Topic 15
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The Constitutional Convention
The Politics of Ratification



Madison, c. 1821, Gilbert Stuart. Madison deserves the title of architect of the Constitution and his contributions to the Federalist papers show his brilliance as a political theorist.
bulletCountryman, pp. 31-88 & Part I
bullet Essay on the Writing of the US Constitution
bullet Federalist 10; or Federalist 51
bullet (Antifederalist) Letter from a Federalist Farmer or Melancton Smith's Speech to NY Ratifying Convention
OVERVIEW: The men who gathered in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 and produced the US Constitution have come to be known as the Framers and the Founding Fathers. This event is seen, rightly I think, as the ultimate chapter in the story of the Revolution. What began in 1776 was brought to a conclusion in 1787-88. But what kind of conclusion? Some Americans in those years saw the new constitution as a betrayal of 1776 and some later historians have raised similar questions. The crucial question continues to be the relationship between 1776 and 1789.

Beyond that question is a basic fact - the convention and the ratification debates at the end of the 1780s mark the most creative period in American politics, a classical age of American political thought.



Federalist Papers excerpts

Federalist 10 James Madison

Federalist 51 James Madison

The Antifederalist Papers

Patrick Henry's Speech in the Va. Ratifying Convention 

Massachusetts Yeomen Oppose the “Aristocratickal” Constitution, January, 1788