader. However, subjects within the chapters, seemed to jump around from one topic to another very quickly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bowen, who was an amateur historian, I might add, did an incredible job of explaining the motives of our forefathers. When I read this book, it had a great impact on my life and made me realize how thankful I should be that there is such a thing as the United States of America. This book should be a requirement for all Americans to read. Proud to be one!!
lastweeksapocalypse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I did not like this book (as is perhaps clear).The clearest, and only, statement of her thesis is the title of the book, making this a difficult book to discuss in terms of theses. While I do like how (tediously) closely this depicts the Constitutional Convention (something of continual interest to me), I dislike the author's writing style. There are also occasions where she seems to apologize for the Founders' distrust of democracy, their thoughts on property, etc. I acknowledge that the Founders are not infallible, and by modern standards (which is the key here) they could be considered elitist, racist, and sexist, but I do not feel they need someone to apologize for them, and I dislike when history is judged by current standards (which is the justification of the apology). This apology may perhaps be for the benefit of Bowen's reader, but it still irks me. There is also no bibliography (!), which is irritating (especially when there are anachronisms like a mention of "guillotine windows", when the guillotine was invented several years later).Were one to ignore all of that, or have none of the same problems I have, this book is good for a step-by-step (and I do mean step-by-step) portrayal of the Constitutional Convention in a non-spectacular, but honestly not horrible, narrative.
Ibreak4books on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderfully written history book about the constitutional convention. A lot of the stuff I either didn't know or had forgotten. In any event, I kept thinking: wow, this would make a great movie.
kkirkhoff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book uses reports, newspapers, journals, letters, and delegates' diaries to outline what went on that led to the creation of the US Constitution. Some of the key sticking points for the delegates were whether the states would be represented equally or by population. The type of government was also a heavily debated topic. Some delegates wanted a large, powerful government similar to England. Others preferred a small, states-oriented government.There is also a lot of history into why the US inhabitants left England. This shows quite clearly why many did not want to re-create the country they had just vacated.The middle two chapters of the book take a break from the convention to describe the population of each state and their way of life in this new land. It also describes the land (both frontier and city) and what it was like to live and travel in those times.The later chapters dealt with how the Constitution was to be ratified, and the public's reaction to it. I didn't read these chapters in depth. I was pretty tired with the subject by then.I would recommend this book for anyone wondering why the Founding Fathers did what they did back in 1787. It's very descriptive, and therefore can be a bit boring at times if you're not "into it".
Load More than 1 year ago
Even during these times when it came time to ratify the constitution it was as controversial then as are other topics are now in our government. It lends insight as to how certain issues were debated and conclusions were arrived at during and after the convention.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book informative for my project on the Constitutional Convention but not entertaining in any way. If you nedd information this book is okay if you are looking for an interesting piece of history, not so much.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book over the summer for a Ap US History class, and it did not meet my expectations at all. The book is too long and the details are unnessary. I would not recomend this book to anyone who wants to find out facts, read an encyclopedia instead. It was annoying how the author switched from past to future and then present in the same paragraph. A book I had to force myself to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't recommend reading this unless otherwise forced. The book is sparatically written and very hard to follow. Unless you absolutely adore History, I wouldn't advise wasting your time. While the author does try to make the event more interesting by including personal thoughts and information from the delagates, it is much too long winded.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a tremendous eye opener to me.I had read the Constitution many times before,but in this book I found how each part of the Constitution came to be.How some parts almost never were and how the whole effort to create this great document almost ended in failure.This book brings a humanity to the men who have been banished to the faces of our money and whose memories are all too often spat upon in the nation they strove so hard to create.This book is fantastic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a delight. It is a description of the political wisdom, intrigues and accidents that produced this country. An important subject described in an engaging, interesting way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
it was good and had to read it for school. It was interesting and if you are into US history, it provides alot of detail. It was interesting to read such detail. Although it wasn't exciting it gave me a lot of knowledge .
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is the worst book i have ever read im only 15 and all this book does is droan on the 2nd page is about how old the people in the convention were dont read it unless you have to i felt like i was dying inside i cried after 2 minutes
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for school and would definitely NOT recommend it to anyone. Unless you really love history, I am sure you will not like this book. There are many confusing details about Constitutional delegates that don't fit into chapters and are merely thrown in randomly. Very hard to follow and stay interested in.