Monday, January 21, 2013

25 Books: Book #1 - Ratification by Pauline Maier

Many a volume has been written about the writing of the Constitution (The Summer of 1787 and Tempest At  Dawn are two of the better volumes I have read on the subject) but very little has been written about the ratification process. Most discussions of ratification tends to revolve around The Federalist Papers but that only provides a small part of the overall picture.

Pauline Maier set out to write the definitive history of the ratification debates in Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788. She provides a detailed history of the individual state conventions and insight into the public mood and debates that surrounded ratification. While it might have seemed that once the Constitution was written it was a foregone conclusion that the states would ratify it the fact is that it was far from a sure thing,

As Ms. Maier shows in her book the debates were actually much more extensive and not always driven by just two opposing points of view. In fact, the debates were much more sophisticated than that. The debates were not just limited to those among the political elites, either. The proposed Constitution drew interest from people from all walks of life and became one of the most widely debated issues of the day.

Ratification is a good overview of the political climate of the day and does a good job of documenting the numerous aspects surrounding the debates. Those who wish to more fully understand the Constitution would do well to learn more about the passions from all sides that fueled the ratification debate.

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