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America's Constitution: A Biogrpahy
Amar, Akhil Reed
In America’s Constitution, one of this era’s most accomplished constitutional law scholars, Akhil Reed Amar, gives the first comprehensive account of one of the world’s great political texts. Incisive, entertaining, and occasionally controversial, this “biography” of America’s framing document explains not only what the Constitution says but also why the Constitution says it. We all know this much: the Constitution is neither immutable nor perfect. Amar shows us how the story of this one relatively compact document reflects the story of America more generally. (For example, much of the Constitution, including the glorious-sounding “We the People,” was lifted from existing American legal texts, including early state constitutions.) In short, the Constitution was as much a product of its environment as it was a product of its individual creators’ inspired genius. Despite the Constitution’s flaws, its role in guiding our republic has been nothing short of amazing. Skillfully placing the document in the context of late-eighteenth-century American politics, America’s Constitution explains, for instance, whether there is anything in the Constitution that is unamendable; the reason America adopted an electoral college; why a president must be at least thirty-five years old; and why–for now, at least–only those citizens who were born under the American flag can become president. From his unique perspective, Amar also gives us unconventional wisdom about the Constitution and its significance throughout the nation’s history. For one thing, we see that the Constitution has been far more democratic than is conventionally understood. Even though the document was drafted by white landholders, a remarkably large number of citizens (by the standards of 1787) were allowed to vote up or down on it, and the document’s later amendments eventually extended the vote to virtually all Americans. We also learn that the Founders’ Constitution was far more slavocratic than many would acknowledge: the “three fifths” clause gave the South extra political clout for every slave it owned or acquired. As a result, slaveholding Virginians held the presidency all but four of the Republic’s first thirty-six years, and proslavery forces eventually came to dominate much of the federal government prior to Lincoln’s election. Ambitious, even-handed, eminently accessible, and often surprising, America’s Constitution is an indispensable work, bound to become a standard reference for any student of history and all citizens of the United States.
The Return of George Washington: Uniting the States, 1783-1789
Larson, Edward J.
"An elegantly written account of leadership at the most pivotal moment in American history" (Philadelphia Inquirer): Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Edward J. Larson reveals how George Washington saved the United States by coming out of retirement to lead the Constitutional Convention and serve as our first president. After leading the Continental Army to victory in the Revolutionary War, George Washington shocked the world: he retired. In December 1783, General Washington, the most powerful man in the country, stepped down as Commander in Chief and returned to private life at Mount Vernon. Yet as Washington contentedly grew his estate, the fledgling American experiment floundered. Under the Articles of Confederation, the weak central government was unable to raise revenue to pay its debts or reach a consensus on national policy. The states bickered and grew apart. When a Constitutional Convention was established to address these problems, its chances of success were slim. Jefferson, Madison, and the other Founding Fathers realized that only one man could unite the fractious states: George Washington. Reluctant, but duty-bound, Washington rode to Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 to preside over the Convention. Although Washington is often overlooked in most accounts of the period, this masterful new history from Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward J. Larson brilliantly uncovers Washington's vital role in shaping the Convention - and shows how it was only with Washington's support and his willingness to serve as President that the states were brought together and ratified the Constitution, thereby saving the country.
Written Out of History: The Forgotten Founders Who Fought Big Government
Some of America’s most important founders have been erased from our history books. In the fight to restore the true meaning of the Constitution, their stories must be told.In the earliest days of our nation, a handful of unsung heroes - including women, slaves, and an Iroquois chief - made crucial contributions to our republic. They pioneered the ideas that led to the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers, and the abolition of slavery. Yet, their faces haven’t been printed on our currency or carved into any cliffs. Instead, they were marginalized, silenced, or forgotten - sometimes by an accident of history, sometimes by design. In the thick of the debates over the Constitution, some founders warned about the dangers of giving too much power to the central government. Though they did not win every battle, these anti-Federalists and their allies managed to insert a system of checks and balances to protect the people from an intrusive federal government. Other forgotten figures were not politicians themselves, but by their thoughts and actions influenced America’s story. Yet successive generations have forgotten their message, leading to the creation of a vast federal bureaucracy that our founders would not recognize and did not want.Senator Mike Lee, one of the most consistent and impassioned opponents of an abusive federal government, tells the story of liberty’s forgotten heroes. In these pages, you’ll learn the true stories of founders such as . . .• Aaron Burr who is depicted in the popular musical Hamilton and in history books as a villain, but in reality was a far more complicated figure who fought the abuse of executive power.• Mercy Otis Warren, one of the most prominent female writers in the Revolution and a protégé of John Adams, who engaged in vigorous debates against the encroachment of federal power and ultimately broke with Adams over her fears of the Constitution.• Canasatego, an Iroquois chief whose words taught Benjamin Franklin the basic principles behind the separation of powers.The popular movement that swept Republicans into power in 2010 and 2016 was led by Americans who rediscovered the majesty of the Constitution and knew the stories of Hamilton, Madison, and Washington. But we should also know the names of the contrarians who argued against them and who have been written out of history. If we knew of the heroic fights of these lost founders, we’d never have ended up with a government too big, too powerful, and too unresponsive to its citizens. The good news is that it’s not too late to remember and to return to our first principles. Restoring the memory of these lost individuals will strike a crippling blow against big government.
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