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I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.

Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the Constitution

Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution - Richard Beeman

In the summer of 1787, the Founding Fathers of the United States of America met in Philadelphia, PA to draft what would become the governing document of the nation. Originally intending to simply revise the Articles of Confederation, they ended up completely restructuring the government. Richard Beeman traces the debates leading up to the ratification of the Constitution in this scholarly text. 

 

 

The Constitution is so instrumental in all legal proceedings today that it's hard to imagine America without it. The rights and authority granted by it seem so obvious to us today that it's hard to comprehend that at the time that it was drafted, it was an object of great contention. However, as Beeman makes abundantly clear, the contents of the Constitution were anything but obvious in 1787. The debates surrounding it were just as vehement, if not even more so, than many political debates today. 

 

Beeman is incredibly thorough in his account of the drafting and implementation of the Constitution. He begins by explaining why it was apparent to all that the Articles of Confederation just weren't working in their original form and that something needed to be done - but what was less clear was what exactly should be done. He gives background information on the "key players" of the convention and explains why they believed in the things that they did. He painstakingly discusses the various areas of debate - and there were a lot of them, ranging from how much power the president should have and if the government they were creating should be superior to that of the states, to if it was even legal for them to be creating a Constitution when they had been sent to revise the Articles of Confederation, not to replace it. And then when the delegates finally created the Constitution, it still needed to ratified, and that process was just as arduous - when Massachusetts met to discuss it, a fist fight broke out! 

 

Beeman successfully demonstrates that the formation of the Constitution was not as clear-cut as one would assume. He clearly shows the frustration that the delegates felt, to the point that I just wanted to go back in time and shake them all because they were being so stubborn about things that, in some cases, were such minor details, haha. As was the case with A Midwife's Tale, this is a scholarly text - I was assigned to read it for my American Revolution class that I'm taking this semester - and as such, again, it is not intended to entertain but to educate, so I would only recommend this to people who are seriously interested in learning more about the birth of the United States of America. If you are one of those people, I think you'll be very satisfied - I can't imagine a book that is more thorough in its analysis of the creation of the Constitution!